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McKeesport becomes 'Hollywood East'

| Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, 4:37 a.m.
Area teens gather along the 2600 block of Fifth Avenue in McKeesport on Wedesday in hope of catching a glimpse of actors Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell during the filming of 'Foxcatcher.' Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
A film crew and security walk around the set of an apartment scene for the movie 'Foxcatcher,' portions of which were filmed in the 2600 block of Fifth Avenue in McKeesport on Wednesday. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Chelsea Jones of Port Vue takes a photo of the 'Foxcatcher' set with her cell phone as she stands across Fifth Avenue from the action on Wednesday. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News

Social networking posts have brought flocks of area teens to McKeesport and White Oak in hope of catching a glimpse of a few Hollywood stars.

“Every teenage girl is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram saying they're going to see Channing Tatum in McKeesport,” Chloe Coluccio, 14, said as she huddled with friends along the 2600 block of Fifth Avenue.

Tatum, Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo are in the area to film “Foxcatcher,” based on the true story of John du Pont, the paranoid schizophrenic who shot and killed Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz.

Du Pont is portrayed in the film by Carell, and Schutlz by Ruffalo. Tatum is playing the role of Schultz's brother, wrestler Mark Schultz.

Crowds gathered periodically along Fifth Avenue to watch as crews focused their efforts on a second floor apartment along Fifth Avenue near the intersections with Fawcett Avenue and Lincoln Way. Some also stopped by White Oak American Legion Post 701 and Patti's Pasticceria in hope of seeing the actors.

“We actually live right by the White Oak Legion, where all of their trailers are,” Nikki Bean, 18, of White Oak, said. “My mom was driving by, saw set signs and crew parking. She didn't know what it was, and I told her Channing Tatum was supposed to be here.”

While the city was abuzz with rumors of star sightings — including that Tatum pulling onto the set in a black SUV and Ruffalo posing for a quick photo with fans — local officials did not confirm who was on set.

“We're not at liberty to discuss who or what the production is,” McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “But from a city standpoint, we are extremely excited to have a movie being filmed in our town.”

The Pittsburgh Film Office did not confirm what Wednesday's filming entailed, but the On Location Vacations website, which touts itself as the “best source for filming locations, celebrity sightings and events,” indicated that partial road closures can be expected in the McKeesport area through Friday for “Foxcatcher” filming.

Fifth Avenue was on the website's list of potential closures for Wednesday's filming, and the list for Thursday includes portions of Fawcett Avenue, Delaware Alley, Forest Avenue, Leech Street and Fayette Street.

Restaurants and schools are rumored to be included in the filming, but times and locations could not be confirmed.

Tatum and Carell were spotted in neighboring Westmoreland County last week while filming in Ligonier Township. They were seen in Unity and Hempfield at Sharky's Café and Target, respectively.

Sharky's owner John Huemme said Tatum was with four or five other people for dinner, and that the actor was extremely polite.

“He had plenty of girls waiting to talk with him, and he was super nice,” said Huemme, who was not at the restaurant at the time but heard about the visit from employees. “All of the customers left him alone when he was eating, and as he was leaving they started talking to him.”

Marcie Hartung's brush with celebrity on Tuesday was seeing the back of Carell's head as he left the Hempfield Target store.

She didn't realize a celebrity was in her midst until she heard several people saying the man was Carell.

“Everybody was kind of leaving him alone because he's not like Jon Bon Jovi where you'd be, ‘Whoa, look at him.' He's kind of normal-looking,” Hartung said.

Valerie Brown, a manager at Target, didn't get to see Carell, but several employees told her they spotted him.

“He was just at the lane for a minute and a couple of the team members spotted him and got excited, but then he was out the door,” Brown said. “They didn't approach him or anything. At least he had an uninterrupted shopping experience.”

Trib Total Media staff writer Jennifer Reeger contributed to this story. Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or