, Salem, MA

April 11, 2014

A Hollywood movie star sips coffee at Jaho


---- — SALEM — So what’s the story? Are they making a movie in Salem or not?

A city official relayed word Monday that she was told “The Whole Truth,” a courtroom drama starring Daniel Craig and Renee Zellweger, had been canceled. Everyone was bummed, because it was going to be a major Hollywood movie with scenes shot at Superior Court and around town.

That same day, a Boston newspaper reported the movie had been “called off” because Daniel “James Bond” Craig pulled out of the project unexpectedly last weekend.

That dire news only got worse when word came that a movie production crew called off plans to do a technical run-through Monday inside Melita Fiore, a bakery on Washington Street, where a scene was going to be shot.

So, with all these signs that the movie was dead on arrival, along come reports that Zellwegger, an Academy Award-winning actress, has been seen around town this week.

“She’s been coming in pretty much every day,” said Anil Mezini, owner of Jaho, the Derby Street coffee and tea shop.

In fact, Zellweger came in as recently as Tuesday, he said.

She even graciously posed for photos after commenting on the beautiful design on her latte foam and getting a close-up look at how the Jaho staff works its magic.

“She’s very nice,” Mezini said, “very down to earth and polite.”

Baby Mason

At noon Sunday, friends of Alissa and Kevin Silva will gather on Salem Common in a show of love and support for their son, Mason, who is battling leukemia.

The little boy has spent much of his life at Boston Children’s Hospital. He was there last Saturday, his first birthday.

Countless people have been touched by this baby’s story and his courageous fight and by the devotion of his loving parents. More than 500 are expected on Sunday, according to organizers, who will be selling T-shirts with Mason’s picture, making paper cranes and showing their support for the family.

Nostradamus Furey

Give Tom Furey credit for seeing the future before the rest of us.

The city councilor was warning about the dangers of secondhand smoke and calling for a ban on smoking in public housing more than a decade ago. It was resisted locally, but now the state is pushing it, and several local housing authorities have gone smokeless.

The Salem Housing Authority is even “entertaining” the idea.

Last call

Salem State University is holding a bash for Christine Sullivan, the retiring (as in departing, not shy) executive director of The Enterprise Center, on April 30 at Hawthorne Hotel.

And Bates School will say farewell to its favorite principal, Tom LaValley, on May 30 at Spinelli’s on Route 1.

(Hope those aren’t surprise parties.)

Tattooed Turiel

City Councilor Josh Turiel swears he has no tattoos, but he does admit to being the employer of Chris Padgett, the amateur photographer who took photos of 75 people who got tattoos to memorialize last year’s Boston Marathon.

Padgett’s exhibit is up this month at the Boston Center for Adult Education.

A former Apple employee, Padgett works for Turiel’s IT consulting firm.

Mickey Rooney

If memory serves, the late Mickey Rooney came to Salem about a decade ago for a session with official witch Laurie Cabot.

Or, come to think of it, he might have accompanied one of his eight wives to a reading with Cabot. That sounds more plausible. Or maybe one of his wives came without him.

Or, just possibly, we’re making this whole thing up.

Baghdad U.

Salem State will host eight scholars from Iraq this summer as part of the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program. The young professionals are coming here for a 10-week program on Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

No, we’re not making this up.

Salem State hopes to develop a long-term relationship with institutions of higher education in Iraq.

Pizza prize

Two chefs from Flying Saucer Pizza flew all the way to Las Vegas to compete in the International Pizza Expo.

Michael Rappa, 23, of Salem, entered his “Mars Attacks!” pizza in the Traditional Pizza category and captured second place against 60 competitors in the Northeast division — which includes New York.

Doughboy Tyler Griffin just missed the final cut in the World’s Fastest Dough Stretch, where competitors have to stretch five dough balls into 12-inch pizzas as fast as they can. This, by the way, is under consideration as a trial event at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, with the Italians and Greeks as the early favorites.

Madame trustee

Patricia Meservey is so busy they may have to clone her.

She’s president of Salem State University, president of The Salem Partnership and chairwoman of the North Shore Alliance for Economic Development — to name a few of her titles.

This week, Eastern Bank, the largest community bank in the state, named her a trustee.

Our editorial board thought of assigning a reporter to follow Meservey around for a day, but nobody here is in good enough shape.

Football photos

Sean Stellato, a former Salem High football star and current NFL agent, is writing a book about the legendary 1994 team on which he played — a team that drew wide media coverage when it kept playing during a teachers’ strike.

Stellato, however, needs your help.

If anyone has photos of that team and season, please contact him at

Chocolate chatter

Good program Wednesday at 6 p.m. at The House of the Seven Gables.

Ben Strohecker, founder of Harbor Sweets, will discuss his children’s book, “The Day the Ocean Changed to Chocolate.”

Just the thought makes us hungry.

Tom Dalton can be reached at