Sparky’s Diner Hosts Filming for Brad Pitt’s “True Story”

A-list celeb Jonah Hill makes an appearance in Garnerville, chats with fans

BY MICHAEL RICONDA
Jonah Hill waves hello to Rockland - Photo by Sabrina Nicosia
Jonah Hill waves hello to Rockland – Photo by Sabrina Nicosia

It was Hollywood on the Hudson in Garnerville all day Monday, as a film crew worked from dawn till dusk at Sparky’s Diner on Route 202.

Inside, actor Jonah Hill shot scenes which will be used in the upcoming Brad Pitt-produced movie “True Story.” In the movie the scenes shot at Sparky’s will take place in Oregon.

The inside of the diner was restricted to cast and crew, but onlookers had the opportunity to watch the bustle on and near the restaurant. The filming limited not only movement inside the diner but also traffic in the area, which for much of the day could only move up and down Route 202 during pauses in filming.

The action began on Friday, when film crews set up around the diner and prepared for Monday’s shoot. Earlier in 2013, they had scouted the area and did pre-shoot preparations, though no equipment was set up and none of the stars were on the set until this Monday. A representative for the film explained Rockland was not randomly chosen as a site for filming, but has garnered attention from moviemakers over the years and has seen more than its share of Hollywood productions.

Film reps said Rocklanders should expect to see a growing volume of shoots in the area in the coming months and years.

Locals had varying degrees of knowledge of the production itself, with many unsure even of the movie’s title. Richie Hannapple tried to get the exact nature of the filming, the plot of the story, and the angles the crew was using, but came to no solid conclusions. “They’re very fussy about people walking through and the traffic coming through,” Hannapple said.

The crew at Sparky's, including longtime owner Jeannie Nickolakis, enjoys the Hollywood commotion
The crew at Sparky’s, including longtime owner Jeannie Nicolakis, enjoys the Hollywood commotion – Photo by Dylan Skriloff

However, town residents unanimously expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of the use of their town in film, with resident Michael Garcia lauding the moviemakers for choosing Sparky’s. “I think it’s good,” Garcia explained. “I think it’s a good location. Rockland County has a lot of history, so I feel like there are certain spots here that are worthy of being filmed and even stories here that are worthy of being filmed,”

“True Story,” which is set for release in 2014, will be filming in New York City and surrounding areas through April 30. It tells the story of New York Times writer Michael Finkel, played by Hill, whose identity was stolen by fugitive murderer Christian Longo, played by James Franco.

Brad Pitt’s company Plan B is producing the movie. Co-producer Dede Gardner was on-set in Rockland along with other co-producers. The movie’s director Rupert Goold personally approved the selection of Sparky’s Diner.