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A small rural town is slowly fading away as the industries it once relied on have turned to dust, leaving empty, vacant warehouses across the landscape. Young people leave, yearning for the lights and excitement of the nearby big cities. Old Georgiana Carr, once an heir herself but now in the same financial extreme as her neighbors, sadly decides to sell her house, the house she lived in her whole life.

But when a stranger, Mr. Gus Leroy, comes to town with an offer to rent one of Georgina’s warehouses and the promise of a new business venture that will turn things around, the residents are intrigued and excited. As they embrace the newcomer, he becomes involved in their professional and personal lives in a way none of them expected, especially after they discover that Leroy’s business could put them all in danger.

Orlando Bloom
Harris Parker
Amber Tamblyn
Mary Saunders
Colin Firth
Gus Leroy
Patricia Clarkson
Ellen Burstyn
Georgiana Carr
Andrew McCarthy
Howard Mercer

'Main Street' filming set to wrap up
(The Herald-Sun, May 2, 2009, by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan)

Filming of "Main Street," the movie set in Durham and starring Orlando Bloom, Colin Firth and Ellen Burstyn, is close to wrapping up.

A few quick scenes will be shot today. Cast and crew take Sunday off, then film Monday and Tuesday before the actors leave the Bull City for good. The rest of production will stay until Friday to film a car wreck scene on N.C. 540.

The N.C. Department of Transportation is closing a portion of N.C. 540 in Wake County nightly next week for the filming. "Main Street" unit publicist David Linck said that there won't be any stunt work in the scene. The aftermath will be filmed, and edited to look like an actor was in the car when the crash occurs.

The part of 540 being closed isn't the busily traveled Interstate 540, but a section of N.C. 540 between Davis Drive and N.C. 55 from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday. One lane of eastbound N.C. 540 and the Davis Drive exit ramp will be closed today through Friday for scene preparations. Signs will signal detour routes.

Filming Monday and Tuesday will set the stage for the wreck scene. Thursday night, "Main Street" temporarily closed the area in front of the former Hotel Ferrell building at 123 W. Main St. In the scene, a Durham police officer drops Firth off at the hotel. The police officer character is not Bloom, who also plays a Durham cop. On Friday, Bloom was filmed at the main branch of the Durham Public Library on Roxboro Street downtown. His character was studying law at the library.

In the film, Firth plays a stranger who comes to Durham and rents an old tobacco warehouse from Burstyn. The Academy Award-winning actress left Durham a few weeks ago after completing her scenes....

Linck said filming in Durham is ending on schedule, maybe even a little early....filming was pretty seamless with all local departments. Aside from downtown locations like Orange Street, the library, Trinity United Methodist Church and Magnolia Grill on Ninth Street, filming also occurred in private residences and an abandoned warehouse on Cheek Road. In the warehouse, they built a set for Tamblyn's character's house interior.

Linck estimated about a year of post production work on "Main Street" before it would be ready to hit theaters.

Colin Firth on Main Street
(Independent Weekly, May 1, 2009, by Denise Prickett)

A police car dropped Colin Firth off at his hotel last night … over and over again.

Downtown Durham was transformed into a rainy, film-noirish set during filming for Main Street. Indy culture editor David Fellerath and photographer Jeremy M. Lange were there, at the corner of Corcoran and Main.

See pics in On Location Gallery

They're wrapping up on 'Main Street'
Urban yet small-town Durham provides the setting for another film
(Raleigh News & Observer, Apr 27, 2009, by Elizabeth Shestak)
There is a brick wall in downtown Durham, the side of which is covered with peeling green paint. It sits pretty much in the center of the city, and beside it rests a small urban park.

A few blocks away, there is a large, rambling white house with Georgian columns, and across sits a television station, a wall and black iron fence. And a few miles away, in an unassuming warehouse off Cheek Road, the cast of the movie "Main Street" shoots interior scenes in flats
rooms built within the warehouse. One is made to look like a hotel suite where Colin Firth's character is staying, another like the small, modest dwelling in which Amber Tamblyn's character resides. This mix of beauty and dilapidation, of the industrial and the traditional, embodies the reason Durham not only inspired the late Horton Foote's screenplayit's also why Durham was chosen for the shoot.

"Main Street," the latest movie to be filmed in Durham, began shooting mid-March, and will wrap up sometime during the first week or two of May, said David Linck, unit publicist. Durham was chosen not only for its accessibility, but for its authenticity.

"Where you shoot a movie makes a huge difference," said Firth, known as Mr. Darcy from the BBC's production of "Pride and Prejudice," as well as his lead role in "Bridget Jones' Diary."

While Firth plays a Texan, Tamblyn, known from her role on the TV series "Joan of Arcadia," her new role on "The Unusuals" and the movie "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," is playing Mary, a young local who's never left town.

"As an actor you get to adapt to the people, the personalities" of where you're filming, she said. "I think we're very lucky to be shooting in the place the movie takes place."

Being in the real location of the script, rather than a stage designed to look like the screenplay's settings, provides a sort of immersion for the actors even though Durham will not be portrayed in documentary fashion. Most members of the cast are staying in hotels right in Durham, and they have been eating at local restaurants. Many are pleasantly surprised by Durham's food scene, and shout-outs have gone to The Piedmont, Nana's, Watts Grocery and Magnolia Grill.

"I feel like Durham is its own character," Tamblyn said. "It's got its own energy."

Firth said Durham's real-life vitality countered a cental theme of the script.

"It surprised me how much this was not a dying town," he said.

When Foote visited Durham five years ago, he was inspired to set a screenplay here after driving down Main Street on a Saturday afternoon and finding his vehicle to be the only car on the road.

The result was "Main Street," the story about a small Southern town that has seen better days
specifically, tobacco days. When a stranger, played by Firth, arrives with a controversial plan and offers to better the town in exchange for the use of the abandoned tobacco warehouses as storage for hazardous waste, tough decisions must be made in the midst of changing times.

Foote, who died last month at 92 after writing some of America's finest plays and movie scripts, including Academy Award winners "To Kill A Mockingbird" and "Tender Mercies," was known for writing about ordinary people, small towns and the human condition. Downtown Durham's restoration, prevalent today, was just taking flight five years ago, though the current economic recession gives the script a timelier feel.

Discovering Durham

Firth, after looking up images of Durham on Google Maps, was not particularly excited about Durham as a destination but was happily surprised upon his arrival.

"You go a mile in every direction and it's green paradise," he said. He's taken his family to the Nasher Museum, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens and Eno River State Park. "I feel strongly about how gorgeous it is here."

It was not a difficult decision to film in Durham, said Jonah Hirsch, one of the film's producers. He toured the city with Foote five years ago.

So far, Hirsch said, Durham has been a dream. There's never traffic, there are endless locations to choose from, and the cast and crew have been able to maintain privacy.

"We're getting good cooperation from the city," Hirsch said. "People are friendly."

And so are the actors. High schoolers Sarah Catherine Carter, 15, and Grace Rakauskas, 16, spent much of their spring break hanging around the public shoots and were tickled when Firth paid them a visit, even signing an autograph.

"It's so weird because it's in Durham," Grace said.

Locals will also enjoy looking for family and friends who may have been filmed during the outdoor shooting downtown. Extras were brought in from all over the state.

Other characters include Georgiana Carr, an aging tobacco heiress, played by Ellen Burstyn, who won an Academy Award for Best Actress in "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," and her niece, played by actress Patricia Clarkson.

Actor Orlando Bloom plays a Durham cop, and actor Andrew McCarthy has a supporting role.

"Main Street" is the latest of at least 20 films to be set in Durham, said Shelly Green, chief operating officer, president and CEO-elect of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau. The filming of "Bull Durham" in 1987 boosted the careers of Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon.

"We can look urban, we can look small town," Green said. "In the end of the day it's a movie, it's fiction, and I don't think it portrays Durham in an unfavorable light."

'Main Street' closings to take a week's hiatus
(The Herald -Sun, Apr 25, 2009, by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan)

Several Durham landmarks were used as filming continued this week for "Main Street" starring Orlando Bloom, Colin Firth and Ellen Burstyn. With filming mostly downtown, a few streets were temporarily closed. No streets will be closed next week.

Burstyn filmed her final scenes for the movie set in Durham on Monday and has left the city. Actress Amber Tamblyn arrived for her first day of filming on Monday.

Multiple scenes were filmed outside downtown, including one with Tamblyn and Bloom in a store-front restaurant on Orange Street as Firth and Patricia Clarkson were filmed in conversation walking by outside. It wasn't a real restaurant, just an empty building set up as one for the scene.

But a real Durham landmark restaurant was the site of filming this week
the Magnolia Grill restaurant on Ninth Street, owned by award-winning chefs Karen and Ben Barker.

The scene doesn't mention the restaurant's name. It features Tamblyn's character having dinner with her boss, played by Andrew McCarthy. McCarthy, who has a small role, came in for just one day of filming. He was recently seen as Joe Bennett in this past season's television show "Lipstick Jungle," recently canceled.

McCarthy became a household name after the 1980s film "Pretty in Pink." Tamblyn is a familiar face from "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" movies and her 2003 to 2005 television show "Joan of Arcadia." She is now in the cast of new television show "The Unusuals." Her character in "Main Street" is Mary Saunders.

Also this week, "Main Street" filmed a boardroom scene in Trinity Avenue United Methodist Church. Movie publicist David Linck said audiences won't be able to tell it is the church
an interior room was used.

Next week more interior scenes will be filmed at an undisclosed location. It will be stage work, so no local house will be used. On the first day of filming, April 3, a white columned house on Dillard Street was used. Durham City Hall was also a planned shooting location.

Durham's Main Library will be closed Friday for filming. All other library locations will be open for normal hours. The Main Library will reopen with regular hours on Saturday, May 2.

Monday's filming included an outdoor scene a block from Orange Street, in a grassy area at the corner of Parrish, Corcoran and Main streets. Firth and Clarkson were filmed walking outside, with the former Hotel Ferrell
now Self Help City Viewas a backdrop.

The production crew and cast are off from filming this weekend but will resume Monday. The last day of filming is expected to be May 9. "Main Street," which has five producers, is an independent film that will be shopped around for a distributor. It is set in Durham but will not represent Durham in a documentary style, Linck said. It is the story of a struggling Southern city changed by the arrival of Firth's character, who rents an old tobacco warehouse from one Georgiana Carr, played by Burstyn. Bloom plays a Durham police officer, and Clarkson plays Carr's niece.

Directors, actors stay true to Foote's script
(AP, Apr 24, 2009, by Martha Waggoner)

John Doyle frets about plenty of things while directing his first movie. Bringing Horton Foote's final screenplay to life is not one of them.

"He tells you in the writing what he's trying to say so I don't feel intimidated by the lack of his presence," Doyle said in an interview on the first day of filming. "And oddly, because it's all in the writing, he is very present with us. He's very much here."

Foote won two Academy Awards (for adapting 1962's "To Kill a Mockingbird" and writing 1983's "Tender Mercies") as well as the 1995 Pulitzer Prize (for his play "The Young Man From Atlanta"). He died in March at 92, leaving behind the screenplay for "Main Street," which is set and being filmed in Durham.

The tale of an economically depressed town looking to a stranger for relief, it stars Ellen Burstyn ("The Exorcist,""Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore") as Georgiana Carr, a tobacco heiress who finally rents a vacant warehouse on Main Street to Texas businessman Gus Leroy, played by Colin Firth ("Pride and Prejudice,""Bridget Jones' Diary"). Other stars include Patricia Clarkson, Orlando Bloom and Amber Tamblyn.

Doyle, who won a Tony for directing "Sweeney Todd" on Broadway, had been offered other films but they weren't quite right: unsuitable extravaganzas, he said, or "something I couldn't link my head to."

Finally, he chose Foote's "Main Street" for his movie-directing debut.

"Although it's a very finely crafted film script, there are proper scenes in it," Doyle said. "Often with movie scripts, there are four lines, and that's the scene. This has got speeches and dialogue and soliloquies, virtually. I'm comfortable with that because that's the world I come from."

He's also comfortable because of the cast, especially Burstyn, who appeared in two productions of Foote's "The Death of Papa" and one of "The Trip to Bountiful." This script, she said, is "very typically Horton."

"It's very subtle; it's not heavy on plot; it's character-driven," Burstyn said. "A lot happens, but it all kind of happens underneath the surface and there is an air of transcendence about it."

Firth describes his character, who uses the warehouse to store canisters of hazardous waste, as intriguing, mysterious and complex.

"His motives are not spelled out for you," Firth said. "And I'm always reassured by that in writing. I don't like seeing messages, not clear ones. I think there's something very truthful and ambiguous and there's something that resonates to me about it."

The actors and directors have changed next to nothing from Foote's script, Clarkson said.

"We honor him to the nth degree," said Clarkson, who plays Georgiana's niece, Willa. "There were one or two minor instances where we had to throw in a little something, but we have honored him and the beautiful characters he's drawn and his intentions ... his great sense of humor and his pathos."

The script's creation began about five years ago, when Durham native Thom Mount (the "Bull Durham" producer who's no longer involved in the project) and current producer Jonah Hirsch drove Foote around Durham, trying to persuade him to write a movie set in town. Although today's recession was years away, the local issue of losing tobacco as an economic force was topical.

Foote's daughter, Hallie Foote, said in a telephone interview that her father spent about a week in Durham, talking to residents and getting a feel for the town.

He had experienced a similar loss in his smaller hometown in Texas, she said. "In Wharton, things that were important at one time lose their importance," she said. "And what do you replace that with?"

Time to roll 'em on Durham's 'Main Street'
(The Herald-Sun, Apr 21, 2009, by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan)

Hollywood took over parts of downtown Durham Monday as filming continued on "Main Street," starring Orlando Bloom, Colin Firth, Ellen Burstyn, Patricia Clarkson and Amber Tamblyn. Monday was the only outdoor filming day planned for the movie that is set in Durham and being filmed here through mid-May....

Monday morning, actors Firth and Clarkson were filmed taking a walk in the grassy area at the corner of the block between West Main Street and Parrish Street. The green painted brick side of a building and the former Hotel Ferrell at 123 W. Main St. were the backdrop for the scene. Firth wore jeans and a blazer, with Clarkson in a light blue dress, cream cardigan and cream wedge heels. She used an umbrella to block the sun between takes.

The production company is called Main Street Film Company, which is independent of a Hollywood studio. Producers are Jonah Hirsch, Megan Ellison and Spencer Silna, with executive producers Doug Saylor Jr., Ted Schipper and Shankar (who goes by one name). Silna, Saylor and Shankar—all 24 years old—formed 1984 Films after meeting as students at Northwestern University. This is their first production.

Silna said they were attracted to the script because it is "such a timely and poignant piece." Saylor said it is timely because it centers around people in Durham adversely affected by the economy.

Silna's role as producer means that he is involved in every aspect of production
choosing the script, director and cast as well as being in charge of financing and overseeing the shoot itself. With a budget under $10 million, he said the material drew the actors. The script is the last from Horton Foote, who died last month. John Doyle directs.

Burstyn, an Academy Award winner as Best Actress for the film "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," was the first actor attached to it, Silna said. "She's a real legend of the film world. She brings a real depth to her character and the film itself," he said.

Funding came from private equity. "Fortunately we don't have to rely on a studio," Shankar said.

Fan Zack Beck, 20, of Charlotte, stood across the street from filming, hoping to get celebrity autographs. He carried large photographs of the stars and a silver pen. Earlier that day, Firth signed a photo for Beck after the fan caught the actor's eye and held up a pen while Firth was getting a drink during a break.

"He said come on over, how are you doing, what's your name," Beck said. "He was a really nice guy." Beck stuck around for the next scene's filming, too, hoping to get Bloom's autograph....

In the afternoon, Firth and Clarkson were filmed walking up Orange Street under white Dogwood trees. An empty storefront was recreated as a restaurant, with Bloom and Tamblyn sitting in the front window. The scene features Firth and Clarkson walking by the restaurant with Bloom and Tamblyn in the background....

It took a few hours to film the scene with Firth and Clarkson walking up Orange Street. Before each filming segment, production shouted out phrases that you'd expect:

"Quiet please, stand by."

"All right, here we go."

"Rolling!" Echoed twice more by different voices.


"Main Street" doesn't have a distributor yet. Unit publicist David Linck said it will be taken to the Cannes Film Festival in search of a buyer. Monday was the only scheduled day of filming outside in downtown Durham. It was also the last day on set for Clarkson and Burstyn. Burstyn was to film a scene later Monday of her driving. It was the first day of filming for Tamblyn. Actor Andrew McCarthy will soon arrive to begin filming his part.

Silna said they haven't had much free time, but have enjoyed what they have in Durham. He said the city has been very accommodating to them. Linck said the cast and crew party was held on Saturday at James Joyce pub and that the Firth family attended a Durham Bulls game.

Filming continues the rest of the week, with intermittent street closings downtown.
-scanned image by Patty of ka-Bloom
Hollywood filming will affect traffic locally
(Herald Sun, Apr 18, 2009, by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan)

"Main Street" the movie continues filming in downtown Durham this weekend and through mid-May. Based on the last screenplay by the late Horton Foote, the film stars Orlando Bloom as a Durham city policeman, who, along with four other characters, have their lives changed by the arrival of a stranger played by Colin Firth. Other stars include Ellen Burstyn, Andrew McCarthy, Amber Tamblyn and Patricia Clarkson.

Directed by John Doyle and produced by Reliant Pictures, "Main Street" has already led to some street closings downtown on Dillard, Duke and West Corporation streets. Some scenes are being filmed in old houses and a tobacco warehouse. The plot includes a tobacco heiress who rents a warehouse to the stranger, Firth, whose character is named Gus Leroy. Burstyn plays Georgiana Carr, who, judging by the last name, is presumably the tobacco heiress. Bloom's cop character is named Harris Parker. Clarkson plays Willa. Newcomer Nadya Simpson plays Kate.

No streets will be closed in the coming week, but traffic will be stopped intermittently for filming of short scenes. Much of Monday's filming will be outside featuring characters out and about in Durham. Unit publicist David Linck said the film's budget is under $10 million. He said the low budget means some actors may have cut a deal
accepting lower payto be part of the production.

Next week the final scenes for two unnamed actors will be filmed and they will leave the set for good, while some new cast members will arrive. With a limited shooting schedule, they don't have the luxury of time, Linck said. The entire film is being shot in Durham over five weeks.

"Main Street" is an episodic movie of several stories being told that are linked by different characters. Linck describes the film as a "gentle, intelligent, languid story. It's a thoughtful, lyrical film. Almost like a poem in some ways."

After short scenes are filmed early next week, production moves on to a bigger scene set in city council chambers. Not actual Durham City Council chambers, though. No government buildings are being used for filming.

Shelly Green of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau said that filming is arranged with individual building owners. Six or seven city police officers accompany downtown filming to deal with traffic control.

About 100 local residents have been cast as extras by Maxann Crotts-Harvey. She said she still needs more extras, especially Latino men of U.S. citizenship. She is also looking for "great character faces" of white and African American men and women. That means you don't have to be beautiful or a model, she said. No experience is necessary. Pay is $55 per eight-hour or less day, plus minimum wage of $6.55 for every hour more than eight hours.

To be considered as an extra, e-mail a photograph and contact information to maxann@.... Crotts-Harvey said she will continue casting extras through the first week of May. In late April or early May, a wreck scene will be filmed on a closed section of a local interstate. She said filming location plans change on a daily basis.

Shooting begins on film 'Main Street'
(The Herald-Sun, Apr 7, 2009, by Cliff Bellamy)

Filming for "Main Street," a contemporary drama about a Southern town, began Monday, and local residents who passed by the shooting site on North Dillard Street agreed that the movie would help the city's economy and image.

"I just think the whole thing is going to turn out very nice," said Shai'terriah Steadman. Steadman, who said she has lived in Durham about six years, was on her way to the Main Library, a block away from the film site, to log on to a Web site to apply as a possible extra in the movie. She has previously been an extra in movies and plays, she said.

Others who walked by the site echoed her sentiments about "Main Street."

"I think it's great that we've got something like this going on ... something that's uplifting [that will] make people want to come and be a part of Durham," said Larry Ward. "The more entertainment we can get here, the better it will make Durham," he said.

"Economically, that film should bring other people here," said Carolyn Rogers. "You'd be surprised how far and wide this will be seen."

Monday's shooting was mostly interior, and drew only a few onlookers. One bystander, a young woman, did point out actor Colin Firth during filming off an outside scene. Rogers added that Firth "looked like an old Southern gentleman" in his costume and makeup.

"Main Street" is the final screenplay from the late Horton Foote, whose other films include "Tender Mercies" and "A Trip to Bountiful." The film is "a contemporary drama focusing on the lives of five residents of a small Southern city," according to an e-mail from the production company press liaison.

It is the story of "a down-and-out American city changed by the arrival of a stranger who has a mysterious plan to save their Main Street. In the midst of today's challenging times, each of the colorful citizens of this close-knit Southern community
from the mayor to a local police officer to the once-wealthy tobacco heiress who rents the stranger her warehousewill search for ways to reinvent themselves, their relationships and the very heart of their neighborhood."

John Doyle is directing the film. Besides Firth, other actors in the film are Orlando Bloom, Andrew McCarthy, Ellen Burstyn, Patricia Clarkson, Amber Tamblyn and Nadya Simpson.

The block of Dillard Street between Liberty and Holloway Street was closed to traffic during the filming. Trucks with equipment lined nearby Liberty Street. Passers-by could see cameras and lights at the house at 206 N. Dillard St. The historic house, built in 1908-09, is the C.C. Thomas House and is in the Colonial Revival style, according to Preservation Durham.

"Main Street" will make use of various sites in and around downtown Durham, and is expected to film through the middle of May.

Amber Tamblyn moving to "Main Street"
(The Hollywood Reporter, Mar 26, 2009, by Steven Zeitchik)

Amber Tamblyn is in final negotiations to star in "Main Street," a Southern drama set to start shooting next month.

Tamblyn will play the lead character in the picture, which marks one of the last known completed works by screenwriter and playwright Horton Foote before he died earlier this month.

The story follows residents of a close-knit Southern town who see their lives disrupted when a stranger comes to town. The news follows word of Orlando Bloom entering negotiations to star as a small-town policeman and Andrew McCarthy being cast as a business manager.

Orlando Bloom heads for "Main Street"
(The Hollywood Reporter, Mar 26, 2009, by Steven Zeitchik)

One of writer Horton Foote's last works is moving closer to production. Producers of "Main Street," the late playwright's final screenplay, are in negotiations to cast Orlando Bloom and have signed Andrew McCarthy. The pair join an ensemble that includes Ellen Burstyn, Patricia Clarkson and Colin Firth. The central character, a young girl, has yet to be cast.

Foote's drama concerns a group of people in a small town in North Carolina whose lives are shaken when a stranger arrives. Bloom will play a small-town policeman, and McCarthy will play a lothario business manager.

The project, which Reliant Pictures is producing, is set to start shooting in Durham. N.C., in April. Tony Award winner John Doyle is directing the picture.

Foote, who died this month, was best known as a playwright but also wrote screenplays, with such movies as "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Tender Mercies" among his credits.

John Doyle set for 'Main Street'
Director signs on to Horton Foote's drama
(Variety, Jan 27, 2009, by Dave McNary)

British theater director John Doyle has signed to helm Horton Foote's ensemble drama "Main Street" for Reliant Pictures. Lensing is set to launch March 16 in Durham, N.C.

Spencer Silna of 1984 Films is producing with Jonah Hirsch of Fixed Point Films. Silna's partners, Doug Saylor and Adi Shankar, will exec produce.

Doyle won a Tony Award in 2006 for "Sweeney Todd" and was nominated for a Drama Desk and a Tony for staging "Company." He most recently directed "Road Show" for Gotham's the Public Theater. Foote, 93, created "Main Street" after visiting Durham two years ago. Story centers on a diverse group of residents of a small, economically moribund American city facing the consequences of change. Foote won Oscars for penning "Tender Mercies" and adapting "To Kill a Mockingbird."

On Location
(updated 5/03/09)

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