Shopping Landmark Turns Into Flea Market for Film

It’s only fitting that Becky Bloomwood would browse the aisles of one of the city’s most popular shopping destinations when she was in town yesterday.

Isla Fisher, who stars as Bloomwood, the lead character in the upcoming Confessions of a Shopaholic flick, was filming yesterday at United House Wrecking on Hope Street with co-stars John Goodman and Joan Cusack.

In the new movie, the Wedding Crashers actress plays a financial journalist who knows more about the marketplace than the stock market, and her shopping obsession threatens to destroy her love life and career.

The antiques emporium’s parking lot was transformed into a New Jersey flea market – the “Nutley Stop & Swap” – for a scene in which Fisher is strolling the aisles of vintage toys and bric-a-brac while wearing knee-high metallic boots and chatting away on her cell phone. Goodman and Cusack, who play her less-fashionable parents, are seen in the background haggling over merchandise.

A team of hair stylists kept teasing and spraying the Australian actress’ signature wavy auburn tresses, which were blowing in the wind.

“They’re filming all day and they said it may be four minutes in the movie,” said Andy Cunningham, the store’s general manager.

The actors also paused between takes to sign autographs.

Author Sophie Kinsella, on whose Shopaholic series of books the movie is based, was on the set yesterday and signed autographs for fans like Barbara Lee, an antiques dealer from the Maplewood Indoor Flea Market in New Milford, whose inventory was used to dress the set.

Many local antiques dealers such as Lee and Herb Hauser, owner of John Street Antiques Center in the South End, played vendors in the scene. Hauser was thrilled that a stuffed parrot from his shop was selected for a spot right in front of the camera, saying it was the most interest anyone had shown in the bird in years.

“I’ve had it such a long time,” he said. “No one would buy it.”

His shop also sold props to the makers of The Producers and the Sex and the City movie to be released next month.

Area residents were recruited to works as extras in the Shopaholic film during a casting call at St. Basil College in January.

Although the title character is English in the book, she’s American in the movie.

After leaving Stamford in the afternoon, the crew shot another scene at a private home in Fairfield.

Scenes also were filmed locally at the Sheraton Hotel on Summer Street, Greenwich Point park in Greenwich and spots in South Norwalk, Danbury and Bridgeport.

The movie is directed by P.J. Hogan of My Best Friend’s Wedding, and produced by Touchstone Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer, of Top Gun, Flashdance and Armageddon fame.

Hugh Dancy, John Lithgow, Lynn Redgrave, Christine Ebersole and Kristin Scott Thomas also star in the film, which is expected to hit theaters in February.

It’s the latest in a series of movie productions to come to lower Fairfield County since the state began offering tax credits for the film industry in July 2006.

Movie stars Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman, John Travolta, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and Steven Seagal have also shot scenes in the area in recent years.

Asked how many quid Bloomwood plunked down while browsing the aisles of the Hope Street antiques emporium yesterday, a publicist said her character would be appalled at the thought of buying merchandise second-hand.

“At a swap meet? Probably not much,” marketing and publicity manager Michael Singer said. “That’s not quite Rebecca’s style. It’s her parents’ style.”


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