News Column

HBO comes to North Shore

September 2, 2013


Sept. 02--ROCKPORT -- The site of the defunct Cape Ann Tool Company on Granite Street is the location for a new Home Box Office miniseries, "Olive Kitteridge."

Crews began setting up last week and are expected to be filming along the North Shore starting this week.

An open casting call in Gloucester weeks ago drew some 250 people. Casting director Billy Dowd, who is handling local non-union extras and bit part players, says anyone who couldn't make it and is still interested may email him at

Applicants should include their name, contact information, a recent photo (face), age, height, weight, hair color, and any past acting experience. The production may also need people with cars.

Dowd said applicants will be contacted as production needs arise, any time between tomorrow, when shooting is expected to start, and late November, when production is expected to wrap up.

The miniseries will follow Frances McDormand (of "Fargo" Oscar fame) as the title character, Olive Kitteridge.

The HBO series, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning 2008 novel by Elizabeth Strout, is being co-produced by McDormand, Tom Hanks, and Hanks' Playtone partner, Gary Goetzman.

In July, a representative of the cable television network also contacted the Beverly Chamber of Commerce, saying a crew of about 100 would be filming in the Beverly area starting this month.

Mike Rauseo, the property owner and developer who hopes to turn the Cape Ann Tool Company site into a mixed-use residential and business lot, said he does not know much about the movie project other than that the property is rented for about three weeks.

He said he has not read the book himself, but "some of the people who work for me said the book is pretty good."

Work on the site, which has remained vacant since the 1980s, will start up whenever filming is finished, he said.

"Olive Kitteridge" tells the story of a New England town full of illicit affairs, crime and tragedy.

While the story line is no reflection on Rockport, movies and television shows have found themselves drawn to Pigeon Cove Harbor before.

Peter Webber, senior vice president of the Cape Ann Chamber Of Commerce, did not know the details of the production's workings, but recalled when "The Proposal," starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, was shot in Rockport a few years ago.

He said shooting a movie, television show or commercial does have a positive financial impact on communities. Cast and crew members visit shops and restaurants in the area, and the town's appearances on screen also get the word out about Cape Ann.

"The visibility on the screen for our area is a great boost," he said, recalling Bullock mentioning Rockport on a talk show when "The Proposal" was released.

Harder to measure is the money spent on production, location shooting, set design and materials, Webber said.

"We welcome HBO and Playtone to Massachusetts," said Lisa Strout, director of the state Film Office, in a prepared statement. "(We) are so pleased to host such a prestigious project with such extraordinary talent."

The production has hired and cast locally, and is using Massachusetts-based businesses and services. The series will also star actor Richard Jenkins.

This is the second trip to the North Shore for HBO. Last year, Larry David filmed scenes for his HBO movie "Clear History" on the North Shore, including at North Shore Music Theatre and Marino's Cafe in Beverly. "Clear History," also starring Kate Hudson, premiered in August.

The North Shore is no stranger to film crews this year. For much of the summer, crews for the movie "The Equalizer," starring Denzel Washington, have been filming all over the region including at the Crane Estate in Ipswich and Groton House Farm in Hamilton. The film, a big-screen adaptation of a 1980s television series, is expected to hit theaters next year.


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