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ISN'T SHE GREAT

About the Location
Isn't She Great began shooting on location in Montreal in May 1998, moving to Manhattan for exteriors at the end of July, and wrapped in New York City in August. The decision to shoot the film in Montreal was based on economics, locales and stage space. There isn't much of 1950's New York left. In fact the film includes scenes which take place in the 1920's, the '40s, '50s, '60s and '70s.

"It's kept our production designer Stuart Wurtzel and our costume designer Julie Weiss busier than they'd like to be, I think," says Bergman. "And they've done a fantastic job."

Executive producer Ted Kurdyla, who had previously worked in Montreal on Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America, knew the city could deliver the look the film needed.

  "It's very interesting," says Kurdyla, "that Mt. Royal, which is Montreal's biggest park, was designed by Frederick Olmsted, who designed Central Park. Many of the buildings in the city were built by New York architects, so the growth of Montreal parallels that of New York to a great degree."

"Stuart had a scene to design that takes place in 1929 and one in the 1940's, but for the most part the film concentrates on the 1950s, '60s and early '70s," says Kurdyla.

The nature of the script and Andrew Bergman's approach to it called for a design scheme that Wurtzel calls "heightened realism." He says, "It's not that I've deviated in style, it's just that I've had some fun with it. We're dealing with larger than life characters so I've tried to represent the world around them as being larger than life."

During the Montreal section of principal photography, the crew moved around the area quite a bit. Scenes were shot in the cities of Trois Riviores, Terrebonne, Sainte Anne de Bellevue, Senneville and Hudson, which bears a strong resemblance to parts of New England.

Within Montreal itself, the first day of shooting took place in Birks elegant jewelry store, and there were days in a warehouse in Old Montreal, Ben's Restaurant, Warshaw's market and the Denise Peltier Theatre, where in real life the film version of Valley of the Dolls has its premiere.

Le 90 (Neuviome), the ninth floor art deco restaurant of the downtown Eaton's department store, doubled for Lindy's in New York, and the big ballroom in the Ritz Carlton Hotel was the interior of the exterior of the Waldorf Astoria, which was filmed in New York City.

Wurtzel built the Mansfield apartment, the Onasis yacht and the Johnny Carson Green Room on stages at Melos Citz du Cinema in the old port of Montreal, and there were also some scenes filmed on stage space at CFCF-TV in the northern part of the city.

When the company moved to Manhattan, several scenes were shot in Central Park; the Seagram Building on Park Avenue; the ornate old Loew's Theatre on 175th Street and Broadway; a lovely apartment building on Central Park West; and Radio City Music Hall were on the call sheets.

Says Wurtzel, "I always wanted to create around Jackie a sense of desire, the world that she really wants, and she's really trying to attain, that she doesn't get."

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