Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pacino, De Niro filming in Milford

I wasn't able to be there while they were filming, but only about 1/2 mile from my house they were filming a scene for "Righteous Kill (2008)" in a little bar.

The Star Cafe is something of a dive (but don't call it "seedy") where I've drank a few Buds and listened to the occasional band, such as Long Island's "Good Rats".

Early on the day of filming, I drove by and shot this photo:

At first I thought they were fumigating the bar, but it turned out they covered the front windows and door because they were filming a night scene, and they needed to block out the daylight.

Below are newspaper photos of the actors at this location: Al Pacino, Donnie Walhberg, and Robert De Niro.

And here's a clip of a local newspaper account of the day's filming:
Pamela McLaughlin, Register Staff

MILFORD — The movie crew on Spring Street needed bullhorns to be heard Thursday, but Nicole Parsell was plenty loud enough without one.

"Ahhhhhh, I touched him; Al, Al, Al," Parsell swooned with such unbridled emotion that it’s a wonder they didn’t give her a role.

Parsell’s left hand indeed had been brushed by Academy Award-winning actor and eternal hunk Al Pacino when she stretched out her arms as he entered through the side door of Star Cafe on Bridgeport Avenue.

"He has some soft hands," said Parsell.

This wasn’t about "Scent of a Woman," but rather of a man; Parsell, who lives next door to the cafe, graciously shared her fortune by letting other women around her smell the cologne Pacino had left on her palm.

Pacino and Robert De Niro, another Academy Award-winner, were in Milford to shoot two scenes at the neighborhood bar for their upcoming movie "Righteous Kill," in which De Niro plays a police investigator on the hunt for a serial killer.

Community Development Director Robert Gregory, who spent years in community theater, played an extra sitting at the bar. Gregory, who is the city’s liaison to the Devon Revitalization Committee, said the movie is a great boon to that section of the city.

"This movie will become part of the folklore of Devon and Milford," he said. "That’s something you can’t pay for."

As early as 8 a.m. a small group of curious bystanders had gathered and all else looked as usual, except for black material obscuring the front entrance to the cafe. By 11 a.m. the place was bustling with spectators, film crews, wardrobe people, set designers and Equity actors sent in to play patrons and bar personnel.

The bar’s real crew members are normally night owls, but for this they were up with the roosters.

"I put on a little extra makeup — this is exciting," bartender Chris Burnaka said, hoping to get into a shot. She said the Star Cafe is portrayed as a "cop bar" in the movie. When asked if it was a cop bar in real life, Burnaka laughed, "No, normally they’re outside waiting for our customers."

Bar owner Ray Tooley, who also has a swing shift job at Metro-North working on the high-tension lines, said he took a sick day Thursday so he could attend the filming.

"I’d rather be sleeping," Tooley said. "If it was Sharon Stone, I’d be excited."

Tooley said he’s hoping if the movie’s a success, men will want to say, "I spilled a drink on my wife where Al Pacino sat."

The bar was chosen for the film, set in New York, by location manager Dave Diamond, who lives on the waterfront nearby. He sent his crew out looking at bars throughout the area, and Star Cafe was chosen for two conversation scenes because the inside of the bar is deep and wide. Diamond said he usually works in Los Angeles where film crews are common, and so it still amazes him that folks care to come out to watch.

The bar is clean inside — Tooley and the crew objected to the word seedy used in one press account — but has a definite everyman’s feel: pickled eggs for sale, lots of neon beer signs, three pool tables and lots of dark wood paneling and brick.

Burnaka said the crew wanted to move a string of beer bottle lights closer to the area of filming and when she offered to dust them first, the answer was, "No, they’re perfect!"

By 3 p.m. Pacino was still inside and a crowd of about 70 — by now standing behind police tape — waited excitedly for De Niro’s arrival. But then word came it wouldn’t be until evening because they were going to film until 10. By 7 p.m. the two superstars were inside shooting a scene together.

Another star, Donnie Wahlberg, also was on the set Thursday.

In the afternoon, Pacino signed autographs for a group in back of the bar, where he took breaks to make calls on his cell phone.

Kathy Smith wasn’t all too subtle in her quest to be noticed; she walked her grandson to the school bus stop wearing a white shirt that said "Sopranos" in big red letters and "Tony 1" on the back. Once he was gone, she made the corner her personal catwalk.

"I’m hoping if they see the Sopranos shirt they’ll want me sitting in the back of the bar sipping a beer," said Smith, who said she’s seen "The Godfather" at least 100 times and can finish the lines. "Even if they want to borrow it they can, but I want a picture of me and Robert De Niro. If I see him I’m going to yell, ‘Hey, Max Cady,’" she said, referring to De Niro’s role as a psychopath in "Cape Fear."

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