It's easy to trip over a movie set these days in Copley Square or on Newbury Street, but Hollywood doesn't often take the tunnel to Eastie for a splash of local color.
Forget the grit of "The Departed" or "Mystic River." It was pure Tinseltown at East Boston High late last month with stretch limos ferrying waifs in glittery gowns to the "prom," and a romantic encounter between the characters played by Kate Hudson and Dane Cook in "Bachelor No. 2."
But this neighborhood that is no stranger to film crews also showed it is no pushover for Hollywood demands.
On a Wednesday night, for instance, the "Bachelor" film crew ordered 75 pizzas from Santarpio's Pizza.
Sure, Santarpio's wanted the business. But the movie people wanted all the pies ready in an hour. "That's the Hollywood mentality," said Jeff Kalligheri, an Eastie native who heads Dolce Vita Productions, which is supporting production of the movie.
Santarpio's, with its small kitchen and brusque waitresses, told the movie people: No.
Kalligheri, who grew up around the corner from the pizza joint, chuckled, "Santarpio's staff, they're the real actors of East Boston."
Jeff Coveney, president of Boston Movie Tours, said, "Boston is really blossoming in what's going on with filming. But we do not have East Boston stops yet."
Historically, there have been a few bumps in the road, said Kalligheri, who has been involved in the nitty-gritty of film production in the neighborhood and around the city.
"East Boston is like the North End 15 years ago. They're like Old World people and they put a lot of care and respect in their neighborhood and hate to see it trampled on." And, he said, "Everybody thinks they're somebody."
On the set of "Bachelor No. 2," there was a hiccup in neighborhood relations when drivers of the unwieldy movie trailers slammed into some parked cars. A neighborhood stalwart pulled up to the set to display extensive damage to her badly dented car, which also lost the driver's side mirror. It didn't take a CSI crew to link the swath of white paint on her car to the mammoth trailers.
Film production officials assured the woman that the damage would be taken care of. And she seemed mollified, saying to her companion as she walked away, "At least they threw the side mirror in on my front seat."
Neighborhood relations were quarterbacked by Anthony Albano, one of East Boston's legendary political operatives and a guidance counselor at the high school. Albano was the go-to guy for film officials, who one-by-one announced the obvious: "You know everybody."
Albano, meanwhile, greeted each pedestrian by name, some of them in a cryptic neighborhood vernacular that would make a scriptwriter drool. "Hey," he yelled out to one man who passed by: "What happened to that thing from the other day?"
The man shrugged, "What thing?"
Albano: "You know, that thing."
Albano fashions himself as the mayor of East Boston and was proud that the filming in his neighborhood was ahead of schedule. "Everything's going so smooth," he beamed. "We make it easy here."
A few hours later, it did not look easy when gigantic vehicles converged in front of the school, starting with a forklift used to conceal the East Boston High School sign, and several stretch limousines arriving for prom scene duty.
Then a female extra fainted inside the warm high school during a slow dance, bringing a firetruck to the crowded scene, and then a Boston EMS ambulance.
The limousines, meanwhile, were maneuvering like sharks in a sardine can.
The detail cops sorted out the traffic and filming continued.
"Everybody's playing nice because they know it can benefit the local economy," said Kalligheri. "You'll have dust-ups, but everybody's in it to win it on this one."