Netflix holiday movie set in Madison and Essex this weekend

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SHORELINE – It will look like Christmas in May when a Netflix film crew shoot a holiday movie in Madison and Essex this weekend.

On Friday, set designers started working at RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison. As temperatures were a balmy mid-60s, a garland was hung above the shelves and a holiday scene, with a spireed church surrounded by small paper evergreen trees, was created in the front windows. from the bookstore.

The film crew is in Madison ready to begin filming “The Noel Diary”, starring Justin Hartley (“This is Us”) and Treat Williams (“Everwood”).

Netflix has acquired the rights to Richard Paul Evan’s successful New York Times novel “The Noel Diary”.

“The next adaptation of this holiday-themed story is about a man receiving the best Christmas present he could ask for: the chance to rewrite his past,” according to whats-on-netflix.com.

Lori Fazio, director of operations at RJ Julia Booksellers, noted that the RJ Café will be open all day Saturday, but customers won’t be able to spot the stars or actors from their tables.

“They’re going to block it out completely,” she said.

For the third day of filming for this film, the crews and stars will be in RJ Julia from Madison and The Griswold Inn in Essex.

“Part of the story is we have two people who are kind of strangers going on this road trip together, over Christmas time, and one of them happens to be a famous author.” , explained the deputy manager of the site, who spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with his contract.

“So the other one is not aware of it, but she stops in a bookstore and finds her book and buys it and that’s how she finds out how famous he is,” he said. he adds. “So that’s what we do in the bookstore.”

The former Khaki & Black location, next to the bookstore and currently unoccupied, will be used by the crew.

“It works great for us to stage some of our backstory cast, so they get ready and they can just walk right next to it, so we praised that,” the site’s deputy director said.

He explains how RJ Julia was chosen.

“We have a team of people who are in my department to take a look at the place finders and we ask them to say, ‘We have to find the most charming bookstore that came right out of a postcard. ‘, and it happens to be in Madison, ”he explained.

This shoot is scheduled for immediately after the crew filmed the main characters from Essex.

“We use the Griswold Inn as an inn,” he says. “We have a scene there that plays like a New England inn.”

“It all depends on the look,” he added. “How do we find what we are looking for in our range of travel?”

He explained that the entire film was shot exclusively in Connecticut, including Bridgeport, Essex, Madison, Manchester and New Canaan.

He pointed out that the film crew worked closely with the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development – Office of Film, Television and Digital Media to make connections in individual towns and obtain the necessary permits.

“It’s a particularly big team and it’s a ton of work to get from place to place for sure,” said executive producer Andrew Gernhard of Johnson Production Group CT.

He spoke about choosing Madison and Essex for the filming locations.

“It’s a Christmas movie, so it’s all about the texture and feel of the movie and it just looks great,” Gernhard said of RJ Julia.

“Gray is awesome,” he added. “We did a movie years ago called ‘Christmas at Pemberley Mansion’, and Essex as a whole looks gorgeous for any kind of movie for sure.”

Madison and Essex look forward to welcoming the film crews to town.

“It’s very exciting, especially with the pandemic, we haven’t really seen any activity,” said Michele Call, deputy director of the Madison Chamber of Commerce.

“So to see a movie being shot in our little downtown, it feels normal again and it’s normal, exciting, like it would have been before the pandemic,” she added.

Madison First Selectwomen Peggy Lyons echoes this.

“I think it’s really exciting for our city to be in a Netflix movie and it just shows the great environment we have here in Madison,” she said.

While Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman believes the forecast for storms this weekend will keep some fans away, he has enlisted the help of the police and the Public Works Department to minimize the disruption.

“I think they (the film crew) are constantly revising the way they distribute it, but we’re doing everything we can to accommodate them and work together,” Needleman said.

“We want this to work for everyone,” he added. “It’s good for the city, good for the state.”

In Madison, the Police Department, Fire Department and First Breeder’s Office have been working with the production company for the past two weeks “to make sure that we keep as many parking spaces cleared for visitors to town and that there is has as little disruption as possible. . “

“It will be somewhat disruptive,” Lyons said. “The shoot only takes place in the evening, but there’s a lot of equipment and a lot of planning involved, so they’ll start arriving in town at noon.”

Needleman sums up what it means to his city that the film crew chooses them.

“It’s just pretty cool,” he said. “It reaffirms the fact that we are in this quintessential beautiful New England town.”

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