Natale a Beverly Hills

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Chances are, most Angelenos will never get to see ‘Christmas in Beverly Hills.’

Unless, of course, they happen to be vacationing in Italy, where the movie figures to draw plenty of fans when it opens in December.

The romantic comedy, which recently began filming in Beverly Hills (see accompanying chart), is the latest in a string of holiday movies produced for the Italian market by Luigi De Laurentiis and his father, Aurelio De Laurentiis, nephew of the Academy Award-winning producer Dino De Laurentiis.

Similar ‘Christmas in ... ' movies have been shot in New York, Miami, Aspen, Rio de Janeiro and even Egypt and India.


‘We’ve been making these movies since 1983,’' says Luigi De Laurentiis. ‘It’s the longest franchise in Italy and one of the most successful. I look at these as the James Bond of comedy. We always try to shoot in hot locations to get the public excited.’

Evidently, Beverly Hills and Los Angeles qualify. The production will shoot here for 44 days along Rodeo Drive, Universal CityWalk and the Bradbury Building downtown, among other locations. On Monday, the crew had set up in the presidential suite of the Beverly Hilton, to shoot a scene between the movie’s star, Christian De Sica, and his ex-girlfriend, played by Sabrina Ferilli.

‘Christmas in Beverly Hills,’ to be sure, is no ‘Beverly Hills Cop III.’ The movie, with an Italian cast, has a budget of just $3.5 million (it is among the companies that qualified to receive a state film tax credit). Still, Michael Neale, the movie’s location manager who also worked on ‘Beverly Hills Cop III,’ appreciates the work, as do the 55 crew members, given the migration of film work out of state.

‘It’s almost like bringing the coal to Newcastle,’' Neale quipped during a break from filming at the Beverly Hilton. ‘Here they are bringing foreign money into Southern California. God bless them.’

-- Richard Verrier