June 26, 2008

Tim Grobaty: Tom Hanks Making a Splash in L.B.?

The Vatican, you may have read last week, has barred the makers of the prequel to Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code" from using two churches in Rome as location sites for the movie "Angels & Demons."

Long Beach, however, long known for being more tolerant and ecumenical than the Vatican, is reportedly welcoming the moviemakers, including star Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard, to enjoy the healing waters of the Belmont Plaza's outdoor pools - this according to a female version of the eternally anonymous Our Man in Hollywood.

Next week, barring a SAG-strike-induced hiatus, "Angels & Demons" filmers should be at the al fresco pools east of the indoor Belmont Plaza, adding to the summertime Hollywood presence at our shores, about which is more in the very next item.

The movie, due for a May 15, 2009 release, raises the hackles of church officials for, among other things, suggesting that Jesus was a married father when he died.

We haven't seen the script, so it's only a wild and flawlessly uneducated guess that it includes a scene where he's saddled with taking the kiddies to the pool for Saturday lessons while the wife's off on a tennis weekend. You can see where that wouldn't sit well with our pals at Opus Dei.

La Palapa's dexterity

Much less secretive - why bother? - with its presence in town is the popular Showtime and (edited) CBS serial-killer series "Dexter."

The show makes great use of Long Beach (as Miami; everyone loves Long Beach's Miami impressions), with several permanent locations in town, including several houses in the Los Altos area, taking on parts as Floridian households. Scouts are reportedly looking at another home - this time in the Los Cerritos neighborhood - to serve as the TV home of an upcoming character in the show.

Meanwhile, "Dexter" crews were at the very tropic-coastal- looking La Palapa restaurant - at the corner of the Belmont Pool, on the west side of the building, opposite from where Jesus takes the kids - on Tuesday and Wednesday, with a fairly huge gang of extras (about 150, we're told) to shoot a couple of different scenes for the show. In one, we are told, La Palapa plays the easy role of a restaurant and bar, while in the other, it has to stretch just a bit to take a turn as a taqueria, or, if you prefer, taco shop.


Adding to Long Beach's reputation as a movie town is the city's annual and popular Moonlight Movies on the Beach series, in which, rather than paying a mountain of money to sit in an uncomfortable seat eating expensive popcorn and watching the latest new release, you instead pay nothing to sit in a lawn chair eating complimentary popcorn and watching a good old (or, at any rate, not new) movie.

Started a few years ago by the king of the beaches, Fred Khammar, the thing has grown to a couple of locations now. From July 8 through Aug. 27, the Moonlight Movies on the Beach(es) will be held each Tuesday at the the Alamitos/First Place Beach and each Wednesday at the Granada Beach Launch Ramp, at the foot of Granada Avenue at Ocean Boulevard.

It's way better than going to a theater. In fact, it's almost as good as TiVo. And it occurs to us that we might've slipped that free- popcorn part in a little too smoothly, so we'll repeat it: Free popcorn. That's a $16 value. Parking is free, too. Go ahead and bring a chair, a bottle of pop (no alcohol, we are obliged to mention).

Movies start unreeling at dusk (about 8 p.m.) and they are as follows:

July 8: "E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial"

July 9: "E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial"

July 15: "The Nutty Professor"

July 16: "Boomerang Big Bash" (short animated films)

July 22: "The Perfect Man"

July 23: "Casablanca"

July 29: "Back to the Future"

July 30: "North By Northwest"

Aug. 5: "The Sting"

Aug. 6: "Singing in the Rain"

Aug. 12: "The Breakfast Club"

Aug. 13: "Toon Takeover"

Aug. 19: "Jurassic Park"

Aug. 20: "West Side Story"

Aug. 26: "The Bourne Identity"

Aug. 27: "The Wizard of Oz"

Tim Grobaty can be reached at

[email protected] or 562-499-1256.

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