Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks to bring movie to Virginia

Meg RyanBy Lynn R. Mitchell

You’ve Got Mail is one of my favorite movies. Its stars are Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Another of my favorites is When Harry Met Sally … again Meg Ryan only this time she was paired up with Billy Crystal.  What fun to watch the perky Ryan in those upbeat, feel-good movies. And don’t forget Sleepless in Seattle and Kate and Leopold.

So when Ryan, who is now 52, was spotted in Virginia in April, a lot of people got excited when it was speculated that she was scouting possible locations for a film. One day she was in the Richmond-Petersburg area, and the next she was spotted having lunch in downtown Staunton. The news spread quickly. I posted on my SWAC Girl blog:

Actress Meg Ryan was sighted Tuesday in one of downtown Staunton’s pubs which made me wonder if her food at Staunton’s Barking Dog was as good as it was at the cafe in “When Harry Met Sally”? Just sayin’.

The Barking Dog wrote:

Well big day here at Yelping Dog. Meg Ryan was in and enjoyed one of Carley’s guacamole gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Yep the famous – Meg Ryan!

According to my Richmond sister Lori, Ms. Ryan was seen in Richmond and Petersburg on Monday scouting movie locations.

WTVR: Meg Ryan scouts film spots in Richmond, Petersburg

On Friday Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office confirmed those speculations when he announced that the Meg Ryan film to be produced by Tom Hanks had chosen the Virginia locations of Richmond and Petersburg for their film, Ithaca, an adaptation of a William Saroyan novel.

Ryan will direct and act in the film that will be produced by Hanks and his production company, Playtone. Other parts in the movie will be portrayed by actor Sam Shepard and Ryan’s son, Jack Quaid.

Ithaca is set during World War II and based on William Saroyan’s 1942 book The Human Comedy, a poignant coming-of-age story that chronicles the challenges of growing up during wartime.

An open casting call for boys was Sunday afternoon (see Tom Hanks-produced film starring Meg Ryan to shoot in Richmond area).

Governor McAuliffe welcomed Ms. Ryan and the film crew to Virginia:

“We couldn’t be happier that Meg Ryan has chosen Virginia as the location for her directorial debut. Ithaca is a heart-warming story, and we are proud that it will be shot in the Commonwealth.  We are excited to have the opportunity to work with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks on this film about an important time in American history.”

Ms. Ryan was gracious in her gratitude to the Commonwealth:

“The welcome we’ve received from Governor McAuliffe and the Commonwealth of Virginia has been lovely. We’re happily surprised by the cinemagraphic opportunities, the talent of the filmmaking community and the variety of resources at our disposal. We couldn’t be more delighted to be here.”

The film is the latest in a number of movies filmed in Virginia. Andy Edmunds, Virginia Film Office Director, noted:

Ithaca supports our mission of bringing jobs to the Commonwealth and expanding our workforce in television and film production.  It will provide exceptional opportunities for our crew and actors, as well as for Virginia businesses that provide goods and services for films.”

Filming is expected to run July through August in the Petersburg area. Here’s hoping Ms. Ryan and crew are familiar with heat and humidity because that’s what they’re going to face in that part of Virginia during hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer.

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