Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley charmed hundreds of fans in Westminster again yesterday as Main Street shut down while filming continued on their movie "For Richer or Poorer."
Universal Studios Inc. and location manager George W. Spicer drew equal enthusiasm from city officials.
Spicer's son, Bryan, is directing the film -- a comedy about New Yorkers who find new values among the Amish while on the run. Westminster is standing in for Lancaster County.
"The movie people have been absolutely wonderful to work with," said Police Chief Sam R. Leppo, whose department provided five officers at studio expense and handled the closing of East Main Street from Railroad to Longwell avenues.
"With George, there have been no surprises: It's been a good experience," he added.
Allen and Alley, successful movie and television actors, won new fans by hamming it up during breaks, signing autographs and posing for pictures.
Leppo estimated the crowds at "300 to 400 at any given time, with people coming and going a total of 1,500 to 1,800 people."
"I've never seen them so excited," said Barbara J. Beverungen, Carroll County's tourism administrator, of the local people she's talked to.
"It sounds so hokey, but it's like civic pride: People are talking to me, and their faces are so bright. Their faces actually light up to have these movie stars here in Carroll County." The stars weren't visible during several hours of indoor filming yesterday morning. Crowds on the sidewalk hushed whenever the crew yelled "Rolling!" and kept telling each other that the shadow inside was Allen.
Then Allen came out on a break to say hello and sign some autographs.
"The whole crowd just came alive," Beverungen said. "It was just for maybe two minutes, but it seemed so nice. They had been waiting maybe two hours."
Some residents said they came and went several times, hoping for a glimpse of the stars.
"People are just so appreciative," said Westminster Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan. "The money they make is due to fans -- well, obviously they have talent -- and the public sees that they're appreciative.
"They're thrilled to see these people they've seen on television for years."
"I've never seen this level of excitement," said Thomas B. Beyard, the city's director of planning and public works. "You have our Main Street in a major motion picture." "There are 150,000 towns in Maryland, a gazillion across the country -- and ++ they wound up picking Westminster," he said.
Calls to City Hall have included an 80-year-old pianist, a woman who wanted her dog in the film (and wondered whether it had to belong to the Screen Actors Guild) and a man from Arlington, Va., who was taking his daughter out of school to come to Westminster for the day.
Coverage by television crews from Baltimore and Washington on Monday brought more people to Westminster yesterday.
"That's not something you can readily calculate," Yowan said. "The publicity we're getting, I couldn't pay you a million dollars to get."
Many people came from outside Carroll County, said Beverungen, mentioning two women from Ellicott City who pulled up in a convertible, "looking for Tim Allen."
Beyard found himself among the onlookers, complete with camera, and said he was surprised at his reaction.
"Now I have some experience, but you underestimate the impact that it has. It is very exciting," he said.
On a less emotional level, Beyard cited recent figures that showed a film being made in a small Indiana town putting $100,000 a day into the local economy.
In Westminster, "For Richer or Poorer" has meant flowers, wood and carpentry supplies, and innumerable other items -- "all bought locally."
Alley browsed and shopped in several Main Street shops -- and even had a hot dog and fries at Harry's Main Street.
Owner Harry Sirinakis said he's used to football players, television news people and politicians, "but we don't really have celebrities of her caliber in our midst -- not movie stars."
"I've even got a photo to prove it. She came down just before lunch from the set in her Amish outfit. Pretty hard to miss: We don't have too many Amish people either," he said.
"She is a very nice lady. I guess you could say we kind of doted on her."
"Kirstie Alley just epitomizes what happens," said Beyard. "People come to town and they browse around -- and we hope that all the other 2,000 people here will browse around, too."
Judie Nave of Forget Me Not Ltd., in the first block of E. Main St., said Alley came in her shop Monday, and "she did bring with her some people."
"The cast and crew, wardrobe and makeup, when they got a break they would come in," Nave said, but was reluctant to discuss Alley's visit out of respect for the actress' privacy.
Similarly, the Main Street Bake Shop confirmed that it had baked a cake for Alley, but a woman there said: "I'd prefer not to comment."
Tony D'Eugenio's Giulianova Groceria was renamed "The Tulip Basket" for the movie, and he said it brought a lot of silly jokes.
It also brought him "a lot of business," he said, after Spicer and the movie crews discovered his meatball subs. A noontime rain yesterday also brought a rush of onlookers into nearby Joe's Deli, which nearly sold out of food.
The block of East Main Street was closed again yesterday at the urging of police officers, Leppo said. Because the film crew was working indoors, they had started with intermittent road closings.
"But people were going back and forth so much across the street that the officers called me and wanted to just shut it again for safety," he said.
They feared "people would be looking at the actor or actress -- and the next thing you know, you'd have a pedestrian hit. Things were going so well, we didn't want that."
"This has been a pleasure," Chief Leppo said. "It really has been."
Pub Date: 5/07/97