BootLeg Betty

The Church Gets Ready For “The Stepford Wives”

The Hartford Courant
July 10, 2003

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Keep an eye out for a certain statuesque, strawberry blonde Academy Award-winning actress this summer near the First Congregational Church on the Madison Green.

The church is considering a request from the company filming a remake of “The Stepford Wives” to shoot scenes on the Green, which is owned by the church.

Australian superstar actress Nicole Kidman is playing the lead, and a host of famous names are in the cast, including Bette Midler, Christopher Walken and Glenn Close.

Whether any of those stars will be spending time in Madison remains to be seen.

It is rumored that scenes to be shot on the Green, if the church and production company reach agreement, will involve some of the starring actors, but that could not be verified.

The church council confirmed Wednesday that it had been approached, but no decision has been made as to whether to grant permission for filming on the Green.

“We are not opposed to the concept,” according to a brief statement from the council. “It is currently being discussed.”

Paramount Pictures will be the distributor of the remake of the 1975 sci-fi thriller. The original was filmed in Darien, Norwalk and Weston and took place in the fictional Fairfield County town of Stepford, where all the women are mindless housewives with a mysterious devotion to their husbands. A horrifying secret is revealed in the film’s twist ending.

The picturesque, genteel Madison Green would fit in with the film’s suburban setting.

This time around, “The Stepford Wives” will be a black comedy featuring Kidman in Katharine Ross’ leading role. Matthew Broderick is in talks to play Kidman’s husband in the film.

The remake is scheduled to be released in 2004.

Word got out locally when the film production company contacted Town Hall July 3. Town officials referred the inquiries to church officials.

Guy Ortoleva, executive director of the Connecticut Film Office, said Wednesday that the movie’s location manager would not be happy to learn that word had leaked out about possible filming in Madison, but he did confirm that it is one of the locations being considered. Others include New Canaan and Norwalk.

He said that he believes the filming will be done sometime this summer, but cautioned that moviemakers “change their mind a lot.” The film office assists those wishing to shoot movies, videos and commercials on location in Connecticut as well as those communities and private property owners who make their venues available, Ortoleva said.

“Production companies do pay location fees,” he said. “This office is available to help prepare communities for the impact of location filming and assure that all goes smoothly. The plans are worked out well in advance.”

Location filming also tends to have a positive impact on area businesses, he said, noting that film cast and crews need accommodations, food, transportation and other amenities.

An independent film, “Whirlygirl,” shot mainly in New Haven earlier this year, pumped $500,000 into local businesses.

Long after the financial windfall of location shooting in a community is forgotten, residents tend to take a proprietary interest in the film.

In Chester, where Doris Day came to film “It Happened to Jane,” in the late 1950s, the town’s Historical Society still offers a showing of it in the Meetinghouse occasionally as a fund-raiser, selling popcorn at ’50s prices.

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