Julia Roberts back in town filming in Riderwood


WELCOME BACK TO This Just In, brought to you by Tostitos, and recently named the official morning newspaper column of the new millennium. If it's OK with everyone out there, I'd like to pick up where we left off -- with a little La-La from the Land of Pleasant Living. Yes! It's another Julia Roberts sighting! (I can't help it, friends. Eddie Querzoli, my first city editor, told me long ago: "Names is news, kid, names is news.")

Roberts and co-star Richard Gere were in Riderwood yesterday for more work on "Runaway Bride," the romantic comedy from Lakeshore/Paramount directed by Garry Marshall. After a break for the holidays, the film went into production again, with a chilly one-day, all-day shoot at Gill's Garage on West Joppa Road. Charlie Gill says Gere and Roberts worked inside and outside, and he seemed mildly pleased and amused about the whole thing. The garage was selected for a location because it was built in 1926 and looks like it could have been the set of "Petrified Forest," all stucco and wood and small-towny; there's a roll-top desk and an old cash register inside. "We had some commercials filmed here, too," says the mellow Gill. "Crown gasoline filmed here and General Motors, and a couple of insurance companies." Three more weeks of production for "Bride." And then, no more Julia sightings!

1969 a bad local sports year

It's coming, friends. The first of three grim 30-year anniversaries for Baltimore sports fans. Super Bowl III was Jan. 12, 1969, in Miami. Led by that mouthy playboy Joe Namath, the New York Jets upset the Colts, 16-7, becoming the first team from the old American Football League to take a world championship. Then, April was almost as cruel as January. On 4-2-69, the New York Knicks beat the Bullets 115-108 at Madison Square Garden to sweep a semifinal playoff in the NBA's Eastern Division. (The Wes Unseld-led Bullets had logged the best record in the NBA during the 1968-1969 season.) Then, in October, those pesky New York Mets beat the vaunted Orioles in the World Series. Ouch. Ouch. And ouch. All inflicted by New York teams. (As if you needed reminding.)

Joey's back, and eating

Our old chum, Joey Amalfitano, is back for another year as official food taster and cultural correspondent of TJI. He resolves to keep eating as a public service to readers of this column. Here he is with surf and turf musings:

"Maxine and I were out at a holiday party, and I nearly flipped over the couch. The subject was oysters. Maxine loves them as I do -- raw. One of the other guests, who also professed love for one of nature's wonderful nuggets, said he was content to open an oyster any way he could -- even if that meant using a hammer or a chisel or, God forbid, a steam bath. Even Maxine -- do I know this woman? -- said the style of shucking didn't matter, as long as you got the oyster open. But I'm a purist. There's only one way to shuck an oyster: You scrub the shell, hold it with a rubber glove or slightly wet towel, round end of the shell down, insert an oyster knife in the hinge and twist. Then you cut some muscles away, freeing the mighty oyster for its slithery journey down the gullet. It's not that hard. Oyster harvests are up, prices are good, and every oyster lover should learn how to shuck 'em if you got 'em. ... On another matter, I was in Dundalk the other day and I discovered a scrumptious delight at Bill Bateman's Express on German Hill Road: A pulled pork sandwich, enough fries to feed several families, a dab of cole slaw and a soda. Cost me six bucks and change. Hit the target on a blustery day, I'll tellya. ... One last thing. I gotta get this off my chest: If I see one more local 'news' station allegedly taking the pulse of Baltimore at Jimmy's in Fells Point I'm going to do an Elvis and shoot my television. Happy New Year, everybody."

Going to higher ground

In a simple traditional wedding at Har Sinai Synagogue last month, mid-40s-somethings Mitchell Hellman and Starr Belsky elevated their three-year relationship to higher ground -- an event that the groom's mother, "Buzz" Hellman, said she thought she'd never see. (They met through Mitch's newspaper ad: "A man who hates sports, puts the seat down, asks directions, and treats women as equals. Am I for real?")

Asked by a friend what the couple might need in the way of a gift, Hellman, a Charles Village long-timer, replied, "Since we already have three of everything, why not just make a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief." That way, the groom explained, it would help "ease the sting of Mitch" -- his namesake hurricane that wrought huge tragedy in Central America.

A sweet thought, Mitchell -- and mazel tov to you and Starr.

TJIDAN@aol.com is the e-mail address for Dan Rodricks. He also can be contacted by phone at 410-332-6166, or by letter at The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

Pub Date: 1/06/99

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