Filming for the “Men of Granite” movie, which would have landed the old McCormick Middle School on the silver screen, is apparently off, at least here in town.
“The movie is probably going to happen, but it’s not going to happen here, and unfortunately due to timing on their end,” said Dennis Mock, superintendent for the Wellington Schools.
The old middle school seemed the perfect venue because it is one of few in the country with a basketball court on a stage.
Producer Valerie McCaffrey did not return repeated phone calls regarding “Men of Granite.”
“I’m not a Hollywood person, so not sure how they go about their scheduling, but when we met with them in June it sounded as if it was for sure,” Mock said. “They had a backer for the film, had the actor and actress, and they were moving forward and all of the sudden it came to a halt, and we did not receive any information from them.”
The movie is based on the true story of first-generation American boys whose parents emigrated from Eastern Europe.
The boys grew up playing basketball but were discriminated against and got no time to play on the high school team. They eventually won the 1940 state championship.
Shirley MacLaine was set to play a teacher who brought the boys together.
The story takes place in Granite City, Ill., where McCaffrey hoped to film, but McCormick proved to have something few other places did – the basketball stage/auditorium setting perfect for the film.
Mock said that about two weeks ago “they wanted to know if we could allow them to film,” and wanted to contact the demolition company to see about delaying demolition.
The superintendent directed the production company to Ozanne Construction, which to date has not been contacted, said Bill Skaggs, general superintendent for the McCormick building project.
“At this point we’re scheduled for demolition,” Skaggs said.
Filming was originally scheduled for the end of July. That never happened.
Then a request came to film in September.
“We gave permission, but it never came to fruition,” Mock said. “We need to be out of the building by Dec. 14 and they requested eight to 10 days to film and that timeline is closing pretty rapidly.”
“Since the building is going to be torn down, I don’t see how they can do it,” said Craig Housum, McCormick principal.
The building’s basketball court – actually on a stage with auditorium seating – was an authentic touch for the 1940s period piece movie.
Students were still using the gymnasium earlier this week. They are among generations of those who will fondly remember the space, home to many presentations, plays, and athletic events.
“There was a lot of enthusiasm leading up to the possibility about being part of a film that would have given McCormick some good publicity, so it’s disappointing,” Mock said. But even though McCormick won’t be immortalized in a movie, Mock said it’s still a historic gem in the minds and hearts of many Wellingtonians.
Catherine Gabe can be reached at 440-647-3171.
Photos by Catherine Gabe | Wellington Enterprise A physical education class uses the McCormick stage/court in the school’s final days. They will be among the very last to ever use the rare combination facility.