Shore town awaits its movie sequel

Extras: A second Hollywood production to be shot in Berlin attracts more than 5,200 people eager for a moment on the silver screen.

March 18, 2001|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,SUN STAFF

BERLIN - The thousands of people who gave up their Saturday to stand in line outside the Worcester County Job Service building came for minimum-wage work.

Put out an open casting call for extras in a Hollywood movie, and no one will complain about the wait or the lousy pay.

"It's a chance that most people never get," said Vickie Radford of nearby Whaleyville, who brought her 10-year-old niece.

But residents in this Eastern Shore town a few miles from Ocean City know the drill - arrive early, stand for a brief interview, hope to get called - because this is the second time in 2 1/2 years that moviemakers have descended on the quaint community.

"Runaway Bride," with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, was filmed in Berlin in 1998. Now, Disney plans two days of shooting in town - with at least 100 extras - for "Tuck Everlasting," based on a children's book about a family that stumbles upon eternal life.

"There must be something about Berlin that attracts Hollywood," said Carlyn Davis, president of the Falls Church, Va., casting company that bears her name.

Residents assume the draw is Berlin's small-town, tucked-away feeling. Houses have shutters and porches. Main Street is flanked by old-fashioned lampposts. Stevenson United Methodist Church, across from the Worcester County Job Service, is solid stone.

It's not a bad choice for a move set in 1914.

Disney wants extras who will look the part, too: women with long hair, men with beards and mustaches, people who can ride horseback.

Shooting in town is scheduled for April 19 and 20, but Dennis Bryant Sr., a retired plumber from nearby Willards, was ready for the cameras yesterday - decked out in a straw hat, overalls and a gold pocket watch.

"I'm a big show-off," he said, laughing.

His two-hour wait in line was almost over at 11 a.m. By then, 2,000 people had turned in applications and photographs to Carlyn Davis Casting staff. By afternoon's end, more than 5,200 people had shown up.

Some would-be extras arrived at 3:30 a.m. yesterday. By 8:30 a.m., when the doors opened, cars had squeezed into every spot on Main Street.

"We've got books, we've got Game Boy, we've got umbrellas, we've got food," said Gail Blazer of Ocean Pines, who pushed her three children through the long line in lawn chairs. "We thought we were getting here early, but obviously we weren't."

Vernon Strobel, 79, who came with his granddaughters, Kim and Krystyna Strobel of Ocean Pines, looked at the mass of humanity around him and laughed.

"It's a long road to stardom," he said.

It's a hard road, too.

A nonunion extra earns $5.75 an hour, Davis said. One day of shooting can drag from the crack of dawn to pitch-black night. After all that, you could end up on the cutting room floor.

That's if - if - you get called in the first place, and given the number of people who showed up yesterday, the odds are about 50 to 1 against it.

Why stand in line for a job like this?

Pfc. Lisa Maurer, a member of the Berlin police force, understands. She could see the desire of split-second stardom in people's eyes as she kept her eye on the proceedings yesterday.

"They want to be in the movies," she said. "They want to say, `That's me.'"

Ocean Pines resident Tina Justice, a shipping clerk who used to live in Berlin, knew she would try out as soon as she heard that "Tuck Everlasting" would shoot in to town.

She waited in line for "Runaway Bride," too. She was called. She stood in the background, holding a grocery bag and talking to a stranger, while the stars argued in front of a restaurant.

That's her on screen, Tina Justice, shipping clerk - the extra in the burgundy sweater.

This time, she brought her daughters. "I couldn't make it to Hollywood, so I guess Hollywood's coming to us," she said.

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