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A Star Brightens Their Day

The Shores
Actress Shirley MacLaine at The Shores in Ocean City to film a new movie. With her are film crew member Mallar Wigfall, residents Vincent VanGorden and Louise Riney, and staff members Doris Clifford, Kathy Moss and Lyndsay Severs.

By Karen Knight

Shirley MacLaine at Ocean City senior living facility for filming

OCEAN CITY – Several scenes for a new film starring Academy Award winner Shirley MacLaine and Stephen Dorff Jr. were filmed at The Shores, a United Methodist Communities facility that provides for full-service senior living.

Jim Zauner, executive director of The Shores, said the film’s location crew liked the facility because they could show a continuum of care in the film, “People Not Places,” which is about a sprightly woman in her twilight years (MacLaine) who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a homeless man (Dorff) while struggling to mend a troubled relationship with her son.

According to published reports, MacLaine plays an elderly widow living in Atlantic City who meets an erratic homeless man who sleeps in cars. Their shared loneliness causes them to bond, as they find the courage to face his regrettable past and her shortened future.

This scene was shot in the memory care dining room with residents who were extras. Photo Credit: The Shores

“We had the opportunity to visit a lot of places, and when we got to The Shores, there was no question that it was the place for our film,” said Brad Furman, director. “It was not only the nicest physically, like a resort, but the staff, residents and people in charge were so wonderfully enthusiastic and welcoming. It was like a dream come true for the movie.”

They shot four out of 24 filming days at the facility, Zauner said, in its assisted living and memory care units. The Shores has people living independently within the community, as well as in nursing home and hospice areas.

In addition to MacLaine and Dorff, the film stars Mercedes Ruehl, comedian Sam Jay, Julia Mayorga, Laurence Mason and Yul Vasquez. The movie also was filmed in Atlantic City and Pleasantville.

“Shirley MacLaine was a dynamo,” Zauner said, describing the 90-year-old who has received numerous accolades over her eight-decade career. “It was not uncommon for the filming to start at 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. and go to 3 a.m. The last day, they started about 5:30 p.m. Saturday and finished at 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

“Shirley was in multiple scenes over the first three days, and then that last day of shooting, she was in every segment, hitting every mark. She was an absolute pro, and her stamina, wow!”

Furman said that oftentimes, “people reach a certain age and are dismissed.” The movie points to the gravity and reality of the situation, but tells the story that people “at any age have leverage.”

Director Brad Furman and Shirley MacLaine with The Shores resident Nancy Longnecker, who played an extra in the film. Photo Credit: The Shores

On one of his visits to the facility, Furman said one of the residents, who was in a wheelchair, asked him what he was planning to do. When he confirmed that he planned to make a movie, the resident told him he didn’t want to do it there. He realized she was pulling his leg and joking, but when he asked why not, he said she replied, “Our story isn’t important.”

“That really hit me,” the director said, “and I was caught off-guard. This story is important because people, not places, do mean something. Our story is important, and it’s an honor to be able to tell it.”

Zauner said the facility was first contacted in March by the location crew, which visited multiple times. “Then it went dark, but then picked up again in May,” he said.

“The interaction with the residents by the crew, by the actors, was just great. Miss MacLaine was very accessible — signing photos, giving autographs — unless she was working.

“One resident’s family member had come into the facility to visit, wearing shorts and flip-flops. When she heard about the filming, she went home and put on a dress because she wanted to meet Shirley. It generated a lot of buzz and excitement here.”

Although there were some “disruptive moments” caused by the filming, the overall experience was “really exciting,” Zauner said. “We were lucky, it just dropped in our laps.”

He said the final scene shot at the facility took place in a laundry room converted to look like a semi-private room in a nursing home. The room was located in the middle of the community, and when the filming was finished, all the residents had their doors open.

Shirley MacLaine and her daughter, Sachi Parker, on the cover of Life magazine in February 1959. A resident of The Shores had the actress autograph the cover during her visit to shoot a film. Photo credit: Life magazine archives

“As Shirley walked down the hall, everyone was calling out ‘Hi’ to her, taking pictures, it was very cool,” Zauner said. “One resident brought out a Life magazine from 1959 with a young Shirley MacLaine on the cover with her daughter. She asked her to sign it, and she did.”

The film, advertised as an “independent low-budget film” in a variety of casting calls, is expected to be released next year. Furman said it was “at least 18 months out,” but could not say when it would be released.

MacLaine won an Academy Award for best actress for 1983’s “Terms of Endearment.” Among her many other notable films are “Postcards From the Edge,” “Steel Magnolias,” “The Turning Point,” “Irma la Douce” and “The Apartment.” She has been nominated for an Oscar six times.

Dorff has starred in films including “Somewhere,” “Cecil B. Demented” and “Blade.”

Contact the reporter, Karen Knight, at kknight@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Karen Knight is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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