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Movie company withdraws request to film in Marblehead

MARBLEHEAD – “Grown Ups 2” Producer Barry Bernardi told the School Committee Thursday evening he is withdrawing his request to use Christopher Piper Field as the main filming site for his Columbia Pictures Adam Sandler film.The decision ended a storm of controversy expressed during a meeting at the Marblehead Village School Wednesday night. A majority of the six dozen persons attending opposed the movie use. Reasons included thoughts of disrespect for the field, which is named for a Marblehead Army sergeant killed in Afghanistan, to the disruption of spring and fall sports schedules.Marblehead High middle linebacker Tyler Bates will play football as a senior next fall. “I would love to see the field improved,” he said before Thursday?s meeting, “but not if we can?t play any games at home.”?We?re always very aware of our surroundings,” Bernardi told the committee. “We are guests in your community. We want to be where you want us? We?ll find another set. The best thing for us to do is to gracefully withdraw our request.”He said his production still plans to film in Marblehead and the surrounding area for three months, spend millions of dollars at local businesses and use the main entrance to Veterans Middle School for an exterior shot of Sandler?s former high school.At the conclusion of his remarks an audience of 40 teens and adults burst into applause.School Committee Chairman EuRim Chun thanked Bernardi for his “honest and kind words.”?I?m sorry it came to this,” Bernardi said. “We want everyone to be proud they had an experience like this.”Superintendent of Schools Greg Maass said he and Bernardi agreed that Maass could call him after the meeting, “but you called me.”As he left the meeting Bernardi said he has another main filming site in mind, but “I have nothing I can say about where it is at this time.”Columbia offered Marblehead a $125,000 rental fee for the use of the field. During July filming the field would have contained a swimming pool, tennis courts and buildings under a tent, on a temporary base of crushed stone. Columbia would have restored the field in August.The withdrawal did not change what many townspeople already know: Piper Field needs an upgrade. Recreation and Parks Commissioner Derek Norcross said Thursday morning the Village School meeting was organized by the Recreation and Parks Commission Sports Committee, “to share information on what might be going on” and get public feedback on the proposal.Four months ago the Recreation and Parks Commission proposed about $130,000 in improvements for the field, and said they were willing to make a contribution to the cost.The commission proposed putting the project out to bid on an “a la carte” basis and seeking donations outside the town budget to do the work.?At this point in our current fiscal year we don?t have the money to do the work,” Norcross said. “We have to go to the community to ask for donations.”At the end of the meeting there were more people against the proposal than there were in favor,” he added. He said he and Recreation & Parks Superintendent Brendan Egan mentioned the need for public donations for the renovation, but the public reaction was “mixed.”?People were more concerned about the movie and its effect on the field,” he said.

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