Courthouse workers have star-struck day

June 04, 1993|By Staff Report

Baltimore County's courthouse workers got a jolt of Hollywood lightning yesterday.

The courthouse was invaded by "Serial Mom" stars Kathleen Turner and Sam Waterston and a supporting cast including Ricki Lake, Suzanne Somers and newspaper heiress Patricia C. Hearst.

And then, to top that off, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor stopped by for lunch with Ms. Turner, and to have her picture taken with the movie crew on the old courthouse steps.

Today, the movie crew promised more magic -- by changing June into October. The original plans called for spraying the trees outside the Chesapeake Avenue entrance with a water-based paint to give them autumn colors, but that was abandoned in favor of prop leaves. The filming is to continue in and around the building through June 12.

County Council staffers and passers-by gawked and occasionally stumbled through a movie shot yesterday as the hallway outside the council's conference room was overrun with cameras, lights and harried movie production workers with walkie-talkies.

Even the official county portrait of former County Executive Spiro T. Agnew (later vice president) was drafted for use as a prop.

The film is a dark comedy, in which Ms. Turner plays a typical suburban Towson mother -- who happens to kill people who insult her or her family.

The movie crew, led by director John Waters, a Lutherville native, filled Pennsylvania Avenue with truckloads of equipment, stringing heavy wires through the stairwells and hallways.

In fact, the public entrance to the county's Office of Law was hidden behind a screen painted to look like shiny marble for a scene involving a phone booth.

All morning, Ms. Turner, Mr. Waterston and Ms. Somers (who was wearing a mink stole) traipsed back and forth in the hallway, pretending they had just left a courtroom to face a crowd of well-wishers outside.

Peter Haas, publicist for the movie, refused to reveal Ms. Somers' or Ms. Hearst's parts, saying only that "they have minor roles."

The trial scenes will be filmed in the county's ceremonial courtroom in the oldest part of the building.

The movie company is repainting the courtroom beige for its production and will repaint it and clean or replace the carpeting when it's finished.

The county is collecting a $500-a-day fee for use of its facilities, and is being reimbursed for all extra police services, said Donna M. Morrison, the county's movie liaison.

"They've been wonderfully cooperative," she said of Mr. Waters' company.

And in case county residents were worrying, the administration of County Executive Roger B. Hayden distributed a memo to affected employees describing the activity and saying, "We have had the opportunity to review the entire script to ensure that Baltimore County and its employees are depicted in a positive manner."

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