Dennis Janson: Be careful whose door you knock on, you may just meet a Hollywood star

CINCINNATI -- It is becoming a rite of spring in Cincinnati. Not waiting for the daffodils to surface but rather for a sighting of a cast member of the latest movie being shot in our midst.

Academy Award winning actress Cate Blanchett headlines the production of “Carol” being filmed largely in and around Cincinnati for the next six or seven weeks. 

RELATED: View a gallery of Blanchett on set

It was February 2011 that the George Clooney production of “Ides of March” laid claim to our star-struckedness as he welcomed Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman among others to his home turf.

Then there was the widely underwhelming “The Public Eye” starring Joe Pesci filmed in Cincinnati and Chicago among other cities. This unheralded effort by the mercurial Pesci is among my favorite near brushes with greatness. The story of Leon Bernstein, a legendary 1940’s New York city crime photographer took advantage of Over-the-Rhine’s timeless Italianate architecture, especially the stoops that dot the landscape. The gritty subject of the film required many long nights of shooting.

And therein lies the nexus of my encounter with Pesci, albeit second hand.

Pesci availed himself of our hospitality in many ways that summer of 1991, not the least of which was playing golf periodically at Kenwood Country Club. He went so far as to rent a house from a neighbor of mine, who traveled to Michigan with his family every summer. 

Another friend of mine was in town for the weekend and I invited him over for breakfast that early Saturday morning.

“I’m at 7880, the fourth house right on the street,'' I directed him, forgetting to mention that my house was technically the fifth address, the fourth being the one where Pesci was staying -- a house that was somewhat set back from the road.

So much for my directions.

My friend was in a state of high agitation when he knocked on my door at 8 a.m.

“Man, your neighbor is a world class a**h***,” he blurted. “I told him I was looking for DJ and he let me know in no uncertain terms I was at the wrong house”. 

“If you want a dj, listen to the f****ing radio. I just got to bed you jerk," which was followed by another torrent of expletives that don’t bear mentioning here, or anywhere for that matter.

My friend was still a little rattled when he inadvertently unearthed the truth:

“You know, the guy was in a paisley robe and his hair was all messed up but he looked and sounded and acted like some kind of Joe Pesci."

At this point I corrected him. “You mean, ‘The’ Joe Pesci. That was him. He’s renting the house for the summer,'' I quipped. "Sorry for the bad directions.”

While it isn’t on the order of having lunch with my old friend George Clooney while he was in town, it certainly makes for a good story.

And it goes to show you that you never know when or under what circumstances you’ll have a fleeting encounter with Hollywood.

And, that's my 2 cents.

 

Dennis Janson's "My 2 cents" column is published every Monday and Wednesday on WCPO.com. His video commentary airs every Friday at 6 p.m. 

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