May 09--TRINITY -- One of the biggest breakout stars of this weekend's Hallmark Channel movie debut may not be an actor or actress, but a stunning estate home in Trinity.
Linbrook Hall, a 60-room, 35,000-square-foot home owned by Jerry and Linda Neal, will be prominently featured in Saturday night's world-premiere showing of "The Confession," a made-for-TV movie filmed in the Triad in early 2012. Filmmakers spent nearly a month shooting scenes at the Neals' stately mansion.
"(Linbrook Hall is) the most prominent location in the whole movie," says Rebecca Clark, executive director of the Piedmont Triad Film Commission, who used Linbrook to help lure the filmmakers to the Triad.
"There's a beautiful, sweeping shot of it in the trailer, and they're using photographs of Linbrook in all of their publicity. They really loved it."
Jerry Neal, a co-founder of RF Micro Devices, says he and his wife have not yet seen the movie, but they've seen the trailer.
"The house looked great the way it was lit and the way it was featured," he says. "I thought it looked great both inside and outside."
According to Neal, companies have taken still photographs at Linbrook to use in their advertising, but "The Confession" will mark the estate's motion picture debut.
Considering the home is listed in the Piedmont Triad Film Commission's listings of local properties available for filming -- and considering how great the home looks in its debut -- there may be more movie roles in Linbrook's future.
"Linbrook is such a gem of a location here in the Triad," Clark says. "It's so unique and so beautiful, and it looks like an old mansion. It has the look of the kind of estate a lot of filmmakers want."
Completed in 2004, Linbrook is among the largest homes in the Southeast. Designed in the Classical Revival style, a popular style of architecture in the South dating back to the early 1800s, the home boasts features found in many 18th- and early-19th-century homes. Among its most eye-catching features are a 60-foot rotunda in the center of the house and a spectacular double-spiral staircase, as well as antiques and furnishings from around the world that the Neals have collected through the years.
"The Confession," which stars Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Sherry Stringfield -- as well as Katie Leclerc, Adrian Paul and Julia Whelan -- is the sequel to another Hallmark Channel original movie, "The Shunning." Both movies are based on novels by bestselling author Beverly Lewis.
The movie tells the story of a young Amish woman who tracks down her long-lost birth mother, a wealthy woman who is dying of cancer. The plot is complicated by the arrival of another young woman pretending to be the wealthy woman's daughter in hopes of inheriting her massive estate.
Neal says they will watch the movie Saturday night, and they later hope to have a viewing party for family and friends.
Meanwhile, Clark says the filming of "The Confession" was a coup for the Triad, pumping at least $1.2 million into the local economy.
"And then the icing on the cake," she adds, "is that people all over the world are going to be watching this movie on the Hallmark Channel, seeing all these beautiful locations, and hopefully that will help create tourism in the area as well."
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Want to watch?
The world premiere of "The Confession" will air at 9 p.m. Saturday on cable television's Hallmark Channel.
The movie stars Sherry Stringfield, Katie Leclerc, Adrian Paul and Julia Whelan.
Much of the movie was filmed at Linbrook Hall in Trinity, which is the privately owned home of Jerry and Linda Neal.
For more information, visit www.hallmarkchannel.com/theconfession.
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