Cape Gazette

Filming of ‘Mayor Cupcake’ – set in Sussex – begins

By Dennis Forney | Aug 17, 2009
Look out, Bridgeville – here comes Mayor Cupcake.

She’s going to shut down city hall and move all the town offices into booths at Jimmy’s Grille.

She’s going to make the town lean and prosperous, nationally famous and be courted, herself, for national office.

And all without swearing or nudity.

If it sounds like famous movie director Frank Capra meets Sarah Palin in Sussex County, you’re on the right track.

Only in this case the director is Dewey Beach’s Alex Pires and the star, playing Mayor Cupcake, is Lea Thompson of “Back to the Future,” “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “Caroline in the City” fame. Bring in Judd Nelson from a number of 1980s brat-pack films like “Breakfast Club” to play a recalcitrant Georgetown antique dealer and all of a sudden Delaware’s southernmost county is beginning to glitter.

Starting next Monday, Aug. 17, filming will begin on the full-length feature titled “Mayor Cupcake.” Under the Highway One Pictures umbrella, Pires is producing and directing the film, which he co-wrote with Art D’Allesandro of “Final Season” fame. Most of the story takes place and will be shot in the real town of western Sussex County’s Bridgeville, with its quaint streetscapes, fire department, police department and Jimmy’s Grille – also owned by Pires’ ventures. Some interior shots will be filmed in Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach houses and the auditorium of Rehoboth Elementary School. Shooting, said Pires, will start with one week in Rehoboth, followed by one week in Dewey and then finish up with two weeks of shooting in Bridgeville.

Then he will begin searching out a national audience for what he calls this dramedy – a cross between drama and comedy – before he moves ahead with associated second and third films already in the works. “I’m really getting into this,” said Pires. “Art has some connections and we will try to get into some of the big festivals – like Sundance or Tribeca – or go the television-movie or straight-to-DVD route.”

Pires said he’s getting into the film business because he – “like a lot of people” – wants to tell a story.

“I don’t see myself writing a great novel; I’m more of a visual person and have been a film student my whole life. So I want to use a movie to tell this story. Certainly it has shades of Sarah Palin. The basic message I want to get across is that people are good and they only have to be asked to show their greatness. Like many of Capra’s characters – as in “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” – it’s about everyday people who find themselves thrown into positions of authority, often by accident, and who are phenomenal in their new role. The average guy or woman, given a chance, can run this country as well as anyone else – I really believe that.”

‘Mayor Cupcake’ in a nutshell

Pires said the story goes like this. Mayor Cupcake starts as an uneducated, dropout, inexperienced maker of cupcakes. Lea Thompson’s husband, Howard Deutch, who directed and met her on the set of “Some Kind of Wonderful,” also plays in the movie as the Bridgeville mayor’s best friend. Their two daughters in real life play her daughters in the film. Nelson plays an antiques dealer based loosely on the real Sussex antiques dealer known as Quail. Cupcake loves the fact that he deals in antiques but rarely sells them. “Her world is Bridgeville, exactly as we know it,” said Pires. “The town hall is there, the fire department, Rapa Scrapple. It’s very beautiful – exactly like it is. Life is fine.

“Act Two,” said Pires, “One of the daughters forges her mother’s name and puts her on the ballot in an election against the popular mayor. She tries to get off the ticket but can’t. In the election she gets eight votes. The incumbent mayor gets 800. No harm, no foul. But then the incumbent chokes on a cupcake and dies. Cupcake becomes Mayor Cupcake.”

She runs the town like a family, says Pires. “Shuts down city hall, moves city departments and meetings into the booths of Jimmy’s Grille’s dining room, makes the town very lean and successful.

Gretta Van Susteren of Fox News, who has agreed to play herself in the film, gets wind of Cupcake’s fairy tale story and makes her and her town nationally famous. Everyone wants to move to Bridgeville; everyone wants to live there.”

Then Cupcake, thrust on the national scene, starts to think she likes her former life better. She wants to get back to her family, but not before higher powers mark her attraction and court her for national elected office.

“’What do you have to say for yourself?’ Susteren asks when she calls Mayor Cupcake for a reaction piece.

“’I’ll have to think about it,’ answers Cupcake.’”

What happens next? You’ll have to wait for the movie . . . and the sequel.

In the meantime, we all know about Jimmy’s Grille’s mile-high lemon meringue pie. Will baked Alaska be next?

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