"S.F. Video Store's Star Turn,
Role in 'EDtv' Led to Hollywood Makeover, More Business"

by Jennie Yabroff, San Francisco Chronicle, 12 April 1999

If the blue neon-accented facade of North Beach Video looks familiar, it should. That's because it's in "EDtv," Ron Howard's new movie about an average San Franciscan who captures the nation's fascination when he lets a cable TV show broadcast his every move.

This cable guy, played by Matthew McConaughey, works the day shift at a video store. He has a habit of throwing customers out of they don't pay homage to his idol Burt Reynolds.

Howard and McConaughey left town long ago, but North Beach Video is just starting to enjoy its newfound fame.

"I would say business has increased about 20 percent in teh weeks since the movie opened," owner Stan Woos says.

People from the neighborhood bring friends by to show off the landmark. And McConaughey fans comes from much farther.

MICHAEL MACOR — The Chronicle
North Beach Video owner Stan Woo says he's seen business increase 20 percent since the release of "EDtv."

One girl came from Massachusetts," says clerk Doris Wong, who hears people discussing the film everytime she comes to work. "She was visiting all the locations from the film, and she wanted to take pictures of herself behind the counter, pictures with me, pictures of the store."

Unlike the people who live in the "Mrs Doubtfire" house in Pacific Heights or the Russian Hill building where MTV's "The Real World" was shot, the proprietors of North Beach Video welcome gawkers and picture-takers.

The store is at the corner of Grant Avenue and Green Street, and its orange and blue interior and island checkout counter make it easy to recognize from the film. The spiffy new look is a gift from the filmmakers.

Before its star turn, North Beach Video occupied a cramped storefront, and empty video boxes were crammed haphazardly on dusty shelves. From the street, it wasn't even recognizable as a video store.

"What the location manager liked about the store was the neighborhood," Woo says. "They wanted to use a lot of exterior shots, otherwise they would've just built a set."

The two storefronts on either side stood vacant, allowing the movie crew to expand the store and design it to their specifications. (The set dresser even restocked the shelves with Universal films.)

When the "EDtv" crew left town it left the customized design behind. The refurbished store is twice the size of the original because the crew helped Woo move into adjoining space he already was renting. There are new carpets, paint and plate-glass windows. The expansion enabled Woo to switch from an outdated system of keeping videos behindthe counter to storing tapes on the shelves.

Universal Pictures also gave Woo a check, but he's not allowed to discuss the amount.

The only thing he didn't get was electricity.

"All the lights they used were movie lights, and they took them with them when they left."

Although Ron Howard and the crew spent four days shooting in the store, much of it apparently ended up on the cutting-room floor because the store appears in just two scenes.

Woo says Howard was involved every step of the way. "He came by the store three times before they sent us the contract," Woo said. "He likes the neighborhood and the store a lot, but eh said I didn't have enough of his films on the shelves."

The new store has enabled Woo to remedy that problem. "This has been great for us," he says. "We've been here since 1989, and business has been in decline these past few years. But now we've increased our stock, and we keep getting more new customers every day."

The film is not the store's first brush with fame. Woo was once approached by a car company that wanted to use his store for a commercial, but the deal fell through.

"When the 'EDtv' location manager first contacted us, I thought it would never actually happen," he says. "I really didn't believe it until they sent us the contract."

©1999 San Francisco Chronicle

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