Movie shoot moves to New Milford

Saturday, May 10, 2008

NEW MILFORD — At least for one day, Jillian Alps felt like a star.

The general manager of the Heritage Inn on Bridge Street played hostess to film stars Keanu Reeves, Alan Arkin, Winona Ryder and Robin Wright Penn on Monday when scenes from the movie “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee” were filmed in town.

The film crew rented four of the property’s 20 guest rooms for the day so the actors and actresses could relax between takes. All gave autographs and were gracious with the staff, said Alps, who couldn’t pass up getting her picture taken with Reeves.

“He was more than happy to sit down with us,” she said, describing him as “easy going,” “low key” and a “nice guy.” “As soon as they walked in the door they shook hands. We had breakfast waiting.”

It was the second time the bed and breakfast, a former tobacco warehouse and feed and grain store listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has hosted a movie crew. Last year producers and actors with “The Six Wives of Henry Lefay” stayed at the property during shooting in town.

“I believe it is great exposure for the town of New Milford since we are sometimes thought of as the gateway to the Litchfield Hills area,” Alps said.

The movie, directed by Rebecca Miller, daughter of the late playwright Arthur Miller of Roxbury, is being shot in several locations in western Connecticut, including Heritage Village in Southbury and Danbury, where the crew is using a former school as its production headquarters and for storage.

The crew was going to shoot an office scene at the Heritage Inn, but decided to film in a more traditional office building, Alps said.

That didn’t disappoint anyone at the bed and breakfast, she said. Arkin bought a cake to celebrate the birthday of Lola Belsito, the film’s production supervisor, and employees were invited to join in the celebration.

Alps said Reeves, Ryder and Penn signed autographs and handed out photographs.

Scenes for the movie are scheduled to be shot in the next couple of weeks in and around a condominium in the vicinity of Grove Pond Lane off Krueger Circle in Heritage Village. The film is partially set in a retirement community much like the village, and tells the story of a woman who carves out a new identity after her husband leaves her.