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Locals share big screen with Bon Jovi, David Faustino

by Jordan Green

The TV reporter from Channel 2 News has the side door of the Grande staked out, shouldering her video camera at the ready for any unsuspecting moviegoers who might escape the theater and bequeath some gems of reflection about the new Triad-made Jon Bon Jovi star vehicle Pucked.

The cinema sold eight tickets for the first screening, scarcely filling the 291-seat theater, says a ticket seller. An inauspicious start perhaps, but it’s 1 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, a time when most people are yoked to either school or work. Later the theater will report sold-out screenings at 8 and 10 p.m.

The TV reporter wonders whether the eight moviegoers will emerge from the side door or the front door.

‘“It depends on whether they need to use the bathroom,’” she says. ‘“Is there a lot of water in this movie?’”

The first guinea pig appears, an older guy with graying hair. He flees from the reporter, protesting, ‘“No, you want to talk to somebody who actually liked the movie.’”

The second two subjects, employees of the Marriott Hotel, present a more balanced assessment between the two of them.

‘“He didn’t think it was very funny,’” says Mike Sands, the hotel bartender. ‘“I found it amusing. I’m amused at anything.’”

Paul Jordan, who works as a night auditor at the Marriott, watched the professional actors file past the front desk after work between 1 and 3 a.m. during shooting in June 2004.

‘“Jon Bon Jovi would always look really tired and wave and go to his room,’” Jordan says. ‘“David Faustino wanted to go out and party.’” Faustino is, of course, the actor who portrayed Bud Bundy on the TV show ‘“Married With Children’” from 1987 to 1997.

‘“I made the mistake of telling them about the Rhino Club and I never saw them again,’” Sands says.

Attendance for the 3 p.m. screening doubles the turnout of the first round. The movie opens today, Feb. 10, in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn. and Milwaukee, Wis. and will be released on DVD about 90 days afterwards, a press release by local production company SymPics International indicates.

A National Lampoon comedy, Pucked stars Mr. Bon Jovi as a loser named Frank Hopper who lives in his sister’s garage while scheming such concepts as the hovercraft golf cart and a tofu fast-food chain. When he receives 200 pre-approved credit cards in the mail he decides to launch a women’s hockey league. Legal troubles and crippling debt inevitably follow.

As the lights dim, the small crowd settles in for an entertaining ride through the familiar scenery of the Gate City and glimpses of themselves captured in celluloid. There’s the lush green residential sections of the western Greensboro inner suburbs, glimpses of South Elm Street, shots of Greensboro’s Governmental Plaza and the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem.

There are a few moments in which the small crowd erupts in unconstrained hilarity, such as when Bon Jovi’s character unintentionally tosses a dwarf in a giant punch bowl during a scene filmed at the Starmount Forest Country Club.

The extras flash across the screen, including two shots of Greensboro lawyer Don Vaughan as an intent juror during the court scene filmed at the Davidson County Courthouse. Some of the women in the darkened theater gush with the thrill of recognition during the court scene.

‘“Did you see?’” one calls.

‘“I saw me.’”

After the movie they huddle together like old alumni reintroducing themselves and proudly recounting their small roles. There’s Joseph DeMichino of Wilmington, who plays the newspaper reporter, and Joe Rego of High Point, who plays a lawyer standing behind the punch bowl in the country club scene.

‘“Do you remember the fart in the courtroom?’” asks DonnaMarie Riddle, a medical coder at Wake Forest Baptist University Medical Center in Winston-Salem, who despite her syrupy accent insists she grew up in Brooklyn.

‘“Oh no, they didn’t use that, did they?’” says Donna Brown, who answers the telephone and handles innumerable other tasks at Don Vaughan’s Greensboro law office in her real life.

‘“No,’” replies Riddle. ‘“Everybody thought it was me. It wasn’t me.’”

Riddle says she was a little worried at first that Bon Jovi would turn out to be aloof, but soon found all the professional actors, with one notable exception, to be easygoing and accessible.

‘“David Faustino was really cool,’” she says. ‘“I told him I was from Brooklyn. He says, ‘Gosh, get out of here.””Faustino was highly entertained by the ceramic pigs that adorn Lexington, where the court scenes were shot.

‘“I thought the movie was cute,’” Riddle says. ‘“I don’t think it would be a hit if it came out at the box office. It’s just pretty cool to see yourself on the big screen.’”

To comment on this story, e-mail Jordan Green at jordan@yesweekly.com.

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