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Grannies Diner takes center stage for film shoot

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By Gene Sears

A local restaurant known for its down-home charm has gone Hollywood, at least for one day over Memorial weekend.
    Grannie’s Diner, long a favorite on Fort Lupton’s Denver Avenue, found itself host to a Hollywood film crew, in town to add some local color to the upcoming feature film “Dear Eleanor.”
    Starring Jessica Alba and Luke Wilson, the film is a coming-of-age story about two teenage girls who travel across the U.S. in 1962 during the chaos of the Cuban missile crisis in search of Eleanor Roosevelt. Also starring last weekend was Grannie’s, filled with actors, lighting and production equipment, all the trappings of a Hollywood set.

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    It was all in good fun for Grannie’s owner Deborah McCarthy, who knew about the studio’s intent to film in town, but was asked to remain mostly silent about the plans until the crew arrived to set up.
    “I’ve known about it for about three or four weeks, but we weren’t allowed to tell anyone about it, because it is a big film,” McCarthy said. “We had Luke Wilson and Joel Courtney here, as the main actors.”
    Far from auditioning for the role, McCarthy said she was surprised when scouts came to her, looking for just the right location.
    “They found us,” McCarthy said. “They scouted the diner, they were out looking for somewhere to shoot the scenes, and they came in and took some pictures.”
    Then the wait began, to see if the diner would be chosen over two other area spots. After a little more evaluation, Grannie’s got the nod, and the plans began in earnest.
    “They came in on Friday night and actually redesigned,” Akins said. “They had an art director, and they came in and did some decorating. They had to take down mirrors for reflections and they had to change out lights, but they left most of the things up. They did put up some pictures, changed the curtains to brighten it up, some small things.”
    The film crew also prepared the street in front of the diner, hiding neon signs and rolling period automobiles up and down Denver Avenue, simulating 1962. 
    McCarthy, who made all the food used as props in the diner scenes, found herself fussing over the dishes, even though no one was eating them.
    “Afterwards, they were really cool,” McCarthy said. “Luke Wilson and Joel gave autographs, took pictures with people, they were really nice. Everyone had an opportunity to get pictures taken.”
    Despite the glitter, the fame isn’t going to McCarthy’s head. Back to business as usual, the diner’s booths were filled with hungry customers waiting for lunch, while McCarthy waits to see if Grannie’s makes the final cut and ends up in the film.
    “If it makes it to the movies, this place could be famous,” McCarthy said. “Could be. They did tell me they would be filming for at least five more weeks, and the movie might not come out for five to eight months. But is sounds like a really good story.”

Contact Staff Writer Gene Sears at gsears@metrowestnewspapers.com.