Christmas came early — or maybe late — to Haverhill on Tuesday as a section of downtown was transformed by director David O. Russell for a holiday scene in “Joy.” The cast and crew of the movie, which stars Jennifer Lawrence as Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano and Bradley Cooper as an executive at the Home Shopping Network, shut down Washington Street for much of the afternoon.
Residents, meanwhile, seemed entirely unbothered and gathered on the sidewalk hoping to catch at least a glimpse of Hollywood in action.
“It’s a shot in the arm for downtown Haverhill, which needs the publicity,” said Joel Rosen. “Everyone is thrilled.”
Rosen, in particular, is pleased because he owns one of the properties that producers are paying good money to rent.
“They asked me if I wanted to rent the place for a week for a month’s rent,” he said of his building, which had been partially vacant. “I have no reason not to rent it. I would have taken a bookie joint. It just happens to be 20th Century Fox.”
Several buildings were given a new coat of paint and different signs and window displays. Christmas decorations were hung from lamp posts and a rig was brought in to drop artificial snow on the street.
“There are extras walking around in period clothes and big belt buckles,” said Rosen.
Lou Fossarelli, who owns one of the buildings on Washington Street, said producers are taking good care of the properties they’re renting and, in some cases, improving them. Lisa Donnelly, co-owner of Le Posh Salon, agrees.
“They’ve been great to work with,” said Donnelly, whose salon has been turned into a ’70s-style women’s clothing store called Lora Lee. “They painted the building green. They said they’ll paint it whatever color we want when they’re done, but we might keep it green. We like the color.”
Of course, Tinseltown may soon turn its back on the Bay State if Governor Charlie Baker’s bid to eliminate the tax-credit program is approved by the Legislature. Rosen, for one, thinks that would be a bad idea.
“He would know better than me whether it costs the state more money than it brings in, but you can’t look at every decision as governor as it relates to the balance sheet,” said Rosen. “This is very good for Haverhill.”