Wychmere Beach Club, a true jewel in Harwich Port's crown
A posh backdrop for Sandler's new movie "Donny's Boy"
Atthe entrance to Wychmere Harbor in Harwich Port, marked by a sturdystone jetty, is a graceful wide swath of sandy beach, one of the fewaccreting beaches on the Cape and growing at a rate of up to sevenfeet a year. Beyond the beach is the confluence of all that is CapeCod: Catboats swinging with the tide, the hustle and bustle ofHarwich Port Boat Yard, and just across the channel, the elegantWychmere Beach Club-mid-stride in its renaissance as a world-classexclusive private club and venue for chic weddings, catered eventsand corporate gatherings.
EnterHollywood, a scene reminiscent this week in Harwich Port to theclassic 1966 movie, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians AreComing-a plethora of different faces, accents, strokes andverve. The invasion of Adam Sandler's upcoming movie, Donny'sBoy, filmed at Wychmere's Harbor House, site of the legendaryThompson's Clam Bar, had all the local aplomb of island deputypolice chief Norman Jones, played by wry Jonathan Winters, in NormanJewison's movie of a cold war story of the delightful chaos thatensures when a Soviet submarine runs aground near a small New Englandseaside village. "We've got to get organized, we've got to getorganized," as deputy chief Jones intoned.
Nodoubt, Columbia Pictures, Sandler and his cast of primetime co-starsSusan Sarandon, James Caan, Andy Samberg("Saturday Night Live"), Leighton Meester ("GossipGirl") and singer Tony Orlando-all on hand for filming-werehighly organized yesterday, as well as star-struck natives, some of whom watched at a distance as actors prepped for shoots or chilled on an outside deck awaiting the director's call.
In the movie, according to published reports, Sandlerplays a loser used hot-tub salesman whose son-after becoming wealthy, thenengaged-informs everyone that his parents are dead. Sandler, in obvious need ofmoney, shows up at the wedding rehearsal dinner, filmed at the Harbor House,and correctly discerns that his son's fiancée is a gold digger. The denouementis exceedingly entertaining.
It is clear the movie has struck gold with the locals. Bring it on, says Harwich Chamber of CommerceExecutive Director Sandy Davidson, who was interviewed overlookingthe set by Kimberly Bookman, reporter for WCVB, Channel 5 in Boston.The filming has attracted a spate of local, regional and nationalpress, interviewing star-struck residents and visitors. Davidson toldBookman, in essence, that all boats rise with the tide in Harwich andwhen Hollywood comes knocking, the ebb and flow crests in a moon tideof blessings.
The movie, she boasts, has spawned largesse to thetown in terms of ancillary revenues at a time when the nation wasreeling from the threat of a national default. Columbia Pictures haspaid the town $28,000 to use town-owned sites, including a nearbychurch and Saquatucket Harbor to park large equipment and productiontrucks. More than 150 extras were hired for the shoot (many from a casting call at Barnstable High School), and all theexcitement has brought in scores of new visitors to Harwich Port,which offers some of the Cape's best restaurants, shopping andgalleries.
While security has been tight on the set,onlookers at a distance have seen the stars, and wide-eyes and smilesare proof of that. There have been friendly waves from the cast and afew callouts.
Manager as movie extra
"Thefilming has been great for Wychmere and the town," says Wychmere'sasset manager Tony Guthrie, who previously oversaw impressiverenovations and repositioning at Chatham Bars Inn and WequassettResort and Golf Club in East Harwich. Guthrie even made it onto themovie set as an extra. "It was amazing just to be there in thefront row, watching the direction and filming," he says. Look forGuthrie months from now in a theater near you.
Withrenovation of the Harbor House just completed with Ralph Laurenambiance, the location for Sandler, a New England native, was fromcentral casting. And the brilliant weather this week, interruptedbriefly with a few trademark storms, was a fitting backdrop.
Wychmerenow is a central cog in Harwich's rebirth, and the Harwich Chamberof Commerce couldn't be happier. "We welcome the new ownershipteam," says Davidson. "They have done wonders for the town."
Thenew team is impressive by any measure-local, regional or national.It includes: Jim Apteker, CEO of Longwood Events, Boston's premiereevents company; Demetrios Dasco, Managing Partner of Atlas InvestmentGroup, one of New England's leading commercial investment groups;and Jeffrey Leerink, Chairman and CEO of Leerink Swann, the prominentBoston, New York and San Francisco-based healthcare and investmentbank that combines financial expertise and healthcare insight toenable clients to make the best informed investment decisions.
Guthriewas hired last fall to work his magic: refined renovations of theHarbor House, pool area, the historic 1891 Snow Inn (now called theWychmere House) and luxury guest rooms. The goal is to make Wychmereone of the most exclusive private clubs and function venues on theEast Coast. Even Hollywood would admit: mission to be accomplished.
TheRussians aren't the only ones coming to Wychmere and Harwich Port.Brace for a cornucopia of new arrivals in months and years to come.