What Would Hollywood Do Without The Hub?
I see it clearly now. It took my moving from Boston to Los Angeles to finally open up my eyes to the true impact of the Boston mystique. Having been an entertainment reporter in the Hub for more than two decades, I was often too busy to really appreciate the history, architecture, neighborhoods, sports teams, and colorful characters boasting an accent that only Boston actors are good at mimicking on the big screen. (Come on, you know that Wahlberg and Damon put DiCaprio, and Nicholson to shame in The Departed). The simple truth is this: Boston has been “wicked good” for Hollywood.
I returned to my hometown of Pasadena, Calif., just over a year ago after a long stint on Boston television. I first freelanced at EXTRA, aka the Mario Lopez show, and then did some on-air stints for NBC News Channel, including coverage of the Lindsay Lohan jewelry heist — a colossal waste of time and money for the Los Angeles court system to go after the mixed-up starlet, whose skin-tight designer outfit had to be more expensive than the necklace she was accused of taking. As I watched the media swarm around her, I said to myself, “Yes, Dorothy, you are not in Boston anymore.”
Yet, no matter where I went, signs of Boston keep popping up on the Hollywood landscape. I won’t go through the entire laundry list of celebs that hail from the Boston area, but it is impressive. Along with our two late-night talk hosts Leno and O’Brien, the president of CBS entertainment is a Boston University alum, Captain America star Chris Evans is a homeboy, along with my old pal Tom Bergeron, who is in top form hosting Dancing with the Stars. The Good Will Hunting boys continue to thrive and actor/uber producer Mark Wahlberg was thanked at this year’s Emmy’s more than anyone because of Boardwalk Empire and Entourage. Amy Poehler and John Krasinski continue to make big bucks with big laughs in Parks and Recreation and The Office. Marcia Cross is desperately funny as a housewife on the ABC hit. Former Pops conductor John Williams continues to compose our favorite movie soundtracks. And I discovered this love affair with Hollywood goes both ways. At a book signing for her memoir The Bedwetter, comedian Sarah Silverman, who grew up in New Hampshire, immediately asked me “How’s Bob Lobel? I loved watching him on the news!”
Maybe former Boston comedian Joe Rogan, who hosted NBC’s Fear Factor, said it best when he told me that breaking into entertainment in L.A. was easy for Bostonians, thanks to their street smarts and keen senses of humor. Dealing with laid back Angelinos was like “leading lambs to slaughter,” laughed Rogan.
Plus, Tinseltown is losing film shoots to Boston in increasing numbers. Right now, you may be tripping over Jeff Bridges or Ryan Reynolds on your way to Dunkin’ Donuts.
Though the film was deservedly trashed by critics, I went to the Sarah Jessica Parker romcom How Does She Do It? just to get a glimpse of Boston Common and Back Bay in the background. In the film Moneyball, there’s a scene where the Oakland A’s coach is summoned to Fenway Park, where he’s offered a job with the Red Sox. My heart skipped a beat seeing the Green Monster in all its glory next to Brad Pitt’s baby blues. Yes, the warm temps and close proximity to old friends and family are great reasons to be back on the left coast. But I do miss the place that I called home for 27 years.
Hollywood may have glitz and glamour, but it desperately needs Boston’s guts and glory.