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A Mid-May Snow Scene

Sunday, May 25, 2008



Shooting of the Marley & Me movie, starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, has been taking place around suburban Philadelphia for the past couple weeks, and I have taken my family a few times to observe on set. On one visit, the set designers had the family home looking like autumn with dried leaves swirling around the yard. On another day, the entire property was covered in a fresh snowfall with more white stuff falling from the sky. Only when I reached down to touch it could I tell this "snow" was really a fluffy paper product, and what was falling was soap suds blown down from fans on cranes hovering over the set. I don't know who got stuck cleaning it all up, but someone owes them a big round of beers.

More snow of the artificial type fell in downtown West Chester, Pennsylvania -- a lovely, charming town if ever there was one -- last week for the John and Jenny wedding scene. (To keep my sanity, I'm now referring to ourselves, or at least our movie alter-egos, in the third person.) Marley & Me the book opens a little over a year into our marriage with us already in our first home on Churchill Road in Florida, but the film takes a slightly different tack, opening with John and Jenny's wedding in Michigan (where we were really married). And last week, onlookers in West Chester were able to glimpse Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston running joyfully hand-in-hand down a snow-filled street after tying the knot. As you can imagine, Jenny doesn't think it's too shabby to be portrayed by J.A. (Nor I by O.W.) Her big joke with Aniston is to say, "Can you rough yourself up a little? You're looking way too good to be playing Jenny." And the actress graciously and gamely answers: "It's all makeup and hairspray. That's all it is." Yeah, right, Jen. You keep saying that.

Meanwhile, without exception, every guy friend I know has had only one question about this entire movie odyssey: "So what's she like in person?" Well, that's easy. She's great in person. So is Owen. They're both warm and funny and self-deprecating. And both were really sweet to my kids, making a point to chat with them and make a fuss over them. Colleen, my 11 year old, even got to kick a soccer ball around with Owen for a few minutes during a shooting break, high-fiving as they walked off the field, a moment I can only imagine will give her schoolyard bragging rights that should last her through graduate school.

Shooting is scheduled to wrap up soon, which I anticipate with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I'll be able to get my life back to normal, which I've found is almost impossible to do when someone is making a movie about your life right down the road. It's just too damn exciting. On the other, I'm going to miss everyone associated with this production, from director David Frankel to the Fox 2000 executives and producers, the assistant directors, cameramen, grips, set designers, dog trainers and wranglers, publicists, security guards, makeup artists, and various other workers who have all been exceptionally kind and gracious to my whole family. What fun it has been to be able to be a fly on the set, taking it all in. I guess my kids aren't the only ones who will be talking about this for some time to come.

I'll close for now. Or as we movie-biz wannabes like to say, "That's a wrap."

posted by John Grogan at 7:58 PM

13 Comments:

Blogger Stormy said...

Congratulations on your continued success!! I'm looking forward to the movie greatly!

8:56 PM  
Blogger tvlagnt said...

I was able to see the filming of Jen and Owen last week in the snow scene. Movie magic is incredible. Middle of May and our little ol' West Chester was covered in snow.
I was looking forward to seeing Jen and Owen, however I was really hoping to get to see John Grogan again. Hopefully, you'll be there when they film tomorrow in our great little town.

6:18 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

People are naming all kinds of dogs Marley these days: well-behaved ones, small ones, unassuming ones, etc. It doesn't seem quite right. Thought you should know.

Looking forward to the movie.

12:05 PM  
Blogger BakkerAJ544 said...

This is awesome! Can't wait to see this movie! I will be taking my mother in law as she got me to read your book...loved it! I have a chocolate lab named Odie. He is the best dog in the world!! I live in PA. close to where the movie is shooting...see you soon!

11:18 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

Hi I'm Karla. I have been a dog lover for 26 years of my life (since i was borned) :) I have a miniture american eskimo and according to everybody he is the worst dog ever, however, to me he is the best dog alive. I finished reading the book last night and this morning I showed up at work with puffy eyes because I cried like a baby :( My boyfriend thought I was crazy because in the course of reading this book I laughed and cryed...it was such a rollercoaster of emontions LOL I loved it and I just want to say to John that I totally related to your book and I loved every minute of it!. Can't wait for the movie, I'll be there on opening day. KUDOS

9:06 AM  
Blogger Joyloulin said...

Can't wait to see the movie! I love both leading actors! I so enjoyed your book this past week, while I have been sick.
We just lost our dog Naomi, named because my partner found out it meant "ever faithful". I sobbed and laughed in so many places.
Thank you for loving Marley just the way he was and for sure he loved you and Life.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Joyloulin said...

Can't wait to see the movie! I love both leading actors! I so enjoyed your book this past week, while I have been sick.
We just lost our dog Naomi, named because my partner found out it meant "ever faithful". I sobbed and laughed in so many places.
Thank you for loving Marley just the way he was and for sure he loved you and Life.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Joyloulin said...

This post has been removed by the author.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Sean Deminski said...

"I don't know who got stuck cleaning all that up..."

I know downtown West Chester was very nicely cleaned up the next day by a crew of workers and a large water truck!

I was able to enjoy my lunch in town the next day!

9:52 AM  
Blogger Chrystine said...

Your willingness to open your story to our hearts, our crying eyes, and my loving looks as I gaze upon the photos of Cisco(blue heeler), Junior (red heeler) and my ever present Levi (yup, a blue heeler)goes beyond settliing Marleys debt. You have given credence in print to what my family has always believed...our dogs are part of our pack, our family and our responsibility regardless of the ... ahhh, sometimes aberrant behaviour.

While sitting at the blood bank a few months ago my housband overheard a woman suggesting her friend go to the pound to pick up a dog. The friend expressed concerns about behaviour, the needs of a constant companion and what would she do if the relationship didn't "work out." To this the instigator simply suggested she could "get rid of it" by taking the dog back to the pound or "putting it down." "After all, it's just a dog."

Knowing my husband, and how we feel about our responsibility towards our family members - restraint and mannners is all that kept him from smacking her with your book and giving her a whats what lecture.

Thank you for brining to the public just how responsible we are for those we bring into our family, how much joy and unconditional love we receive from these members, and - alas, the sorrow we will feel when thhey pass. If only we could offer such unconditional love and the same treatment to our human family members.

Thank you for sharing!

7:50 AM  
Blogger Jane said...

Through a deluge of tears intermingled with heavy doses of laughter, I just finished reading the fabulous "Marley and Me" - a book with heart. I felt a strong kinship with the Grogans and their relationship to Marley. Saying goodbye to our spirited 13 year-old golden retriever mix, Brandy, was the hardest thing I have ever endured. John Grogan's ability to write from the heart with humor and passion makes "Marley and Me" a must-read. I can't get enough of Marley and look forward to seeing the movie, altho it will be tough to beat the book which I will never forget. Thanks, JG, for sharing Marley with the rest of us. From Debbie M.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

Dear John,

I work for the Snow FX company from LA that did the snow for the filming of Marley & Me in PA. I'm glad that you thought the snow looked great. It is a lot of work to clean up and I'm happy to have read on your blog that a local resident said the clean up job on the street was done well! It definitely is an art as well as a little bit of movie "magic" to make a winter wonderland like that for motion pictures.

Your book was absolutely wonderful and definitely made me laugh and cry. I can't wait to see the movie.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

Dear John,

I work for the Snow FX company from LA that did the snow for the filming of Marley & Me in PA. I'm glad that you thought the snow looked great. It is a lot of work to clean up and I'm happy to have read on your blog that a local resident said the clean up job on the street was done well! It's an art as well as a little bit of movie "magic" to make a winter wonderland.

Your book was absolutely wonderful and definitely made me laugh and cry. I can't wait to see the movie.

2:02 PM  

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