Dan Gross: In Philly, Wahlberg's a Mar-ky attraction

Posted: January 11, 2013

MARK WAHLBERG's new movie, "Broken City," was neither shot nor set in Philadelphia, but he's grateful for the response he's gotten from locals while in town to promote the thriller, out Jan. 18.

Wahlberg, who has starred in five films shot here - "The Italian Job," "Shooter," "The Happening," "The Lovely Bones," and "Invincible" - says Philadelphia "Reminds me of home," referring to Boston.

"Good people. Hardworking people. No nonsense. No BS. They tell you what they're thinking, whether you ask them or not," he says. Wahlberg credits his role as former Eagle Vince Papale in "Invincible," for a lot of his local love.

He caught up with Papale, wife Janet and their children for lunch Wednesday in his suite at the Rittenhouse Hotel.

As for "Broken City," in which Wahlberg stars as a former NYPD officer hired by New York's mayor ( Russell Crowe) to follow his wife ( Catherine Zeta-Jones), he said that when director Allen Hughes sent him the script by Brian Tucker, he "read it and fell in love with it."

"I said, 'Let's do it, but let's do it independently. Let me produce it, I'll raise the money,' " Wahlberg told us.

"This was the first movie I did after 'Ted.' I wanted to do the complete opposite," Wahlberg said. "I was excited about getting back into grittier, edgier material." But he also had doubts about doing a movie full of fighting.

"I'm getting older. I found myself a couple times this year saying, 'I'm too old to be doing this s---,' " said Wahlberg, who also shot the upcoming "Transformers" movie last year.

Wahlberg, a Hollywood heavyweight not only as an actor but as a producer of shows like HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" and, formerly, "Entourage," says the "Entourage" film starts shooting in June.

He calls the show a "watered-down version" of his pre-married life, and really does travel with a crew of his old pals, including Eric Weinstein, his assistant since 1995's "The Basketball Diaries."

Any roles he'd still like to try?

"I might like to do an English period piece some day," Wahlberg said. "I don't want to do a musical. I'm pretty much in a good space where I've done comedy, drama, action. I kinda fiddle around with sci-fi.

"I approach every role like it's the most important role of my career. I don't phone anything in.

"There was a whole thing I dealt with when I first started acting: 'How will I be perceived by the guys in the neighborhood?' " Wahlberg said. "When 'Boogie Nights' came out, I realized I don't give a f---. If I play a guy who's not that cool, who's vulnerable or a little weak, that's what I want to do to grow as an actor."

He's concerned with doing something that would put his wife or kids in an awkward position.

"I'm not sure if I would do a movie like 'Boogie Nights' now," he said of the 1997 film about the porn industry.

Maybe a superhero movie, to impress the kids? "No, I don't want any tights on. My kids are excited about 'Transformers,' but I get to wear normal clothes."

July 4 show airs on VH1

The annual Wawa Welcome America! Philly Fourth of July Jam on the Parkway will be televised on VH1 and streamed on VH1.com, the city announced Wednesday. VH1's sister station Palladia will also air the summer concert that regularly draws several hundred thousand people.

The Roots once again will curate and perform at the concert. More acts will be announced later this spring.

Rendell nixed for jury

Ed Rendell spent a few hours in the jury pool Wednesday at the Criminal Justice Center, but both the prosecutor and defense attorney in a gunpoint-robbery case agreed that he should not be empaneled, Rendell confirmed.

"I answered all the questions [and noted] that I could be fair and decide the case on the facts," said Rendell, who believes it was his tenure as district attorney and an assistant district attorney that led the trial attorneys to dismiss him.

"It's almost a fair thing to do, given my background, but I would have bent over backward to be fair and decide the case on the evidence," said Rendell. He's been called a handful of times in recent years but served only once, on a civil case.

On Twitter: @PhillyGossip

On Facebook: dangrossphillygossip

Blog: PhillyGossip.com


Have a tip? Email DGross@phillynews.com or call 215-854-5963.

comments powered by Disqus