Stepford stars in area to film movie remake
Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler perform in Bedminster, sleep at Bernards hotel
The Bernardsville News
By SANDY STUART , Staff Writer 07/10/2003
BEDMINSTER TWP. – A picture-perfect barn complex and sunny skies greeted Nicole Kidman and a host of Hollywood actors this week, during the filming of a scene from the new “Stepford Wives” movie.
Kidman, Bette Midler, Matthew Broderick, Glenn Close and Jon Lovitz were among the stars who joined some 200 extras – including many local residents – on a Larger Cross Road estate.
The filming of the scene, which depicts a Fourth of July fair in the fictitious upper-class town of Stepford, began Monday morning amid heavy security provided by the local police department.
Filming continued throughout the day Tuesday and was scheduled to wrap up yesterday afternoon, Wednesday, assuming cooperative weather.
Many of the cast and crew members – including Kidman, Midler and director Frank Oz – stayed in luxurious rooms at the Olde Mill Inn in Bernards Township during the filming, according to sources. They were said to have checked out by Wednesday.
In the remake of the 1975 classic thriller, Kidman plays the role of Joanna Eberhart, who has just moved from Manhattan with her husband (Broderick) and children.
According to publicist Marsha Robertson, the scene in Bedminster shows the Eberhart family meeting the townspeople of Stepford for the first time at a July 4 celebration.
Among those they encounter are Bobbie Markowe (Midler) and her husband (Lovitz), who are also newcomers to Stepford; as well as the town matriarch, played by Close.
Other cast members include Faith Hill, Christopher Walken and Bernardsville native Roger Bart, an original cast member of the Broadway hit, “The Producers.” Hill and Walken did not appear in the Bedminster scene.
According to Robertson, the Bedminster scene shows “the perfect Fourth of July party. If Norman Rockwell had painted the party, this is what it would look like.”
The outdoor scene centers around a big red horse barn with crisp white trim next to a riding ring. Children trot ponies around the ring, while townspeople mingle at the lemonade stand, bake sale and ring toss booth set up outside the barn.
Robertson said the barn and the fence around the riding ring are draped in red, white and blue bunting, American flags wave everywhere, and the set is festooned with red, white and blue balloons.
Robertson said the 200 extras include about 30 local adults and about 40 local children between the ages of 5 and 12.
She said the extras were chosen at a June 26 casting call at the Gill St. Bernard’s School in Gladstone. About 300 people applied as extras, Robertson said.
Because Stepford is a town in which the wives have been surreptitiously replaced by beautiful robots, the extras include about 100 tall, slim, attractive women.
“There are a lot of gorgeous women here – the extras who are playing Stepford Wives,” said Robertson.
The filming of the July 4 scene officially began at around 8 a.m., but Robertson said both the stars and extras had to be on the location by 6:30 for makeup and costumes.
“There’s a lot of hair and makeup in the morning, because they have to look perfect,” she said.
“The clothes, put together by our costume designer, Ann Roth, are fabulous,” Robertson added. She described the women’s dresses as “the 1950s meets the glamour of Hollywood.”
Robertson said the little girls in the scene wear pretty sundresses and the boys wear shorts, polo shirts and tennis sneakers. “They’re very neat, as Stepford children would be,” she observed.
Even the cars used in the filming are Stepfordish – which is to say, they are exactly what one would see in the Somerset Hills.
Robertson said about 20 vehicles used in the scene are owned by local residents, “so they can drive up in their big SUVs and sports cars.”
Not just anyone could drive up in their SUV or sports car, however.
Because it was a “closed set,” considerable effort was made to keep fans and curiosity seekers away from the filming.
Discreet “SW” signs with arrows were posted along Route 202-206 and Lamington Road to direct cast and crew members to the site.
But nobody else could get too close.
A police car was parked at the intersection of Lamington and Larger Cross roads to keep an eye on motorists, and off-duty police officers were hired for on-site security and traffic control duty.
Signs forbidding motorists from parking or even stopping were posted along Larger Cross Road. However, there wasn’t much to see from the road, as most of the barn complex is obscured by a thick stand of trees and brush.
A request by this newspaper to visit the set was denied.
During the filming, much of the cast and crew reportedly stayed at the Olde Mill Inn off Route 202 in Bernards Township, about a 15-minute drive from the set.
However, a representative from the inn declined comment on the celebrity visits.