Cameras roll, traffic slows as filming on Kittanning Citizens Bridge starts

Renatta Signorini
| Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010

Through a pair of binoculars, Tim Barclay got a glimpse of Hollywood on the Kittanning Citizens Bridge Monday morning.

"We've watched the whole scene probably about six times," the Kittanning resident said while checking out the first day of filming for "One for the Money."

From a bench in Riverfront Park, Barclay said, he could see actress Katherine Heigl running between two cars and practicing throwing an object in the Allegheny River. He suspected the object to be a set of car keys.

Crews with "One for the Money" have been working in town since Saturday and have filmed parts of the movie throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania in recent weeks. Heigl is starring in the film based on a series of 16 novels by Janet Evanovich.

Slow-moving traffic snaked its way through the borough early yesterday during a day of road closures while scenes were shot on the bridge. Extras and onlookers hung around the area of the park and bridge while police directed traffic through town.

Barclay and his wife, Kelly, spent some time in the park watching filming while waiting for their daughter's first day of kindergarten to begin in the afternoon.

"We didn't expect to see (Heigl)," Kelly Barclay said. "I just like her as an actress."

The bridge and part of Market Street has been closed since Saturday for the filming. Borough police chief Ed Cassesse said traffic was "rough" yesterday morning as vehicles and school buses picking up students for the first day of school slowly wound around the borough on detours.

Today is the final day for the bridge and road closure.

Crews worked over the weekend to prepare for filming yesterday and today. They transformed the Citizens Bridge into the Lower Trenton Bridge in New Jersey by adding the words "the world" to the Kittanning structure. Film publicist Michael Umble said the Trenton bridge is adorned with the phrase "Trenton makes, the world takes."

The two bridges are similar in appearance and where "the world" stands will serve as a section of the Trenton structure in the film, he said.

Standing near the bridge, Umble explained that extras waiting in cars at the Water Street intersection would drive onto and off the bridge for different scenes.

"It's like an automotive ballet," he said.

Without the normal traffic through Kittanning, the northern end of the park and Water Street were unusually quiet. Umble, who had been part of the crew for "The Mothman Prophecies" filmed in Kittanning nearly 10 years ago, said he has noticed a change in the borough, adding that the previous movie was filmed during winter months.

"It actually has a lot more life than it did then," he said.

An area mother and daughter team waited in the hot sun for their chance at fame. Carol Jo Armstrong of Leechburg and her daughter Carrie Francart of Natrona Heights were cast as extras in the film after Francart contacted a casting agency because of her love for the book series.

"I e-mailed them and I was 'Like, I'll do it for free,' " she said. "We just like the books so much."

Armstrong even brought two copies of the series in her purse, but she doesn't need them for reference.

"I know every detail," she said.

The women were told to expect a 12- to 14-hour day and minimum wage, Francart said, but that didn't deter them from the opportunity.

"I've been waiting for this," she said.

The bridge will remain closed today from 4:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. PennDOT is asking motorists to use Route 422 across the Graff Bridge to the West Kittanning exit to cross the Allegheny River.

Other street and parking closures that will end after today include Market Street between Water and McKean streets. Parking will be prohibited in the 100 blocks of North Water and South Jefferson streets, at the sewage plant, as well as lots along South McKean Street behind Citizens Bank and Dizzy Lizzie's and a municipal lot at the intersection of Jacob and South Water streets.

"One for the Money" star Heigl is best known for her role on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and for films "Knocked Up" and "27 Dresses." Co-stars include Daniel Sunjata, John Leguizamo and Jason O'Mara.

The Lionsgate film follows Stephanie Plum, an unemployed lingerie buyer who takes a job with a bail bond business as a bounty hunter. Its expected release date is July 8, according to The Internet Movie Database.

Scenes in "One for the Money" are being shot in the region — crews have been at a former UPMC hospital in Braddock and the former Garden Theater on Pittsburgh's North Side. Film crews visited Kittanning in June to scout the location for the movie.

Kittanning has been the backdrop of a few movies and television shows in recent years, including "The Mothman Prophecies," a remake of the horror film "My Bloody Valentine 3D" and the pilot of "Justified" on FX.

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