Sunday, May 20, 2018
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'Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks' films in bay area

Another major motion picture is filming this week in Pinellas County, aimed at a much older audience than Spring Breakers and Magic Mike.

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks is a comedy starring two-time Oscar nominee Gena Rowlands as a widowed St. Pete Beach retiree hiring a brash dance instructor (Cheyenne Jackson) for private, platonic lessons at her gulf-front condominium.

But Pinellas County locations will make only brief, wordless appearances. "St. Pete Beach" will actually be Budapest, Hungary, where principal photography has been completed — and the production's undisclosed budget was financed.

"The big disappointment, of course, is that we didn't shoot the whole movie here," said producer Tom Brodek on Tuesday. "It was frustrating for us to shoot it in Budapest, where the money came from. The best we could do is to send a second unit here for four days but at least we have that."

The screenplay is written by part-time St. Petersburg resident Richard Alfieri, adapted from his play staged at Broadway's Belasco Theatre in 2003. Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks has since been translated into 12 languages and performed in more than 20 countries. Alfieri, 65, chiefly resides in Los Angeles.

Rowlands and Jackson are the only cast members involved with this week's activity, which is entirely a second unit production. That means no dialogue is being recorded, and actors are simply being filmed against Florida-centric backdrops including a public park, the famed Coliseum ballroom in St. Petersburg, a grocery store, a beachside condo complex and the Loews Don CeSar Hotel.

"No walk-and-talk, no nothing (being filmed this week)," Brodek said. "It's just to establish the fact that (the story is set) in Florida."

Cast members who are not involved with this week's shooting schedule include Academy Award winner Rita Moreno (West Side Story) and two-time Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook). Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks is directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman, whose feature film credits include 2005's The Sisters and Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1969 debut, Hercules in New York.

No release date or distribution deal has been set for Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks. St. Petersburg-Clearwater film commissioner Jennifer Parramore has long tracked the potential for Alfieri's screenplay to be filmed locally.

"I've been working on this (project) since 2005," Parramore said from Miami, where she's attending Film Florida conferences. "It has been green-lighted and down and back and forth several times over the years. We're just thrilled that it has finally come to fruition."

Even if Pinellas County plays only a cameo role.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365.

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