On the sets of ‘The Social Network’ and ‘The Town’

Above, Jesse Eisenberg shoots a 'Social Network' scene at Wheelock College. Above, Jesse Eisenberg shoots a "Social Network" scene at Wheelock College. (Julian Weisser)
By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / October 21, 2009

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If producers of “The Pink Panther 2’’ could make Boston look like Paris, how hard could it be to re-create Harvard? Not so hard, it turns out. Filming of “The Social Network’’ got underway this week, and Wheelock College and Boston University are standing in for the World’s Greatest University. In keeping with its longstanding policy forbidding movies from shooting inside its hallowed halls, Harvard stiff-armed “The Social Network,’’ which is about the founding of Facebook by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg. “We have a policy not allowing commercial filming on campus,’’ said Harvard flack John Longbrake. (One exception was Denzel Washington’s “The Great Debaters,’’ which was partially shot at Sanders Theatre.) No big deal. Monday, the movie starring Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg and Justin Timberlake as FB cofounder Sean Parker commandeered Wheelock’s new Campus Center to film a winter scene set at the Maxwell-Dworkin building at Harvard. Wheelock was paid for the use of the property, but a school spokesperson wouldn’t tell us how much. (With Harvard’s endowment down 27 percent this year, you’d think the Ivy League school would be happy to take some of Hollywood’s cash.) Yesterday, “Social Network’’ director David Fincher moved to BU, and tomorrow he’ll be at the South End shop Posh, which has been turned into a bogus Harvard bookstore called the “Crimson Emporium.’’ Of course, the movie loosely based on Ben Mezrich’s book “Accidental Billionaires’’ isn’t the only game in town. The cast and crew of “The Town’’ set up shop yesterday in Harvard Square. Director Ben Affleck was directing foot traffic outside The Coop in the morning, and cameras rolled in the afternoon when a security guard emerged from an armored car and walked into a bank with bags of money. Passersby said the filming caused little commotion, though one entrance to the Harvard Square T station was closed periodically.

A tax break with Obama
Suffolk freshman Scott Paiva is just back from D.C., where he met with President Obama. “It was phenomenal, a once-in-a-lifetime experience,’’ said the 18-year-old finance major from New Bedford. “Once I heard his voice, I knew this was all real.’’ Paiva was chosen to visit the White House after finishing third in the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. (He developed a tax preparation service geared to young people.) Paiva and the top two took a tour of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and talked to the president. “He told me that he’s going to have me do his Cabinet’s taxes,’’ he said. Paiva’s visit is scheduled to be on “CBS Evening News’’ Friday.

Tufts group can sing
The all-male a cappella group at Tufts University will be in the spotlight after all. We’re told that members of the Beelzebubs have all received their professors’ permission to take part in the upcoming NBC reality competition “The Sing-Off,’’ which is executive produced by local moviemaker Sam Weisman. Initially, Tufts academic dean James Glaser was loath to let the ’Bubs blow off class to appear on the show, which pits a cappella groups against each other. “Sing-Off’’ is due to air as four two-hour episodes starting Dec. 14, but a crew will be on campus soon to shoot B-roll on the ’Bubs’ bios.

Maddow makes exhibit
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow made the scene the other night at the opening of her partner’s show at the TJ Walton Gallery in Provincetown. Also there to see Susan Mikula’s pictures was stand-up comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer. Mikula and Maddow live together in Western Mass.

All ‘Saints’ day
Ten years after “Boondock Saints,’’ the film detailing the rise and fall of bartender-turned-scriptwriter Troy Duffy, still has many, many fans. A screening this week of the sequel, “Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day,’’ attracted twice as many people as could be accommodated at the Loews Boston Common. (In the end, more than 300 people had to be turned away.) Duffy told the crowd he had resisted seeing the new film because “I wanted to watch this in my home with a bunch of ‘Boondock’ fans.’’ And afterward when the audience reacted enthusiastically? “My baby’s got 10 fingers and 10 toes. I found that out tonight,’’ Duffy said. Given the filmmaker’s unpredictable nature, we had high hopes for the after-party at the Paradise, but because much of the audience was under 21, they couldn’t get in, so it was a subdued affair. Billy Connolly left early, while Duffy, Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus, and Bob Marley mingled with fans and signed autographs.

Okie joins Orpheus
Sox reliever Hideki Okajima has signed with the Boston-based sports management firm Orpheus Sports & Entertainment. Orpheus’s Joe Rosen will handle Okie’s contract as well as his endorsement deals. . . . Former Sox pitcher Brad Penny sure gets around. The hard-throwing hulk, who used to date Eliza Dushku, was at the Steel Panther show in LA the other night canoodling with Karina Smirnoff. The “Dancing With the Stars’’ pro is footloose after breaking up with fiance Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

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