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Bellingham Loses out as Site for 20th Century Fox Movie

Jan 30, 2015 07:00AM ● By Kenneth Hamwey
written by KEN HAMWEY, Bulletin Staff Writer

“Lights, camera, action” could have been very popular words in Bellingham if representatives from 20th Century Fox had agreed to use a home on South Main Street to film scenes for an upcoming Jennifer Lawrence movie titled Joy.

However, after the studio’s scouts met with Town Administrator Denis Fraine and Police Chief Jerry Daigle on Jan. 6, then later conferred with Selectmen Michael Connor and Mike Soter on Jan. 8 for extensive talks about Bellingham’s potential to be one of two sites for the movie, they decided to produce the entire film on the North Shore.

David Velasco, the Location Manager for 20th Century Fox, informed Fraine’s office of his  firm’s decision on Jan. 21, but he was very upbeat and positive about the way Bellingham dealt with the studio and its advance scouts. “Unfortunately, the production has decided to forgo shooting in Bellingham,” Velasco said.  “It came down to logistics. We’re filming mostly on the North Shore and the cost of transporting our crew and materials made it much more costly than everyone had originally expected. It’s too bad because I was looking forward to working with your office. However, we will keep Bellingham in mind for other upcoming projects Fox might have on the horizon. I also made a point of mentioning to the State Film Commission in Boston how receptive and willing to work with us you all were. So I’m sure some other future production could wind up being steered your way.’’

If Bellingham had been chosen as a site, all the filming at the house, which is for sale, would have been inside the home. “The scouts and the location director were driving through Bellingham to see other potential sites,” Fraine indicated. “They noticed the house on South Main Street near the Blackstone Street intersection and thought it was ideal. The home, they said, was similar to the one where Joy Mangano lived on Long Island.’’

The movie will focus on the life of Mangano, a struggling single mother of three. She invents the “Miracle Mop” and propels herself to the top as one of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs.

Lawrence will play Mangano while Robert DiNiro has agreed to play her father. Bradley Cooper, who currently is starring in American Sniper, will also be part of the cast. If Bellingham had been chosen, filming would have begun on Feb. 11 and have continued for six days. The movie is slated to be in theaters throughout the country at Christmas.

Fraine said the two meetings in Bellingham were positive, and Daigle said the film crew would have needed part of South Main Street leading to the town’s center closed. “It would not have been a problem,” Daigle said. “We’ve detoured traffic to Blackstone Street before.’’
Soter, who was very excited about the opportunity, said he was disappointed that Bellingham lost out. “We put a lot of effort into it and hoped it would happen,”Soter said. “But I’m pleased Fox viewed our town as a viable option and that they let the Boston Film Commission know that we’ll welcome any future movie possibilities.’’

“The biggest benefit would have been to the local economy,”Fraine emphasized. “There would have been about 100 people in the filming crew, and they likely would have been  frequenting restaurants, gas stations and stores in town. It also would have been a plus for the town because it would have created some excitement, and there no doubt would have been some star-gazers—people who just want to see movie stars.”

If Bellingham had been selected, the movie company would have made a financial contribution to the town’s gift fund, and there also would have been an agreement with the homeowners. Fraine would not divulge what the financial arrangement with the town would have been because no figure was ever agreed on. He also said that any costs incurred for public safety would have been paid by the film studio.

“I was surprised when they approached us,” Fraine said. “To have a movie filmed here with renowned actors like DiNiro, Lawrence and Cooper would have really been something. They’re the top pedigree in acting today. If we had been chosen to be the site, I believe this would have been a first for Bellingham. I’m not aware of any movie ever being filmed in Bellingham before.’’
Fraine said the movie scouts were slightly concerned with how busy South Main Street was, but they indicated that the house fit in well with the characteristics of what is a true story. After growing frustrated with ordinary mops, Mangano developed her first invention, the Miracle Mop, a robust plastic mop with its head made from a continuous loop of 300 feet of cotton that can be easily wrung out without getting your hands wet.

With her own savings and investments from family and friends, she made a prototype and manufactured 100 units. After selling the mop at trade shows and in local stores on Long Island, she sold 1,000 units on consignment to QVC. It sold modestly at first, but once QVC allowed Mangano to go on-air to sell it herself, she sold 18,000 mops in 20 minutes.

Ten years later, her company was selling $10 million worth of Miracle Mops per year. In early 2014, movie director David Russell, who also directed The Fighter, decided to turn the Miracle Mop story into his next screenplay.

In 1997, Mangano was named Long Island Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young; by 2010, she was on Fast Company’s list of The 10 Most Creative Women in Business.

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