Archive for the ‘Brushes with fame’ Category

Southport: A ‘Safe Haven’ for ‘Under the Dome’

May 12, 2013

One of the loveliest waterfront towns on the entire East Coast is Southport, North  Carolina. It’s also a popular place for shooting films. One, “Safe Haven,” just came out on DVD. Another, the TV series “Under the Dome,” debuts this summer. Here’s a story I wrote about Southport, which ran May 12 in “The Boston Globe.” 

By Diane Daniel

The Southport Yacht Basin, where the Cape Fear River meets the Atlantic Ocean, is home to several seafood restaurants

The Southport Yacht Basin is home to several seafood restaurants

With maps in hand, Nina Walsh and Mary Koehler gazed up at Moore Street Market, a popular cafe housed in a historic wood-frame building in picture-perfect Southport, N.C., on the mouth of the Cape Fear River.

“When we saw the movie, there it was, and I thought, hey, I ate lunch at that store!” Koehler said. The friends, both living in nearby Leland, with Walsh a recent transplant from Swampscott, Mass., had made a return trip to Southport after seeing the romantic thriller “Safe Haven,” based on the book of the same name by syrupy scribe Nicholas Sparks.

“They told us about this tour in the Visitor’s Center,” said Walsh, waving a “Safe Haven Filming Locations” pamphlet. “Everyone walking in the door was asking about the movie.”

The river pilots' tower has been redone to look like Station WYBS for the filming of "Under the Dome"

The river pilots’ tower is “Station WYBS” for the filming of “Under the Dome”

Because nearby Wilmington houses the largest film production facility east of Los Angeles, Hollywood is old hat in these parts. Southport’s credits include the 1986 film “Crimes of the Heart,” the TV series “Matlock,” and the just-out HBO movie “Mary and Martha.” The highest-profile show to be filmed here is still in production — the Stephen King science-fiction series “Under the Dome,” set to premiere on CBS June 24.

Waterfront Park, overlooking the Cape Fear River, is a popular spot for relaxing

Waterfront Park, overlooking the Cape Fear River, is a popular spot for relaxing

But “Safe Haven,” released May 7 on DVD, stands out as the one anointed for red-carpet treatment because the town itself plays a leading role. If you’ve seen the sentimental film, in which “Katie” (Julianne Hough) winds up on the Carolina coast after fleeing a dangerous Boston cop and then falls for local shop owner “Alex” (Josh Duhamel), you’ll likely agree that Southport steals the show. With a few exceptions, everything depicted in “Safe Haven” exists — a picturesque harbor, small retail shops dotting a lively downtown, streets lined with Victorian homes, stately oaks draped with Spanish moss, and bustling waterfront seafood restaurants. And, yes, the town of 2,900 residents really does host an exuberant July 4th parade — officially the North Carolina Fourth of July Festival — which attracts upwards of 50,000 visitors. Last year’s parade was even reenacted a month later for the filming, using townspeople as extras.



Getting fried with Soupy Sales

November 2, 2009
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Soupy Sales, his face about to be splattered with yet another pie

Way back in the olden days, from the 1950s to the ‘80s, Soupy Sales was a famous man: for his comedy, his rubbery face and his penchant for taking pies in said face. He had his own TV shows, a couple of them, played comedy clubs, and was a regular on game shows. He died Oct. 22, at age 83.

My friend Chuck Adams, executive editor of Algonquin Books, shares with us his wonderful Soupy Sales story, from when Chuck was a contestant on “The $10,000 Pyramid” in the late ‘70s, hosted by Dick Clark. Here’s his story:

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Chuck Adams, looking as glamorous as he did on television

“I was out of work and an actor friend had done the show ‘$10,000 Pyramid’ and recommended me, although he hadn’t won any money — just a consolation prize (yea! a year’s supply of Stouffer’s frozen meatloaf dinners!). They taped a week’s worth of shows in one (very long) day, and finally on ‘Friday’ they sent me up. The two celebrity guests were Lanie Kazan (a sweet, ditzy woman) and Soupy Sales (a smart, funny man), and I, luckily, got Soupy.

“We zoomed through the initial round and I got to the big board. Soupy was giving the clues; I was receiving. We had one minute to solve six word- association puzzles. Soupy’s hands were in straps so he would have to give his clues with words only (no charades). We whizzed through the first five in 30 seconds, but then we got to the last one.

“Soupy said, “Eggs, bacon, chicken…” and then he looked at me. I said, “Things you eat for breakfast?” Soupy shook his head and repeated, “Eggs, bacon, chicken…” And then he probably added something like “sausage…” I don’t remember what I said after that, or what he said after that, but I do know that with about three seconds left, my brain finally clicked in and I managed to make an association with all the things he’d be shouting at me: “Things that are fried?” I finally said, and then people were screaming and Soupy and I were jumping up and down and hugging each other, and Dick Clark was shaking my hand.

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Soupy Sales in 2008 (photo Wikipedia)

“It was a truly memorable moment. And so naturally that 15-minute segment of my long-ago life came to mind this past week when the funny, smart Soupy Sales died. I needed those $10,000 very badly in 1978, and he helped me survive the year. I will never forget him. He was a saint… or at worst a very clever performer.”

Thanks for that great TV tale, Chuck!

And a North Carolina note:  Soupy was born “Milton Supman,” to the only Jewish family in Franklinton, NC (about 30 miles east of us), which certainly could have triggered a need for comic relief.

A flight fit for a queen

July 1, 2008

Who says air travel has lost its elegance? On our 20-minute flight recently from Bodø on the mainland of northern Norway north to Svolvaer on the Lofoten archipelago, the flight attendants wore white gloves. Now isn’t that quaint, I thought.

Diane, a.k.a. Lady Di, in front of a 40-seater Widerøe airplaneWe were flying with Norwegian airline Widerøe, on a 10-row, 40-seater puddle-jumper. No one was allowed to sit in the front two rows. After everyone was on board, a group of official-looking men and women arrived. One man was wearing a secret-service type earpiece. I asked the Norwegian woman next to me who the VIPs were but she didn’t have a clue.

After the pilot made an announcement in Norwegian, she turned to me and said, “It’s Sonja, the Queen of Norway.” I thought she was pulling a naive tourist’s leg, but she assured me it was no joke. Earlier, I was told by many Norwegians that the royal family uses public transportation and likes to hobnob with the common folk.

The pilot then made an announcement in English about our late takeoff, starting with “Her majesty, ladies and gentlemen, we have a few minutes delay.” This cracked me up.

I was tempted to ask for an autograph, but not knowing how crass this would appear, I restrained myself. The passengers were acting nonchalant — until we landed. We weren’t allowed to disembark until Sonja was whisked away, so everyone watched, leaning over the aisles to peer through the little windows.

First, a guy on the ground walked up with a red carpet, which he unfurled onto the runway at the bottom of the airplane stairs. Unfortunately for him it was a very windy day and the carpet kept flapping up. Very embarrassing! Finally Sonja stepped onto it and walked a few feet next to a waiting car.

For you fashion mavens, she was wearing a proper-looking beige pantsuit with subdued scarf, overcoat and large sunglasses. Her entourage left in an Audi sedan led by police with a small motorcade following. According to our taxi driver, she was staying right there in town. “Everyone knows she is here,” he said. Apparently she visits Lofoten occasionally for hiking and the great outdoors.

In case you’re wondering, though King Harald V was not with Sonja, he did meet up with her a few days later for a tour in the far north, which was extensively covered on Norwegian television. The royals might mingle with the masses, but they also create quite a stir everywhere they go. Count me among the stirred.

By the way, on our royal-free flight back to Bodø the next week, nary a white glove was in sight.