Paparazzi: What, No Paczkis?!

Movie cast and crew unlikely to have Fat Tuesday treats
Food For Betty Anne Waters

Todd Hill, proud Pittsburgh Steelers fan, grills ribeye steaks for the cast and crew of "Betty Anne Waters."

With a heads up from a Stopped.Watched. item filed by Juliew this morning, we made a  detour through the State Street area while out on assignment for a different story, to see how things were going with the filming of the movie “Betty Anne Waters.” It stars Hilary Swank, Minnie Driver and Sam Rockwell.

Around noon there was no sign of movie stars, but boy did it smell good! Todd Hill, who works with Hanna Brothers, which specializes in motion picture set catering, had ribeyes sizzling on his grill set up on the sidewalk outside the University of Michigan Museum of Art on State Street. Denis Giffen of Royal Oak, who drives for Teamsters local 337, remarked that, “Downwind, it’s even worse!” And by “worse,” he allowed, he meant “better.” Hill said that the ribeyes were the red meat part of the day’s menu for the cast and crew, which every day includes red meat, fish, poultry, and vegetarian options.

The Chronicle tried not to pester Hill with paparazzi-like questions. So we have no idea what Hilary Swank likes to eat, or if she chews with her mouth closed. Besides, what we figured Chronicle readers would most want to know – on the eve of Fat Tuesday – was this: Would the cast and crew be served paczkis tomorrow?

Betty Anne Waters

Not paczkis. These ribeye steaks were getting grilled for the cast and crew of the movie "Betty Anne Waters."

That question drew a blank stare from Pittsburgh native Hill. He had no idea what paczkis were, he said. Plus, the guy who makes the menu decisions is chef Steve Faust. The same question to Faust drew the same response. [Maybe we were pronouncing it wrong?] When we explained that paczkis were something of a tradition around these parts, his tone seemed a little apologetic: “If I’d known further in advance, I would have done something!”

Unless someone undertakes to deliver some lovely jelly-filled pastries to the set tomorrow, it’s a fair assumption that Hilary Swank will be paczki-less.

The movie is about Betty Anne Waters, a woman who overcame obstacles to complete a law degree so that she could clear her bother’s name, who was convicted of a murder she believed he did not commit.


  1. February 23, 2009 at 4:05 pm | permalink

    Am I the only one who wonders why they had to bring in a catering crew from PA?

  2. February 23, 2009 at 4:54 pm | permalink

    @Laura might be related to the reason California is offering its own tax cuts to movie projects now….

  3. By Joanne
    February 23, 2009 at 5:31 pm | permalink

    That is one thing MI lawmakers should put in the tax plan for filmakers-that local and state wide talent, crews, and catering/supply services be utilized.

  4. By Dave Askins
    February 23, 2009 at 5:37 pm | permalink

    Re: “Am I the only one who wonders why they had to bring in a catering crew from PA?”

    The catering company is based in Louisiana. Todd himself is based in Pittsburgh.

    I would speculate that for a movie production to have the confidence to hire a local caterer, they want evidence of experience dealing with whatever idiosyncratic aspects there are to catering a movie production. As opposed, say, to a wedding. As to get that experience providing food to a movie production … it’s a familiar conundrum.

    If it were a local caterer, I’m pretty sure there’d be paczkis tomorrow. Whether they’d get eaten is another question.

  5. February 24, 2009 at 7:57 am | permalink

    If the catering company is based in Louisiana, the menu planners should certainly understand the importance of Fat Tuesday! Anyway, I’d take a ribeye over a paczki anyday. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

  6. By Mark
    February 24, 2009 at 1:10 pm | permalink

    They’re filming up on North Campus right now. Looks like its ribs for lunch today.

  7. By Kasubo
    February 25, 2009 at 10:47 am | permalink

    PACZKI is the plural form already, no need to add an ‘s’. Paczek is the singular.

  8. February 25, 2009 at 10:48 am | permalink

    Yes, they were on North Campus all day Tuesday, mostly in Pierpont Commons, which I discovered when I had to climb over a pile of lighting equipment to get in. They had all the UM signs covered over. I could tell the extras weren’t supposed to be UM students because they were too well dressed.

    I checked out the catering van and saw no sign of paczki (which, in the original Polish, is plural without the ‘s’). The ribs looked good.