Rita’s Diner went up in smoke in Cloverdale Aug. 10.
The made-for-TV diner was burnt down as cameras and a large swathe of film fans watched and recorded the experience.
“They finally torched the building after a long day of shooting,” said Paul Orazietti, the executive director of the Cloverdale BIA, and self-described film aficionado. “They set off these propane cannons at about 8 o’clock. People loved it. After waiting all day, I think everyone was very impressed.”
“They started filming early,” said Orazietti. “They had a protest out front, then a reporter came on the scene, and basically, I gather, the place ends up getting torched.”
Orazietti said he enjoyed bonding with fellow “show-watchers” while waiting for the blaze to begin.
“There were so many people filming with their phones. God knows how many videos are out there.”
Orazietti said “Alaska Daily” was in town for a one-day shoot at three different locations: downtown cloverdale for the diner scene, and two scenes at two different residences around town.
Swank did not appear in the fire scene and it is unknown if she was in Cloverdale or not.
“She was rumoured to be here, but I didn’t see her,” he said. “Unfortunately, there wasn’t a consensus on whether she was in town or not. One group said she was, another group said she wasn’t, a few of the people that were escorting actors around did say she was in town earlier in the day. So I can’t say for sure.”
Orazietti said while it was a long day of filming, most people loved it. He said there was also an expectant energy among the “show-watchers” as everyone knew the day would end with the diner blaze.
“Sometimes people can get ornery if they’re sitting around for three, four, five hours waiting for something to happen,” he explained. “Because no one comes along and gives you the definitive word about when they’ll be rolling cameras or what exactly is happening, ‘We’ll be doing this at such-and-such a time.’ But they’re loving it. Once the diner started burning, it was overwhelming. It can be a religious experience.”
Orazietti said two other productions may hit Cloverdale before the summer’s out: “Cruel Summer 2” and an as-yet unnamed Hallmark Christmas movie.
“Alaska Daily” is set to premier Oct. 6 on ABC.