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Are A-list celebs worthy of the Chicken City?
Crew members work on heating the pool and decorating the area Wednesday for a scene that will be filmed at the Days Inn in Gainesville. Actress Christina Applegate will film a scene at the inn’s pool for “Hall Pass,” which stars Owen Wilson. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Christina Applegate was hanging out Friday at the Days Inn pool in Gainesville.

Because you know, if you’re going to hang out at a pool in Gainesville, the Days Inn is one of the finest places you can go.

Wait, actually, it’s one of the only places.

Besides, who needs all that fancy schmancy Hollywood glitz anyway? We’ve got a crystal blue lake and rolling green foothills. And a chicken monument.

So, with the recent filming of the planned summer 2011 blockbuster "Hall Pass" in and around the Gainesville area, we thought we would pose the question: How would you give an A-lister the star treatment in Hall County?

"I would take them to the bait store," said Amy Reems of Happy Hooks in Gainesville, "’cause I own it."

Since Reems’ bait and tackle shop gives her an edge on the best views on Lake Lanier, she added that a boat ride to Vann Tavern also would be "a nice day trip."

"That’s where all the million-dollar homes are, and it’s just a beautiful spot," she said.

Dave Goodrich, owner of Dave’s Goody Barn, said a trip to Lake Lanier Islands and the downtown Gainesville square would be a must-see for celebrities.

Ryan Campbell, an employee at Rabbittown Liquors, agreed the square would have to be on the list. But he had some other ideas, too.

"As for Gainesville, you’ve got the big choo-choo train across from the IHOP," he said. For a bite to eat, he added, "the Gainesville staple is El Sombrero and Longstreet."

Owen Wilson, who co-stars with Applegate in "Hall Pass" and filmed scenes of the movie earlier in the week near Lake Lanier, could check out one of our area’s fine parks. Directed by the Farrelley brothers — who directed hits like "There’s Something About Mary" and "Dumb and Dumber" — "Hall Pass" also stars Jenna Fischer and Alyssa Milano.

"There’s a few nice parks, and I know Owen Wilson likes dogs and we have a nice dog park — Laurel Park," Campbell added.

Granted, the Days Inn pool did need a few upgrades to get ready for Applegate before her scene was filmed. Earlier in the week, crews were installing new light fixtures and cleaning the hot tub. Set decorators have moved in some $34.99 yellow-and-white Garden Ridge chairs alongside the pool. Three cranes were expected to arrive soon with even more lights.

Too bad the changes are only temporary.

"They will put it back like they found it," said Ron Hahne, the manager of the Days Inn on Queen City Parkway. "They are heating up the pool water to a certain temperature. Their goal is to get it up to 84 degrees; it started at about 70 and they’ve got the heater going now and they watch it around the clock. I know they will have cranes that will be going over top of the building ... Three cranes, so you can just imagine how big they are going to be."

Maida Morgan, location manager for the film, said she started work at the hotel on Tuesday.

"We’ll probably have 15 to 20 crew people working up here 12 hours a day for the next two and a half to three days, and it’ll be probably be four or five minutes of the movie, maybe," she said. "We’re heating the pool and cleaning it and getting it all balanced and ready to go like any normal pool. We changed the circuitry out in the hot tub ...We will eventually start putting up lights on these 1-by-4s; we’re laying cable for lights — those are new that we’ve already put in around the pool, and we will be taking the fence out and putting it back in.

"Just what it takes to get a movie ready."

Unfortunately the other stars didn’t get to experience Queen City — but that doesn’t mean locals didn’t have an interest anyway.

Annie Price, who lives on Banks Street across from the back entrance of the Days Inn, said she’s excited about "Hall Pass" being filmed just a few feet away. Crews planned to close her street during filming.

"I was out picking a can up off the road and I saw them taking down the fence," she said. The Days Inn fence had to be removed, which sparked her interest in what was going on across the street.

"They are going to block the road and the next two streets — it don’t bother me, I don’t go out very much," said Price, who has lived in Gainesville for 26 years. "This is what I’m hoping for — I’m hoping to be an extra. I know they don’t get paid much, but it would be fun."

The whole experience is a first for Price, just like Miranda Smith, also a Banks Street resident, who was surprised by a movie filming so close.

"This is my first time hearing about it," she said. "I can’t wait until they do it ... they are trying to put Gainesville on the map and it’s good to be noticed."

Smith, a lifetime Gainesville resident, said she had never heard of a movie being filmed in Gainesville.

"I just know that a rapper came here to film a video but that’s it. (He) filmed it over in Newtown. It was Young Cyrus — he just did a little scene in Newtown off MLK."

Hahne said he’s also new to film crews invading his hotel— or, even scouting it, for that matter.

He said he met a representative from the production company about a month ago when she stopped by to take some photos of the hotel. At the time, she told him the Days Inn was a possible location for an upcoming movie.

"She left and the next day she called and she says, ‘I’m going to send a location manager out with another person,’" he said. "They came out and I showed them some rooms and they took more pictures."

Hahne didn’t hear anything for a couple of days, but eventually they called to say the Days Inn had been picked out of 85 other locations.

"It took about a month; it was a very quick process," he said.

But like many Hall County residents, guests of the hotel may not be able to get a glimpse of any celebrities; Hahne said they will move anyone staying at the hotel to the back.

But they might get one perk from the filming.

On Saturday, when the high is forecast to be 79 degrees in Gainesville, the Days Inn pool will still be a balmy 84 degrees, which apparently is the perfect temperature for an A-list celebrity.

Who says Gainesville doesn’t have it all?

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