Hollywood is changing Gloucester.
Location crews for the film "The Perfect Storm" have been busy for the past week building a replica of the Crow's Nest bar alongside the wharf of the Gloucester Marine Railway at Harbor Loop. The new set will be the centerpiece of most of the local filming, which is scheduled to start after Labor Day.
"It's the Hollywood version of the Crow's Nest," laughed security guard Harvey Crocker, who has been keeping curious locals and tourists a safe distance from the construction.
The filming of Sebastian Junger's best-selling book, which traces the fatal trip of the local fishing vessel Andrea Gail, began in Los Angeles yesterday. Much of the film will be shot at Warner Brothers' studios.
But Assistant Location Manager T.J. Healy promised there will be enough local color to give the film an authentic Gloucester feeling.
"We will be picking up different shots to get the flare of the town," Healy said. "This set is the major location but we will be at St. Ann Church and other sites."
Healy has spent the past several weeks lining up the Andrea Gail's sister ship, the Lady Grace, for the film. According to Healy, both boats were built in Panama City, Fla., in 1978.
Healy was not sure why the film's producers chose to build a new set on the wharf rather than using the actual Crow's Nest.
"It's probably because the proximity to the water and the docks," he said.
But yesterday's crowd at the Crow's Nest had a different explanation.
"It should be here but it's not big enough," said Milena, who was tending bar.
Other Crow's Nest crew said they had heard that the ceiling of the real building was too low to accommodate the lighting and sound equipment.
And not everyone is pleased with the change in venue.
"We think it's all wrong," said a Crow's Nest regular named Mark as he sipped a beer at the bar.
"They should get the real place," added Jim, who was also disappointed with the idea of a waterfront set.
Some Crow's Nest patrons seemed ready for a casting call.
"Us movie wannabes are everywhere," joked another regular.
But others seemed ready to accept a few changes in Hollywood's version of the story.
"I got no problem with them making a movie the best way they know how," said Rusty Shatford, whose brother, Bobby, was lost on the Andrea Gail. "You have to look at it from their standards."
As for the final cut, Shatford summed up the way many in Gloucester seem to feel about the film. "
"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I'm anxious to see it -- but I'm also dreading it."