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A look inside Hollywood and the movies. : ON LOCATION: 'HOFFA' : Sounds Like Jack Nicholson Is Really Into the Swing of Things in Pittsburgh

March 15, 1992|Bill Steigerwald

Jack Nicklaus he ain't, at least not yet. But Jack Nicholson he is, and there he was playing a round at tortuous Oakmont Country Club near Pittsburgh, Pa., on a balmy March day.

Nicholson, who's here with director Danny DeVito and a crew of 150 making "Hoffa," had a day off from his $9-million job playing ex-Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa.

An assistant pro who played with him said that Nicholson "has a pretty good golf swing for a guy who's only been playing for a year and a half." He's no bad slicer, no terrible hooker, but he's said to have a slight fade and plays at the level of about a 15 handicapper.

When asked who he was by club members who thought they recognized him, the self-confessed golf nut would respond, "My name is Jack." He also is said to have said he'd like to take two years off and really learn how to play.

And though sports-fan Nicholson is 2,400 miles from the Fabulous Forum, he hasn't been completely deprived of his beloved Los Angeles Lakers. He and DeVito--who's reportedly staying in the $1,450 a night presidential suite--are sharing the top floor of the Vista Hotel, which has installed a satellite dish on its rooftop to pull in L.A.'s Prime Ticket sports channel so the Joker and the Penguin-to-be can watch Laker games.

"Hoffa" filming is on schedule and on budget, a slightly lighter but cheerful DeVito said this week at a press conference for local media.

The production, which heads for Detroit in about a week after five weeks here, lost a night of shooting during a heavy rainstorm while filming at the Canary Diner, an artfully elaborate "cheat" of a 1930s New Jersey Shore diner/gas station constructed from scratch by set designers about 10 miles from Pittsburgh.

The diner--complete with old Nehi signs, a small counter with stools inside and a pair of $3,800 antique gas pumps out front--will be the setting in the movie's opening and closing scenes, according to the tightly guarded David Mamet script.

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