Macon bar to be site of Eastwood movie scene

lmorris@macon.comMarch 3, 2012 

Clint Eastwood is about to make a Macon bar owner’s day.

The world famous actor and director is going to have lunch and a drink at Cheers, 3852 Northside Drive, while filming his movie, “Trouble With the Curve,” in Macon.

Jimmy Pierson, owner of the bar, said he signed a contract with Warner Bros. this week and the movie crew is expected there Wednesday to get ready for filming the scene with Eastwood on Thursday.

If anyone challenged Pierson to ask himself “Do I feel lucky?” they would get a resounding “Yes.”

“This is like saying one of my heroes is coming in my bar,” he said.

In mid-February, Warner Bros. confirmed it would be shooting some scenes of the movie in Macon. The movie features Eastwood as an ailing baseball scout who goes on a road trip with his daughter to check out a hot prospect, according to Variety entertainment news. The movie is set to be released in September just before the Major League Baseball playoffs begin.

On Feb. 18, about 300 people gathered at historic Luther Williams Field in Macon to try out as extras in the movie. Those trying out were told the casting crew was putting together a Class A Minor League Baseball team with players between 18 and 30 years old.

The movie also will feature Amy Adams, Matthew Lillard, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman.

Eastwood is not the first celebrity to visit Cheers. Tina Louise, who played Ginger on “Gilligan’s Island” came by the bar about 20 years ago. Also, musicians Dickey Betts, Gregg Allman and Boz Scaggs have visited there.

The process of choosing Cheers for a bar scene in the movie began about two weeks ago, when Pierson said a man came in the bar and asked if he could take some pictures of the place.

Before the man left he handed Pierson his card -- he was Stephen Dirkes, key assistant location manger for Warner Bros. -- and he told Pierson they were looking for a bar for the movie and that someone may be calling.

Then Feb. 24, Pierson got a call from location manager Patrick Mignano, who said: “‘Mr. Pierson, I want to know how you feel about Clint Eastwood having a drink in your bar?,’ ” Pierson said. “I said, ‘You can only imagine how excited I would be.’ ”

Mignano said he would be coming to Macon this past Thursday from Athens.

“I’m anticipating one person showing up,” Pierson said. “Well, about 40 people showed up in Tahoes and Suburbans and vans. You wouldn’t believe it.”

Because the group arrived between his lunch crowd and before happy hour, there were not many people in the bar.

“So, the only people I had in my place -- and you will love this -- was my wife’s Bible study group,” he said laughing. “They were hoping to meet Clint. They weren’t leaving until they saw who came in.”

But Eastwood, 81, did not make an appearance that day.

The movie crew scurried around the bar.

“One person is over lighting and so he decides where the lighting is going to go,” Pierson said. “One person decides what can stay in and what’s coming out of the bar. One person decides where to film from. Everybody has a job.”

The film crew was excited to learn that the bar has been there for 40 years and that Pierson had owned it for the past 24 years.

“They said ‘this is great. You can’t reproduce this,’” he said.

Pierson said director Robert Lorenz told Mignano “this is what I want.”

Someone got a contract from a vehicle and the deal was done.

On Wednesday, a crew will be changing the inside of the bar and removing some professional sports memorabilia because those items can’t show up in the film without payment to those sports figures, Pierson said. All the college stuff can stay, including items from University of Georgia, Auburn University and the University of Tennessee.

Thursday, filming will begin, “and we are hoping we can open Thursday night, but we’re not sure,” he said. “And then Friday, they will put everything back to normal. Hopefully, we will be open Friday for lunch.”

Even though a Cheers bartender might be used in the film, Pierson said he won’t be seen in the movie.

“No, no, no, they don’t need any little, old fat boy running around there, believe me,” he said.

Pierson was asked to have a cook on hand to prepare a meal for Eastwood to eat during filming, and that Eastwood would tell him what to fix.

“I understand the scene will be of Clint and (Amy Adams) talking and eating lunch or dinner at the bar,”

Pierson told the crew he didn’t want to get paid for the use of his bar, even though he will lose at least two days of business.

“I just hoped they felt comfortable with it and I hoped it helped my business,” he said. “Well, just think about it. If this turns out good and positive and doesn’t end up on the cutting room floor, it would be great for my business. I’m not greedy.”

Although it’s a long shot, Pierson said he would love for Eastwood to “do me about a 15-second spot, and this sounds corny, but say ‘when I’m in Macon, I eat at Cheers’ or something like that.”

He said the movie should not only be good for his bar but also for Macon.

“I hope it’s as big as or bigger than ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ (was for Juliette), because that was big for them” he said.

Pierson said he has been a fan since Eastwood played Rowdy Yates in “Rawhide,” a TV series that ran from 1959-66. He couldn’t choose one favorite Eastwood movie, but said some of his favorites were “Dirty Harry,” “Gran Torino,” “High Plains Drifter” and “A Fistful of Dollars.”

The excitement about the famous actor and director coming to his bar has filtered into Pierson’s dreams.

“I dreamed the other night that I told Clint ‘I’ll be back’ and he said ‘stupid, that’s Arnold (Schwarzenegger),’ ” Pierson said, laughing.

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223. Information from Telegraph archives was used in this story.

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