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April 30, 2001

Shipping News hits high gear by Mark Vaughan-Jackson

After weeks of preparation — in the midst of one of the worst winters on record — filming for The Shipping News goes into high gear in Newfoundland this week. With locations in New Bonaventure and Dunfield, Trinity Bay, the film’s stars — Kevin Spacey, Judi Dench, Julianne Moore and Cate Blanchett — are expected on set later this week. And already the star spotters are out, according to John Fisher, operator of The Fisher’s Loft Inn in Port Rexton. “There’s definitely a star thing whizzing around,” he said. “There are people whizzing around in cars looking, which we didn’t really have with Random Passage … and in a way that’s nice. Rural Newfoundland has always sort of felt it was on the periphery of everything and suddenly it’s in the centre of  something.” Aside from the star spotters, Fisher said local residents are taking this latest film production on their doorsteps well in stride as they did last summer when the six-part Random Passage miniseries was filmed in the region.

The film boom has effectively created an entire, additional tourist season right before the regular summer season stars. Of the film’s $45-million budget, several million will be left in Newfoundland in direct and indirect economic spinoffs. Signs of film-related work are everywhere, Fisher said, from the 40 rented cars in the film production pool, to local fishermen hired to tow wharves across the bay, to perhaps as much as $100,000 spent locally on clearing snow from set locations throughout the winter. “I’ve never seen anything like this. … in every sense it’s like an occupation, an invasion in the best sense of the word,” Fisher said. “Everybody and his uncle seems to be getting a piece of this,” Fisher said. Perhaps the most overt sign of the film’s impact is the scarcity of beds in local hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Accommodations boost “There’s 120 rooms available in the Trinity Bight, the 12 communities around Trinity itself, but they have gone further afield. They’re in Lethbridge, Musgravetown, Bonavista and Port Union and places like that,” he said. “I think they must have found close to 200 rooms within a 30- or 40-minute drive of Trinity Bight where they’re doing most of the shooting.” What makes this activity all the more valuable is the fact that but for sheer luck, Shipping News may never have been made in this province at all. Fisher said he’s heard from David Gropman, the film’s designer, of how they literally stumbled across the New Bonaventure location for the film. “They were out to scout Trinity, which didn’t really fit what they were looking for, had some time in the afternoon and went to look at the Random Passage set just because they’re filmmakers and it was there. As they were driving towards the Random Passage set they passed through New Bonaventure out of the corner of their eye and it was really what they were looking for for the past five years,” Fisher said. “He says that having gone everywhere in Newfoundland, sort of by accident they came across the perfect location.”

Fisher said the kind of economic boost this film brings with it is enhanced still further by the long-term effects it will bring, in particular to the tourism sector. “You’re looking at 30 or 40 million people seeing a film like this and a major character is the Newfoundland landscape itself and the coastline,” Fisher said. “We think this will probably do more than those dreadfully, awkward, clumsy prefabricated Viking events — oh, did I say that?”

Stories important While the film will be responsible for a lot of good, Fisher said he thinks recognition should also go to the book that started the ball rolling. True, films bring a lot of money and tourism attention with them, but some recognition should go to the initial stories, he said, stories like E. Annie Proulx’s Shipping News, Bernice Morgan’s Random Passage and Ed Riche’s Rare Birds, recently turned into a film starring William Hurt. ‘Over the top’ “I think those three films alone, the miniseries Random Passage, Rare Birds and this combined — on the assumption that they’re liked — I think this will put Newfoundland over the top,” he said. “I really think the so-called cultural industry of publishing is driving a colossal amount of visitation here and I hear no one saying that.”


Rumor has it that shooting for The Shipping News moved north to St. John’s in Newfoundland, Canada on April 25th.


Old story from last month:

Being nice just gets Spacey stinky

National Post March 31, 2001

The only Canadian content at last Sunday’s Academy Awards came when presenter Kevin Spacey mentioned that Dame Judi Dench had brought his tux all the way from Nova Scotia, where the two had been shooting The Shipping News.

Spacey’s presence in Halifax, meanwhile, has created lots of buzz. A friend sent this e-mail last week, about the actor’s comings and goings:

“OK, there have been lots of Spacey sightings, so I’ve decided to keep everyone updated.

“Yesterday, Spacey was seen at Perks on Quinpool.

“Also, Jenn (who works here) said her boyfriend was walking a dog they are dog-sitting. He was waiting outside Grabba Jabba with the dog, when Spacey walks by. He stops, says “Is this your dog?” and starts petting it. The guy says “Watch out, this dog is pretty stinky.” Spacey agrees, and proceeds into Grabba to wash his hands!”

Exciting stuff.

Search Kevin Spacey for accompanying black/white photo from last year’s Oscars:

National Post April 10, 2001

Who you gonna call when you need to learn the accordion, East Coast-style? And pronto? Halifax’s Lisa MacDougall, I hear, is giving lessons to actress Julianne Moore to help her master the instrument for her role in the upcoming movie The Shipping News. Moore, along with Kevin Spacey, Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench, is currently in the Nova Scotia capital filming the movie. MacDougall, a feverish accordionist, is best known for her work in Rita MacNeil’s band.

Saturday April 14 1:33 PM EST Nova Scotia used for Shipping News film; locals watch for Spacey, Dench By ALISON AULD HALIFAX (CP) – Actors and crew huddle along a rocky outcrop on Nova Scotia’s rugged south shore, their movie set surrounded by aging fish shacks and tucked beneath the shadow of the fabled Peggy’s Cove lighthouse. Nearby, dozens of white trailers choke the coast’s twisting roads usually used by fishermen heading to their wharves and tourists seeking picturesque views, as crew members try in vain to whisk curious onlookers past. Hollywood is at work on this coastline and in various locations throughout Halifax, converting them into Mockingburg, N.Y., the bedraggled fictional setting of E. Annie Proulx’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Shipping News. The press room of a Halifax newspaper has become the setting of a quirky Newfoundland paper where the book’s main character, Quoyle, toils over news of car wrecks, the latest ships to pull into port and at least three or four sexual abuse stories per issue. A south shore beach was the site of a dramatic scene in which a house was pulled across a windswept pond. And a nondescript house on a Halifax street will stand in for a home in Mockingburg, a place so battered by recession that it has entered “its third death.” All of the activity has not only enthralled this small city, but helped elevate its stature in the film industry and put so many of its technicians to work that it’s hard to find an available crew member. “There is certainly a sense of excitement in the air,” says Leslie Adamson of the Directors Guild of Canada. “The community seems to be star-struck again having so many high-profile performers here. The town seems to have caught a little bit of star fever which we  haven’t had for a little while.” Since the film began shooting last month, Halifax has been captivated with the movie and its impressive roster of A-list actors that includes Oscar winners Kevin Spacey and Judi Dench, and Oscar nominees Julianne Moore and Cate Blanchett.

Local media desperate to get a whiff of celebrity and denied access to the actors on the closed set have hounded the stars, reporting where they’ve eaten, where they’re staying, what magazines they’re buying and even what kind of lingerie they’re picking up. The Halifax Chronicle-Herald reported that Spacey joked with gawkers last Monday during filming in the building. “There could be a breaking news story and you guys wouldn’t even know,” he teased reporters who were watching. “I can’t wait to see the paper tomorrow.” The city’s biggest library has a waiting list for its copies of the book and several bookstores, including Chapters, can’t keep shipments of the novel on their shelves. The province’s profile soared briefly too when Spacey mentioned to 800 million people watching the Academy Awards last month that he had forgotten his tuxedo in Nova Scotia. The attention is also due to Proulx’s best-selling book, an endearing story of 36-year-old Quoyle, a born loser who gives up on life in the U.S. and returns with his two young children Bunny and Sunshine to his ancestral homeland of Newfoundland seeking redemption and a better life.

The picture, budgeted at $30 million US and using a crew of about 200 people, is one of the most prestigious films to come to Halifax, which is also hosting about five other productions. Yellow signs are competing for space on guideposts throughout the city, directing crews to the various production locations that include a shoot at a Halifax shipyard for K-19: The Widowmaker, starring Harrison Ford. Several other co-productions and movies of the week are also being filmed or are about to start in the city, which normally experiences a slowdown in production at this time of year. “This is great for Atlantic Canada – a lot of people are being employed and that’s why it’s important to us,” said Charlotte Shurko of the Motion Picture Studio Production Technicians of the IATSE film union. “It’s definitely growing here.” The film shoot, which will move to a small Newfoundland outport in the next few weeks, is being directed by Lasse Hallstrom, who has been nominated for Oscars for the movies Chocolat and The Cider House Rules. There were rumours it might not make it to Newfoundland since Maine had been contemplated as a stand-in for the island, especially when John Travolta and Billy Bob Thornton were reportedly considering the role of Quoyle. So far, some of the producers involved in the film, due to be released widely in the new year, say the experience of coming to Halifax has been a good one.

“We’ve all had a great time here,” said co-producer Diana Pokorny, who has also been shooting at a sound stage in Dartmouth, N.S. “Movie-wise, we’re all really happy with what we’re getting.”

(Article has a small photo of Kevin from 1996.)

Tuesday April 10, 2001 Monday at the movies
ilm crew lights up The Herald in Halifax
by Susan LeBlanc Halifax Herald

HALIFAX – A red-haired Kevin Spacey joked with gawkers Monday during filming of his Hollywood movie in The Herald Building.

“There could be a breaking news story and you guys wouldn’t even know,” he teased reporters watching on the set of The Shipping News.

“I can’t wait to see the paper tomorrow,” said Mr. Spacey, a two-time Oscar winner.

Producers of the movie, which stars Mr. Spacey, Julianne Moore and Judi Dench, shot at least four different scenes in a day that began at 6 a.m. in The Herald’s press room and lasted 13 hours.

The big-budget production, directed by Lasse Hallstrom, brought a legion of crew members who carted tonnes of equipment from press room to second-floor lunchroom to third-floor newsroom. Their trucks filled Grafton and Market streets.

The movie is filming in Nova Scotia until about the end of April, moves to Newfoundland and returns here in June, when actress Cate Blanchett will join the shoot.

In the press room scene, Mr. Spacey’s character Quoyle is seated on a pile of boxes beside the rolling presses. Though he’s supposed to be on watch, he’s dozing despite the deafening roar.

Quoyle wears the dark blue coveralls, workboots and ear protectors worn by The Herald’s press team.

Mr. Spacey’s hair has been reddened, perhaps in reference to the character’s Newfoundland heritage.

“Quoyle? Quoyle?” shouts Canadian actor Ken James, who plays a “newspaper boss.” “Is the job not stimulating enough for you?” Mr. James asks.

“Yes, ah, no,” Mr. Spacey answers. “This is the best job I’ve ever had.”

The scene is rehearsed, changed and shot a number of times while the presses roll.

At the request of the filmmakers, The Herald agreed to have a comics section marked with the masthead of the Mockingburg Record, a fictional newspaper set in fictional Mockingburg, N.Y., speeding along the conveyor belt.

In between takes, Mr. Spacey, 41, clowned around, tried to smear black chalk on a makeup artist and danced a little jig to the rhythm of the presses.

“Kevin shook my hand and introduced himself,” said Dan Publicover, one of three Herald pressmen who may appear in the film as extras.

“They just wanted us moving around in the background,” Mr. Publicover said.

Later, Mr. Spacey joked that he had made sure not to touch anything in the inky press room.

Many crew members wore white jumpsuits over their clothes in response to a warning to “wear your worst clothes” in the grimy environment.

In a scene shot Monday afternoon in a staff lunchroom, Mr. Spacey had to chomp into a cheeseburger during numerous takes.

He related a tale of his first film dinner scene, which took four days to shoot. “You learn very quickly in film” not to eat a lot during takes, he said.

Asked if he had put on weight to play Quoyle, who is described as fleshy in the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel being adapted into film, Mr. Spacey said not really.

“If I’d really wanted to, I’d have had to start eating at the Economy Shoe Shop a lot earlier,” he said with a smile.

He also mentioned that he is taking scuba diving lessons for dream sequences in the movie and plans to get certified as a diver.

The day ended with Canadian actor Daniel Kash playing a short scene in The Herald’s newsroom as police officer Danzig. Last week, set decorators transformed a corner of the newsroom into a New York state police station, complete with older-model computer, police documents, a police vest hanging on a chair and a small American flag. The area was taped off and off limits until filming began.

Film co-producer Diana Pokorny said things are going “fabulously.”

“In fact, we’ve all had a great time here. Movie-wise, we’re all really happy with what we’re getting and everything else. So it’s really good.”

Ms. Pokorny has worked previously with Mr. Hallstrom, cinematographer Oliver Stapleton and production designer David Gropman.

The picture has been shooting at the Cinesite and Tour Tech East sound stages in Dartmouth, as well as on location in Blandford and other scenic locales.

A dialect coach from the United States is advising the cast on the New York, Newfoundland and other accents needed. Both the novel and the film open in Upstate New York and move to Newfoundland, where Quoyle goes to discover his past and his self.

In May, the crew plans to shoot mostly exterior footage in Newfoundland. They’ve found a point of land they’ll call Quoyle’s Point and will use a composite of a number of towns to create the fictional community Killick-Claw.

Ms. Pokorny said she likes that the picture “takes you to this place that so few people know about, and the sort of magic of that and discovering a new place.”

“And the same way for Quoyle,” she continued. “It’s a new place and it’s sort of an adventure. I think for the audience there’s a potential of that too because . . . it’s not a place that’s commonly filmed in movies. And it is so unique-looking.”

But mostly, Ms. Pokorny said, she loves “the journey of Quoyle, of how he changes and how he’s affected by these people.”

Hollywood pulled into The Halifax Herald on Monday, shooting segments for the Miramax feature, The Shipping News, starring Kevin Spacey

by Susan LeBlanc Halifax Herald

HALIFAX – Kevin Spacey says things are going great in Nova Scotia.

Spacey, who’s here filming The Shipping News, approached staff of The Herald and chatted pleasantly during a shoot in the building Monday.

“I love it that you guys are giving us props,” he said as a Herald staffer scooted by with plastic cups intended for a lunchroom scene.

Spacey did the scene a number of times and had to bite into a cheeseburger repeatedly.

“Cheeseburgers for everybody,” he joked.

While shooting another scene earlier in the day, he’d had to bite into a chocolate eclair.

Crew pay such attention to detail that the prop master worried later about how things would look on screen. The icing on some eclairs was shiny, he said, but looked dull on others.

Last week, film crew began preparing The Herald for the shoot by changing light bulbs in some areas and repainting others.

For their sound stage set of the Gammy Bird, the Newfoundland newspaper where Spacey’s character gets a job, producers rented an old light table from The Herald and snapped up props such as grungy garbage cans, reporters’ used notebooks, wire baskets and an old machine used for waxing stories and laying them on the pages – a layout method that is no longer used.

Preliminary work began months ago, and producers toured the building a number of times. Their thoughts ranged from using the space as a newsroom, then a social services office and, finally, a police station.

All along, though, they loved the look and character of The Herald’s presses, some of which date to 1949 but are due to be replaced.

One of Spacey’s scenes was shot in front of the presses Monday.

Preparations culminated earlier this year in a “tech tour” of 30 or so people, including director Lasse Hallström, the first and second assistant directors, set decorators, lighting experts, the cinematographer, producers and props specialists.

Shooting continues in Nova Scotia until late April, switches to Newfoundland for exterior work in May and returns to Nova Scotia in June.

The Shipping News is expected to be released at Christmas in New York and Los Angeles.

The Daily News Worldwide Online Halifax, Nova Scotia

Thursday, April 5, 2001

Metro starstruck as Ford, Neeson, Moore, Spacey, Postlethwaite visit

Movie star power electrifies metro By BETH JOHNSTON — The Daily News

Three of Hollywood’s heartthrobs are sleeping in metro.

Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson arrived in Halifax Tuesday night on a chartered flight that landed at a private hangar at Halifax International Airport.

Limousines drove out onto the tarmac to meet the film stars and whisk them downtown for a quick sleep at the Prince George Hotel before they started filming K-19: The Widowmaker at the Halifax Shipyard yesterday.

Last night, the pair, who starred in both the original Star Wars (Ford as Hans Solo) and The Phantom Menace (Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn), arrived at their top-floor suites together around 8 p.m. (Ford has a view of Citadel Hill and Neeson overlooks the harbour). They reunited at 9 p.m. at the hotel bar.

Kevin Spacey is said to be staying at the same hotel while in town filming The Shipping News with Julianne Moore and Dame Judi Dench.

But Spacey was nowhere to be seen at the hotel last night.

Moore, who starred in Boogie Nights, Robert Altman’s Shortcuts and Magnolia with Tom Cruise, arrived Monday afternoon with her young son Caleb and a woman staff at the airport thought was her nanny.

“It’s nice so far and I’m looking forward to staying. But I just got in,” Ford said when asked by a reporter about Halifax.

The 58-year-old Oscar nominee was wearing a baseball hat and carrying a briefcase when he checked in last night. An hour later, he entered the candlelit bar wearing wire-rimmed glasses, his greying hair neatly coiffed and hands in the pockets of his brown leather aviator jacket.

He sat with Neeson, who was having a glass of red wine, and was soon joined by The Shipping News cast members Pete Postlethwaite (In the Name of the Father, The Last of the Mohicans) and Welsh actor Rhys Ifans, who played Hugh Grant’s underwear-wearing roommate, Spike, in Notting Hill.

Neeson and Ifans were introduced and shook hands. Most of the bar patrons were film-industry types who seemed unfazed by the plethora of movie stars surrounding them.

But at least one couple was star struck.

“I was in the elevator with Harrison Ford,” a young man told his female companion.

“Get out! No, really, don’t you lie to me if it’s not true,” the girl replied.

One of the waitresses who served Ford said he treated her “very well” in the tip department.

Hotel staff were tightlipped and reluctant to even acknowledge who they were serving.

Ford only stayed at the hotel bar for about 45 minutes before strolling with two female escorts down Prince Street to the Press Gang, an upscale restaurant, where he took a table in a private section.

Neeson, 48, stuck it out at the hotel bar, chewing on a toothpick, while Postlethwaite and Ifans smoked Marlboro Lights and finished their beer. The three then sauntered down to the Press Gang for a late dinner downstairs around 10:20.

By midnight, Ford had gone to the Economy Shoe Shop and Neeson was still holding court at a large table of jovial patrons at the Press Gang.

Other stars who have been in the area over the past few weeks include Christine Lahti, Tim Meadows, Sex and the City’s Kristen Davis and Ewan McGregor.

The Daily News Worldwide Online Sunday, April 1, 2001

Have you seen these stars? Spacey voracious reader By Beth Johnston — The Daily News

Daily News reporter Beth Johnston is on the scent of Hollywood celebrities

No one knew who Keyser Soze was, but some lucky Haligonians are piecing together tidbits about Kevin Spacey.

The film star – who won an Oscar for the Soze character in The Usual Suspects and another for American Beauty – is in town filming The Shipping News with Dame Judi Dench.

Most people I talked to were worried about the stars’ privacy and were unwilling to give up the goods.

“We are very careful not to talk out of school,” said a smirking concierge at Prince George Hotel, where Spacey is rumoured to be staying.

Others, thankfully, were a little more talkative.

The Sunday before last weekend’s Oscars – where, alas, he wasn’t nominated but won Nova Scotians’ affection for mentioning us – the 42-year-old star walked into The Press Gang on Prince Street dressed in a puffy ski jacket and ball cap.

Manager Jennifer Halpin didn’t recognize him until he sat down, took off his cap and started poring over a script.

“I asked him if he was alone, and he said, `Yes, I have a lot of work to do,'” said Halpin.

When restaurant owner Victor Syperek asked Spacey how he was enjoying Halifax, he said he hadn’t seen much of the city because filming had been hectic. And he had been trying to get caught up on his sleep.

“He wasn’t very fussy at all,” Halpin said, ticking off his order of calamari, wild-mushroom risotto and a glass of white house wine.

The star of L.A. Confidential and Pay it Forward has been cruising around town in a Land Rover leased at a local Volvo dealership.

He has visited several downtown hotspots, including Syperek’s clubs, The Economy Shoe Shop and the Marquee.

But, apparently, he hasn’t let his reading slip.

Spacey picked up six or seven newspapers, including The Daily News, The New York Times and USA Today, and a dozen entertainment and news magazines at the Blowers Street Paperchase early one Saturday morning a few weeks ago.

Spotting a familiar face when Spacey entered the small store, clerk Rich Terfry asked, “How are you doing?”

“He looked at me like, `Do I know you?'”

Then it dawned on Terfry that the tall man in the winter hat and coat was a movie star.

Terfry said Spacey used American cash to pay for his $50 worth of reading materials, but got confused by the exchange rate.

“He went to give me more money than he owed,” he said.

Terfry was “halfway impressed” with Spacey’s choices.

“It wasn’t a bunch of garbage like men’s magazines, but a lot of newspapers and stuff.”

A man Terfry suspects is Spacey’s personal assistant has been “buying every entertainment title we carry” since shooting began.

Spacey nodded at Terfry when the two passed on Blowers Street the next day. Spacey also recognized Syperek at the film’s meet-and-greet party at the Marquee.

“What are you doing here?” Spacey asked.

“I own it,” Syperek replied, confusing Spacey, who replied, “`I thought you owned the Shoe Shop?'”

An 11-year-old son of one of Syperek’s employees who wants to become a chef was in the kitchen at the Marquee Club that night.

Spacey told the young man he admired his cooking abilities.

“If I boil water, it burns,” he said.

“Actually, sir, that’s impossible,” the boy responded.

Thanks again, Barry!


Tentative release for The Shipping News: Limited release end of 2001, wide release in January 2002.

Tuesday March 27  Behr nails down ‘Shipping News’ role for Miramax

By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) — Jason Behr (The WB Network’s “Roswell”) has joined Kevin Spacey, Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench, Rhys Ifans and Pete Postlethwaite in Miramax Films’ “The Shipping News” for director Lasse Hallstrom. The project is shooting in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning best seller of the same name by E. Annie Proulx, “Shipping” tells the story of a newspaper reporter (Spacey) who moves with his young daughter, Bunny, to his ancestral home on the Newfoundland coast after his cheating wife is killed in a car accident. While in the quaint town, the reporter writes the shipping news for the local paper, the Gammy Bird, as he confronts his private demons and falls in love with a lonely single mother (Julianne Moore). Behr will play Dennis Buggit, a local carpenter battling his own demons and whose estranged father (Scott Glenn) owns the local newspaper.

Identical 8-year-old triplets Kaitlyn, Lauren and Alyssa Gainer (“Cast Away”) have been cast as Bunny.

Rob Cowan, Linda Goldstein Knowlton, Irwin Winkler and Leslie Holleran are producing.

Behr is repped by WMA and manager Robert Stein. The Gainer triplets are repped by Cindy Osbrink of the Osbrink Talent Agency.

Yahoo News! and The Hollywood Reporter

Monday, March 26, 2001 The Halifax Herald Limited
Spacey leaves tuxedo in Nova Scotia

OscarTuxActor Kevin Spacey had Judi Dench to thank for his classy duds on Oscar night.

Spacey left his tuxedo in Nova Scotia, where he is filming The Shipping News.

Dench, who will also star in the film about a man who leaves the United States to work at a Newfoundland weekly newspaper, brought Spacey’s tux to Los Angeles.

During remarks while presenting the Oscar for best actress on Sunday evening, he thanked Dench for her ‘classiest’ delivery service.

The Shipping News is based on the novel by Annie Proulx.

Cate Blanchett and Rhys Ifans also star in the movie.

Copyright © 2001 The Halifax Herald Limited

(Thank you, Barry)

Sunday, March 25, 2001
The Daily News
By Marla Cranston

A small delegation of Hollywood heavy-hitters flew out of Halifax over the
weekend to attend tonight’s Academy Awards show.

OscarParty2001Kevin Spacey–whom Haligonians have affectionately taken to calling “the Space-man” during his stay here to film The Shipping News–isn’t up for anything this year, but it’s tradition for the best actor award to be presented by the previous year’s winner.*

He earned last year’s Oscar for his portrayal of Lester, the middle-aged suburbanite who has an emotional breakdown in American Beauty, which won
best picture.

Three other Shipping News travellers could return to Halifax with little gold men in their luggage: director Lasse Hallström, producer Leslie Holleron and actor Judi Dench, who are all nominated for their work on Chocolat. Hallstrom’s The Cider House Rules was nominated for seven Oscars last year and took two, for screenplay (John Irving) and best supporting actor (Michael Caine).

It won’t be much of a holiday–The Shipping News resumes filming on Tuesday
at Burnside’s Tour Tech and Cinesite sound stages. A film spokesman, asking
that his name not be used, wanted to correct inflated impressions of the movie’s budget, which is $30 million US, not the $70 million figure widely reported.

There has still been no sign of past Oscar nominees Julianne Moore or Cate Blanchett, also starring in the Miramax film adaptation of E. Annie Proulx’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. But there have been a few Spacey and Dench sightings during their two-week stay here. Dench is reportedly enchanted with folk artist Maud Lewis’ work, and enjoyed a meal at the Press Gang** oyster bar. Spacey couldn’t find a table at the popular Prince Street eatery one night, but apparently consoled himself with a quiet corner at Big Leagues, a Cole Harbour tavern.

“One of the waitresses and a few of the customers are pretty sure it was him here last Friday night, just hangin’ out at the bar,” said a bartender named Ron. “He might end up coming back here, because he sat by himself and wasn’t bothered by anybody.”

(Thanks to Lisa x, NS)

March 20, 2001: 

Pete Postlethwaite has been added to the cast as the managing editor of the paper where Quoyle works.


THE GLOBE AND MAIL March 20, 2001 Stars make waves in Halifax Dench, Spacey, Moore, Blanchett are blowing into town for the filming of The Shipping News by Elaine Flaherty HALIFAX — Just a few blocks away from the mansions of this city’s sedate south end, Hollywood is working its strange magic. Winter and the huge cushion of snow that has smothered the Nova Scotia capital for seemingly endless months have been vanquished — or, at least, are being vanquished anew each time a new storm system moves in. On a small patch of Atlantic Street, and in front of one nondescript green shingled house in particular, the snow is scraped away in preparation for what most consider the most prestigious movie shoot ever to hit Nova Scotia. With the port’s grain elevators towering in the background, this part of Halifax is standing in for Mockingburg, N.Y., one of what E. Annie Proulx calls “a shuffle of dreary upstate towns” in her novel The Shipping News. This is where her stumbling, “hive-spangled,” third-rate journalist protagonist Quoyle begins the journey that carries him to Killick-Claw, Nfld., and his redemption in love and life. Shooting is either happening or about to happen in several spots around Halifax — on Atlantic Street, at a sound stage in Dartmouth, in the offices of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, and at Cleveland Beach on the province’s South Shore. Exteriors have also been shot on Cape Breton Island. This is not the first major Hollywood production to land in Nova Scotia since the province’s film industry began to take off about seven years ago. Parts of Titanic were shot here, and so was The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore and Dolores Claiborne with Kathy Baker. More recently, Sarah Polley and Sean Penn were around to film The Weight of Water. Right now, in Halifax harbour, on an aging Russian sub, work is under way on K-19: The Widowmaker, with Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. But The Shipping News has undeniable clout and star power. “We’ve seen a lot of celebrities come through Halifax lately,” says Marilyn Smulders, entertainment editor of the Halifax Daily News. “But this whole project has a lot of class.” It’s a project that, as is often the case with novel-based works, has taken its time getting off the ground. John Travolta and Billy Bob Thornton had reportedly been interested in it, and on one occasion there were rumours that Maine would be standing in for Newfoundland. This incarnation is being directed by Lasse Hallstrom, whose pictures The Cider House Rules and Chocolat have been nominated for Academy Awards in the past two years. Budgeted at $70-million, it’s starring Kevin Spacey and Judi Dench, both Oscar winners, along with Julianne Moore and Cate Blanchett, both of whom have been nominated previously. Also on board is Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent. The raw material is pretty good, too. Proulx’s novel, after all, was both a critical and popular success, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 and topping most of the bestseller lists in North America that year and the year before. Ann MacKenzie, chief executive officer of the Nova Scotia Film Development Corp., can’t hide her glee about what the movie means to the province’s $99-million film and television industry. “It means a lot of money spent in the province. It means a lot of people working in the industry,” she says. “And it’s pretty exciting to have someone like Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey in town.” For now, Miramax, the production company, is clamping down on any publicity. “Has this call been cleared with the publicist?” asks Jay Mason, site foreman for the company that brought spring to Atlantic Street. “Sorry about that,” he apologizes, as he refuses to talk. But while movie crews and big stars may be able to get lost in cities such as Toronto and Vancouver, it’s a lot harder to hide Oscar’s favourites in Halifax, because, with a metropolitan population of about 350,000, it’s essentially a big small town. Dench and Spacey have been here for several days, while Moore* and Blanchett are expected to arrive any day now. Despite the publicity ban, reporters for both of the city’s two newspapers were able to get a word with the two major stars at a crew and cast party earlier in the month. Dench told a reporter she loved the works by folk artist Maud Lewis at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Spacey, on the other hand, was thinking ahead to when shooting moves to Newfoundland in June — second-unit crews will start filming exteriors there in early April — and expressed concerns about “this drink called Screech and something about kissing a cod.” Smulders says her paper’s readers are very interested in the movie. “Everyone is going out to the [Economy] Shoe Shop to see some celebrities,” she says, referring to a popular watering hole. Victor Syperek, who owns the Shoe Shop, part of a funky complex of bars, restaurants and clubs, hosted the pre-shoot party and loves the extra business The Shipping News attracts. “It definitely impacts on us,” he says. “There’s a lot of star-gazing, and the people who work on the film come in.” His bars and restaurants are good places to see celebrities, he says. Sean Penn, Jeff Bridges and Joseph Fiennes have dropped by while in town and, just last week, Dench had dinner at one of his restaurants. “I think what people like about Halifax is that they can walk around unhounded,” says Syperek. “When Sean Penn was in town, he told me that as he got used to it he realized that beyond the odd autograph, no one bothered him.”


THE HALIFAX HERALD LIMITED March 11, 2001 Whos Who Shipping News rolling in Halifax Spacey, Dench show up for pre-shoot party By Greg Guy CULTURE CLUB IT NEVER RAINS, but it pours. The film industry in Nova Scotia is once again at peak performance. With so many productions going on it seems technical crews are stepping into work, one film after the other. This is the most exciting time in the film industry here since James Cameron began his Titanic blockbuster in Halifax Harbour. The province is abuzz with the arrival of The Shipping News, and the Harrison Ford flick, K-19: The Widowmaker which shoots here in May. Last night, a pre-camera party was held at Hell’s Kitchen, below the Marquee on Gottingen Street for those involved in The Shipping News. Stars Kevin Spacey, Dame Judi Dench and director Lasse Hallström mingled with the technical crew and several locals who are helping with the movie. Spacey was extremely friendly as he mingled through the party. His executive assistant was always close at hand. Spacey said he’s looking forward to his time in Halifax. Dench said she was out for a walk in the city and “loved the old feel of it.” “The people are extremely friendly,” said Dench, who is nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for her role as a grandmother in Chocolat. She had a long chat with bar owner Victor Syperek and told him how pleased she was with her dinner this week at The Press Gang. Despite her years of experience in the movie biz, she admitted she always gets nervous starting a new project. Spacey arrived in town last week. The Shipping News is about a newspaperman who survives an awful marriage to a woman who runs off with his daughters. The man saves the girls, moves with them to Newfoundland and takes a job writing the shipping news, while slowly discovering his own identity and some dark family secrets. He also finds a new love named Wavey (Julianne Moore) to heal his heart. The daughters will be played by triplets from Texas. They approached both Spacey and Dench for autographs at last night’s party. Cate Blanchett and Rhys Ifans will also star in the movie. Halifax actor John Dunsworth has been cast as Quoyle’s father. He will be seen very early in the feature film. Some other local actors will be playing stand-ins. Deb Allen will be Dench’s stand-in and Kevin Nugent, I’m told, will be Spacey’s double. Excitement is also building here at The Herald, with our pressroom, newsroom and lunch room being used in the movie in April. One day last week director Hallström (My Life As a Dog, Chocolat, The Cider House Rules) and a team of about 20 crew, including locations supervior Charlie Harrington combed our newsroom, checking on the best possible area for the film. This week the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation announced that more than $99 million in production dollars was lobbed into the provincial economy in the last fiscal year. While local production accounted for $64 million in revenue for the province, with such productions as the sci-fi series Lexx, Liography with Leslie Nielsen, the movie Blessed Stranger: After Flight 111, Mike Clattenburg’s Trailer Park Boys, and of course the award-winning work from Salter Street’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Made In Canada and Blackfly. The other $35 million is coming from guest productions and Hollywood biggies. Nova Scotians are getting used to Hollywood stars coming to our towns and cities. Last fall, we’ve seen James Caan and Sean Patrick Leonard in Glimpse of Hell, Frances Fisher of Titanic fame in Passion and Prejudice, Linda Hamilton in the Disney movie Bailey’s Mistake and Christopher Walken, James LeGros (Ally McBeal) and Maura Tierney (ER) in the New York independent film Scotland PA. With all of this film production, Ann MacKenzie, the bubbly and hard-working chief executive officer of the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation, says more projects are being scouted for the province. On April 14, a CBS movie of the week, A Town Without Christmas will begin shooting in Halifax, Hubbards and Chester. And the Toronto-based Knightscover Production of the feature film, Let Virginia Ride, starring Gabriel Byrne is headed for Shelburne. With all this production we’re in for another banner year of filmmaking in Nova Scotia. Greg Guy is entertainment editor of The Chronicle-Herald, The Mail-Star and The Sunday Herald. His next column appears April 8. E-mail: Copyright © 2001 The Halifax Herald Limited


March 11, 2001

Employees of the hotel Kevin is staying at in Halifax, were instructed to leave him alone and not seek autographs. He is said to have asked for a pool table for his room. (Wouldn’t a pad of paper with the hotel’s name and some stamps have been a better request? This would be a great time for someone who shall remain nameless to catch up on answering his fan mail.) Kevin’s hotel room poll.


Sunday, March 11, 2001 Shipping News cast, crew get acquainted at Halifax club By SCOTT MACDONALD — The Daily News In the dim light of the Marquee Club, eight-year-old identical triplets travel single file through a crowd of adults twice their size and stop in front of a smallish woman with short-cropped silver hair. The Gainer sisters stare expectantly at her and hold aloft three pens and three “Hello Kitty” notebooks. “Hi, Judi,” the girls say in unison, “can we have your autograph?” The woman, dressed all in white and holding a glass of champagne, is Dame Judi Dench, Oscar-winning actress and star of the films Chocolat and Shakespeare in Love. The triplets are her latest co-stars. Dench and the girls are in town to film The Shipping News, a $70-million Hollywood flick that starts a four-month-long shoot in Halifax tomorrow. Also at the meet-and-greet for cast and crew last night is fellow Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey, unshaven, wearing a baseball cap and baggy sweater. He crosses the room and greets Dench with a big hug. Spacey, who plays the lead role in the film, has only been in town for a day. He says he’s still getting used to the surroundings. “Someone was telling me about this drink called Screech, and something about kissing a cod,” he says, looking vaguely confused. “I thought they were pulling my leg for a moment.” Dench has been in town for more than a week, and she says she’s been “enjoying herself immensely.” She particularly enjoyed the Maud Lewis exhibit at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. “That was just fabulous,” she says with her famous British intonations. Lasse Hallstrom, the film’s director, is also in the crowd. The two other big stars of the production, Julianne Moore and Cate Blanchett, will be arriving in Halifax in the days ahead. (Thanks Barry)


March 9 edition of the Daily News: By Marla Cranston Two venerable Canadian actors will be working alongside the Oscar-calibre cast of The Shipping News. Gordon Pinsent has been hired to play a character named Billy Pretty, and Halifax’s John Dunsworth gets to be Kevin Spacey’s dad. Spacey, who earned last year’s best acting Oscar for American Beauty, is taking on a decidedly schleppy role as Quoyle, a hapless small-town journalist who rescues his children from his estranged wife and moves to his ancestral home in Newfoundland. The $70-million Miramax film starts rolling Monday at the Tour Tech East soundstage in Burnside, which has already been inundated with phone calls from star-seekers. It will be here until the end of June, a film spokesman confirmed yesterday. Most Halifax scenes are being shot indoors, before the crew moves to Trinity, Nfld. for exterior shots. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning story by E. Annie Proulx, it’s bound to be an Oscar contender, with Academy favourite Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, Cider House Rules) in the director’s chair and a formidable cast: Spacey, Julianne Moore, Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett and Welsh actor Rhys Ifans. Canadian casting is ongoing and the film still hasn’t filled a couple of key children’s parts.


The Shipping News is reported to have already filmed a few weeks in Maine, USA

Gordon Pinsent latest to join Shipping News The Shipping News will be shooting at The Herald Building in late March. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by E. Annie Proulx, the Miramax feature starring Kevin Spacey and Julianne Moore will include several short scenes at The Herald, including the main lobby, the press room, the mailing room, the second-floor circulation department and the lunchroom overlooking Sackville Street. Spacey will be involved in these scenes. The Herald is being used as an upstate New York daily, the Mockingbird Record, as well as a social services office and a police station. Shooting is expected to take place in late March. The Shipping News will also star Cate Blancett, Rhys Ifans and Judy Dench. The Tattler has learned that Gordon Pinsent was in town last week reading for a part.

Scott Glenn in a role to be announced soon. No announcement as to the actresses who will play Kevin’s daughters.

Cate Blanchette will be Petal, Quoyle’s ex-wife.

Welsh actor Rhys Ifans has signed up to join Kevin Spacey in the big screen adaptation of ‘The Shipping News’. Ifans is set to play the peculiarly titled Nutbeem, a lanky Englishman with a dry sense of humor who works on the paper as the foreign news editor.

Movie is scheduled to start filming March 5, 2001.

Lasse Hallstrom has signed up Oscar winner Judi Dench to join Kevin Spacey and Julianne Moore in his film version of the Pulitzer Award-winning novel, The Shipping News.  Dame Judi Dench says she may be looking at a part in the movie. Julianne Moore is to be Wavey.

Robert Nelson Jacobs brought in to rewrite script.

Julianne Moore is rumored to be Kevin’s co-star and the film is to be directed by Lasse Hallstrom of The Cider House Rules. The release date hasn’t been announced, but it will probably be out sometime in late 2001 or early 2002.

Set to begin filming this year, Kevin Spacey will portray Quoyle.  Quoyle is a troubled man who moves his daughters and his aunt to a remote town to rebuild their lives. Filming will be in Newfoundland and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Based on the book by E. Annie Proulx

Angry Philip Seymour Hoffman fan is so outraged by Kevin’s hiring that he writes a letter to a magazine complaining he was only hired because he’s a BIG STAR. That must make Kevin’s accountant, agent and mother happy.

Kevin is hired to portray Quoyle.

Lasse Halstrom to direct The Shipping News


‘Shipping’ Lose

The director of the movie version of “The Shipping News” bows out, leaving John Travolta without a rudder

by Josh Wolk

The movie version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1994 novel “The Shipping News” has lost its skipper. Director Fred Schepisi (“Roxanne,” “Fierce Creatures”) has bowed out of the project, which would have started filming this fall with John Travolta and his wife, Kelly Preston. Schepisi’s reasons weren’t made public, but Columbia Pictures will have to scramble to find another director so it won’t lose the always busy Travolta. Since the main character is described in the book as an oafish, overweight reporter, the new director will need an early start to get Travolta on a high-fat diet. (Posted:10/02/98