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Inside Hollywood At Mellon Arena

by Joe Sager / Pittsburgh Penguins

For a couple days, Hollywood took over Mellon Arena.

The Dreamworks SKG studio crew is in Pittsburgh filming its newest romantic comedy, “She’s Out of My League” in Pittsburgh. Its first stop was Mellon Arena.

Co-executive producer Jimmy Miller, a Castle Shannon native and a graduate of Keystone Oaks High School and Point Park College, wanted to shoot some scenes at the arena before it is torn down. He once worked as an usher at the Civic Arena during his college years.

T.J. Miller, Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve and Krysten Ritter are filmed last Thursday night for a movie scene in "She's Out Of My Leauge."

Starring Alice Eve (“Starter for 10”) and Jay Baruchel (“Knocked Up” and “Tropic Thunder”), the movie centers on an average guy who works at the airport and becomes involved with a gorgeous girl who is “out of his league.”

The two main characters in the script are Penguins fans, and the lead actors attended a Penguins game on their first date. The Dreamworks crew filmed the actors, crowd shots and actual hockey background action during the Penguins-Islanders contest last Thursday.

The crew returned to Mellon Arena on Monday and Tuesday for more filming, which included close-up shots from the stands and on the ice.

I had a chance to participate in those scenes as the goaltender of the Penguins as we battled the Islanders. I was joined on the ice by many other local hockey players, including NHL off-ice officials, members of the Penguins celebrity hockey team, KDKA sports anchor/reporter Jory Rand and fellow Penguins employee Robbie Hofmann.

Players watch as a hockey scene is rehearsed Tuesday at Mellon Arena.

It was quite an interesting experience for all of us. Most of us were new to the movie gig, but Phil Spano, an NHL off-ice official who organized the hockey players for the movie, had been through the process before for the 1994 movie “Sudden Death.”

While this movie called for far less hockey action, Spano was part of a scene that involved him as a member of the Islanders checking a fictional Penguins player named Scott Reese into the boards in front of the main characters.

Rand actually got the pose as a body double for the actor in those scenes.

“I don’t have a lot of experience in movie making, but I bet a lot of that will be cut out. I am expecting the worst,” he said with a laugh. “If I show up on the big screen, it will be all that more exciting.

“It was a blast. It was the closest I will ever be to playing in the NHL and getting to put an NHL sweater on. It was a lot of fun and I know my parents are more excited than anyone else to see this movie come out and see a blur go by and say that it’s their son.”

Extras fill the Mellon Arena stands in anticipation for a scene filming Tuesday.

He’s right – most of us will just show up as blurs, skating in front of the actors. Nevertheless, it was a fun and interesting experience.

Monday was the first day we were on the set. We only got on the ice for a little more than half and hour and that was just to warm up and play a little pick-up hockey. We weren’t involved in any scenes.

That was definitely the toughest of the two days as the waiting around got to be pretty draining.

Tuesday was much more exciting. A few hours after our call time, we got the word to suit up and hit the ice. While we didn’t break out in a simulated game, we did participate in several scenes in which we skated by boards while action in the stands was happening.

Jory Rand, wearing a Penguins No. 85 Fox jersey, shoots on Joe Sager during a break in filming Tuesday.

After our dinner break, it was more of the same – just skating and simulating some game action in a small area along the boards.

The final action involved a full-ice pregame warmup routine with the Penguins and Islanders players on opposite ends of the ice. That was probably the most-fun as the players took shots on me.

Once we left the ice at 12:30 a.m., it felt great to take off the pads and skates, shower and go home.

“It was a good experience. They were some long days, but I had a lot of fun,” Hofmann said. “I had an idea what went into it, but never was part of it for the entire process. I had no idea it was going to be like that.”

Even though we might not win any sort of major awards for our “acting” efforts, our names will be in the credits.

Cameras zoom in on actress Alice Eve cheering as Krysten Ritter, T.J. Miller and Jay Baruchel look on Thursday.

“Definitely the coolest part will be to see your name in the credits and hopefully catch a glimpse of yourself,” Hofmann said.

The Dreamworks SKG crew will be shooting the film in Pittsburgh through May 24. No release date has been set.

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