Movie to start filming here Nov. 6
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The Hollywood production company that's in town filming "Mysteries of Pittsburgh" has opened another office here and is already scouting locations for its next movie.
"Smart People," a comic drama starring Dennis Quaid, Thomas Haden Church and Rachel Weisz, will begin filming Nov. 6. The first screenplay by novelist Mark Poirier will be filmed by commercial director Noam Murro in his feature film debut.
The story follows a grumpy Carnegie Mellon University professor (Quaid) who's still mourning the death of his wife eight years earlier when his adopted brother (Church) moves into his Pittsburgh home. The prof is hurt in a fall but falls head over heels for his emergency room doctor (Weisz), his former student who hated him as a teacher because he was so darned grumpy.
Screenwriter Poirier was raised in Arizona, the fifth of 11 children. He's a graduate of the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, studied at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and was awarded a James Michener fellowship. His novels "Modern Ranch Living" and "Goats" were published by Miramax Books, and he lives in Portland, Ore.
Location manager Kathy McCurdy of Pittsburgh has been knocking on doors in Squirrel Hill, Edgewood and Oakmont, searching for what her assistant Alex Mary Hamilton calls "a typical Pittsburgh house" to serve as the movie's central location.
"The producers liked the [Pittsburgh-filmed] 'Wonder Boys' house but want one that's bigger," said Hamilton, also from Pittsburgh. "We're looking for a three-story house. [Quaid's character] is depressed. His wife died, so it has to look like he hasn't kept up with it for eight years -- no new kitchen or recent improvements like that. We're still looking all over the city."
Groundswell Productions plans 25 days of filming from Nov. 6 through mid-December. CMU scenes will be shot at the Oakland school, and producers hope to shoot the hospital scenes at Allegheny General Hospital.
Dawn Keezer of the Pittsburgh Film Office said Groundswell was able to tap into Pennsylvania's $10 million-per-year film production grant program when other projects dropped off the waiting list.
Groundswell is responsible for 2003's "House of Sand and Fog," 2003's "Thirteen" and 2004 Oscar winner "Sideways," which collectively have grossed more than $100 million worldwide. "Mysteries of Pittsburgh," adapted from the Michael Chabon novel by screenwriter Rawson Marshall Thurber, is still filming at locations throughout the region and will wrap on Oct. 17.
First Published October 6, 2006 12:00 am