Dormont's Hollywood Theater a set for movie scene

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Hollywood spent some time at Dormont's Hollywood Theater this week.

Cast and crew, big trucks and big lights, and lots of extras were at the theater on Potomac Avenue Tuesday to film "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, 41, who wrote the coming-of-age novel of the same name in 1999.

The book is set in Pittsburgh and the movie is being filmed in the area.

When Mr. Chbosky, an Upper St. Clair native, was growing up, he watched the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" at the Dormont Hollywood; in the novel, Mr. Chbosky's first, the characters also watch the show.

As he scouted places to film the scene, he turned to what he knew, said John Maggio, president of the Friends of the Hollywood Theater.

It was a lucky turn for the Hollywood, which just reopened last month. The one-screen theater, which has a balcony, a concession area and a lobby, opened in 1931 and closed in 1998. It reopened and was renovated in 2007, closed in 2008, reopened in late 2009 and closed in mid-2010.

A group of Dormont residents formed the nonprofit Friends group this year, and in May, the Hollywood started showing films again.

"It just all came together," Mr. Maggio said. "I think it's a nice story that we are just reopening and they are filming a movie there. It's good karma for us."

Last month, cast and crew stopped by to see "Rocky Horror." To prepare the theater to be a movie set, the production crew re-did the marque to advertise for "Rocky Horror," put new posters on the walls, changed the concession area and turned the women's restroom into a green room.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Maggio was at the theater, walkie-talkie in hand, to answer any facility issues that arose over the planned two days of shooting. He said he recognized several film extras, wearing "Rocky Horror Picture Show" outfits, as regulars at the Hollywood's shows.

The inside of the Dormont Hollywood was a closed set during shooting. Outside, a small group of mostly young women were hoping to get a glimpse of Emma Watson, Hermione in the Harry Potter movies and one of this film's stars.

Lauren Thomson, 18, of DuBois, Clearfield County, had driven to Bethel Park to meet her friend, Vickie Lecci, 23, so the two could drive together to Dormont. "It's a three-hour drive, and it took a lot of bribing my mother," she said.

But it was worth it for the chance to catch a glimpse of Ms. Watson, said Ms. Thomson, who is also a fan of the book.

From the vantage point of an alley behind the theater, they said they heard someone introducing Ms. Watson to the crew, but they were soon shooed out of the alley. They grabbed a spot in front of Fredo's Market with a few other girls watching the busy scene on Potomac Avenue.

Shooting the movie in Dormont brings good publicity to the borough, and promotes the theater, Mr. Maggio said. "It will help us in our ultimate goal, to keep the theater open."


Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707.


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