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Film crews find refuge at school in Forest Hills

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Hollywood just can’t seem to stay away from Forest Hills.

Our Lady of Mercy School played host to a bevy of movie stars, including Ron Eldard of “ER” and Jill Hennessy of “Crossing Jordan,” while they were filming “Roadie” in Queens during October and November.

It was the second time the school had rented out space to the movie industry after individuals involved in “The Rabbit Hole,” starring Nicole Kidman, used Our Lady of Mercy earlier this year.

“The kids and parents were very excited,” said Principal Linda Dougherty. “The actors and actresses were very friendly.”

For renting out four of their rooms to the “Roadie” production, the school received a much-needed $3,400.

“Being paid to rent space not used full time is a win-win,” Dougherty said. “It really helps our budget.”

The school used the money to help purchase a SmartBoard and the funds helped to pay for the training teachers need to use the technology.

SmartBoards are interactive white boards that allow teachers and students to input data by using their hands, a wireless mouse or a pointing device. For example, if a teacher was giving a lesson on multiplication, she could move digital pictures around on the SmartBoard’s screen to indicate groups of numbers — such as three groups of four images to help students visualize three times four.

“SmartBoards are great, especially for math because they really help the visual learners,” said Assistant Principal Alice Rios.

From Oct. 22 to Nov. 4, “Roadie” stars and crew dined and rested between shoots at Our Lady of Mercy, which is on Kessel Street — not far from the home on Loubet Street near Ascan Avenue in which part of the movie was filmed.

The house belonged to Teri Luczek, a former Forest Hills parishioner of the Our Lady of Mercy church who recently died, Dougherty said.

“The large, multipurpose room we rented was used for make-up, wardrobe and catering,” Dougherty said. “The three smaller rooms were for the actors and actresses to take a break.”

Theresa Robertson, a teacher, and Laura Maldonado, a teacher’s aid, were located in the classroom next to the actors and crew members and said those involved with “Roadie” were very polite with them and the 3-year-olds in their class.

“Jill Hennessy always said hi to the kids,” Robertson said.

Maldonado said the entire crew was “very friendly.”

“They loved how it is decorated down here,” she said.

The movie is set in Queens and follows the story of a roadie from Queens who returns to his home borough after touring with musicians. Cast as the roadie is Eldard, who played a paramedic named Shep on ER and also starred in the Broadway play “Doubt.”

Dougherty said she believes film crews typically like the 375-student Our Lady of Mercy school because it has plenty of space to accommodate them.

The school does not appear in “Roadie,” but Our Lady of Mercy school and parish was shot for “Raising Helen,” a 2004 film starring Kate Hudson.

“We have that iconic school look,” Dougherty said, explaining the school’s appeal to films. “It’s not just a building of bricks. It’s a very beautiful building — the school as well as the parish. The neighborhood is beautiful, too.”

The school, which educates students ages 3 to 14, was built in 1966. The parish is 80 years old.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

Posted 6:29 pm, October 10, 2011
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