KENMORE: Keanu thrills crowd gathered at shoot
by Ed Adamczyk
Actor Keanu Reeves finished his Western New York workweek Friday by shooting a scene for his upcoming film “Henry’s Crime” in at Jin Lan Restaurant. After several days of on-location work in downtown Buffalo and in Niagara Falls, the production moved to a village not known for, but certainly amenable to, a Hollywood connection.
A crowd of onlookers began forming in the cold on Delaware Avenue by 9 a.m., with no knowledge of when the star would arrive. The crowd had grown to 150 by 1 p.m. Adjacent Parkwood Avenue had been closed to all traffic except for several massive trucks, one reading “Paramount Production Support Inc.” on its side, and the morning’s only entertainment was watching the equipment of the movie business being unloaded. That, and the demolition and backfilling of an old building across the street.
And talking about Keanu Reeves.
“I just came down to see and meet the man, maybe get his autograph,” said Robert Reed of Buffalo.
Added Michelle Horne of Kenmore, “I’ve seen every one of his movies” (Reeves has actually appeared in more than 60 films, according to the International Movie Database, including “The Matrix” trilogy “Speed” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still”).
Several in the crowd, like Angela Curella, were hoping for a slightly more personal exchange with a handsome Hollywood star.
“I just want to see him, kiss him on the cheek,” Curella said.
With the anticipation came a feeling that something good was happening for the Village of Kenmore.
“Needless to say, it’s historic,” said Kenmore Police Chief Carl LaCorte. “We’re thrilled to have him here, and thrilled that these scenes will be seen all over the world.”
He pointed out that there “was some (police) overtime involved, but you can’t put a price on this kind of publicity.”
Unfortunately, all the filming on Friday took place in the restaurant’s interior. The other charms of Kenmore will not appear on the big screen. On Thursday, Assistant Director John Tyson said the second part of the date was filmed in Niagara Falls.
Brianna Valenzuela, a Kenmore resident, pointed out that “it’s fantastic. I’m star-struck, and I want him to know how great Kenmore is.”
Despite the uncertainty of the schedule, it was a remarkably orderly scene.
“We hand-delivered information to residents of Parkwood Avenue on Wednesday,” said Village Clerk Kathleen Johnson, among the onlookers, “to let them know about parking and traffic issues, and we met with the movie representatives to go over the details. We were happy to cooperate.”
The scene being filmed Friday was of Reeves and costar Vera Farminga during the first part of a date. The film is a romantic comedy wherein Reeves is falsely convicted of robbing a bank, but then decides upon being released to pull the caper for real. On Thursday, producers said the pair of actors shot what will eventually be the second half of their date at Prospect Point in Niagara Falls.
Reeves arrived in Kenmore about 1 p.m. to the cheers of the crowd, and entered the restaurant. About a half hour later he came out to greet the people gathered on the sidewalk, something he has not done since arriving in Western New York.
The crowd responded warmly while remaining orderly as cameras and cell phones clicked away (including those wielded by Chief LaCorte and Clerk Johnson). Reeves, dressed for the weather in a fur-lined hooded overcoat, signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans, but said little. Despite the lack of conversation, he appeared pleased with the turnout and the welcome. Reeves made a point of bending down to get into camera range with his smallest enthusiasts, and signed every photograph, notepad and paper scrap that was offered him. The event also produced a traffic tie-up on Delaware Avenue, as curious drivers stopped to see the star.
After about 20 minutes of a Kenmore-style meet-and-greet, it was back inside and back to work. Most of the crowd dispersed, and the construction crew across the street, which had thoughtfully suspended its noisy project, resumed work as well.