Paulsboro names a street for director of 'Jersey Girl'

Posted: October 23, 2002

PAULSBORO — With all the pomp that Paulsboro could provide to pay homage to Hollywood, a tiny street was christened Kevin Smith Way yesterday.

And the director stole the scene from his star.

As the golden curtain sheathing the new street sign in front of Paulsboro High School was removed by the Jersey Girl director, actress Liv Tyler piped up in protest: "It used to be called Tyler Way."

In honor of former President John Tyler, that is.

After apologizing for stealing the glory, the New Jersey-born director of Clerks and Chasing Amy accepted a proclamation naming yesterday Kevin Smith Day and a canister of Mobil 1 oil, developed at Mobil's research facility in town.

Smith also received a key to the borough.

"Lock your doors," he quipped, "because I have a key, and I will use it.

"I'm glad the town felt the need to honor someone who doesn't deserve it," he said, appearing humbled as he, wife Jen Schwalbach, and 3-year-old daughter Harley chatted with the mayor and Borough Council members.

This depressed riverfront hamlet in Gloucester County has been spotlighted in national media since the filming of Jersey Girl began in August with its all-star cast, including Tyler, George Carlin, and real-life sweethearts Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. In the movie, scheduled to premiere next October, Paulsboro poses as Highlands, the central New Jersey town where Smith spent his childhood.

Starstruck borough officials - many of whom have cameos in the movie - said they wanted to thank the production, which has brought so much positive publicity. Filming in Paulsboro is scheduled to conclude next Wednesday.

"They've been very good neighbors to us, signing a lot of autographs, shaking a lot of hands," said Mayor John Burzichelli, a filmmaker who owns the Hill Studio, used for some indoor scenes in Jersey Girl. He first met Smith during the filming of Chasing Amy, for which his studio manufactured the closing scene's rain shower.

"When Kevin Smith wins his first Academy Award, hopefully other filmmakers will think of Paulsboro, too," Burzichelli said.

Smith's crew of 125 has filmed the Moose hall, the firehouse, a church, and Paulsboro High School, which is on the street that now bears Smith's name. Other sites include the Berlin Diner in Camden County, and Philadelphia's Hard Rock Cafe.

Some of the Jersey Girl groupies who have followed the cast and crew to those locations attended yesterday's ceremony.

"This movie has been great for the town," said Donna Barber, a Paulsboro woman who said she's "old enough to be Ben's mother" but devotedly attended all of his scenes. "Black and white, young and old, this movie gives us something in common."

Considering the fervor of the Jersey Girl fans, Paulsboro administrator John Salvatore said officials might have a hard time keeping the Kevin Smith Way sign on its post.

"I think we better order some extras," he said.

Contact Kaitlin Gurney at 856-779-3910 or

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