It wasn’t just the scrumptious Eggs Benedict, burgers and chili making folks blissful at RnR Diner this week.
The retro Saanichton eatery had a special feature on the menu Tuesday — Disney star Zendaya.
Zswaggers — diehard fans who are to the 17-year-old actress, singer and dancer what Gleeks are to Glee — have been on cloud nine since filming began in the Cowichan Valley last month on Zapped, the comedy-adventure she’s starring in for Disney Channel.
The actress, best known for her role as as Rocky Blue on Disney Channel’s sitcom Shake It Up, plays Zoey Stevens, a gifted dancer and straight-A student struggling to adjust to a new high school, a klutzy dance squad, a new stepdad, three rowdy stepbrothers and an unruly dog. As luck would have it, the dog-training app she uses also somehow controls boys in her orbit.
The film, produced by Off-Leash Teleproductions Inc. and distributed by Muse Distribution International, also features Radio Rebel stars Chanelle Peloso and Adam DiMarco, Spencer Boldman (Disney XD’s Lab Rats) and Emilia McCarthy (Hemlock Grove).
“It was a very long day, but it was cool,” recalled Rick Beal, who runs RnR Diner with Bernice Rimmel.
Beal, who usually works from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the diner that serves breakfast and lunch, said he didn’t leave until 9 p.m. Tuesday, with director Peter DeLuise (Kyle XY) and crews still hard at work during their single-day shoot in the Victoria area.
A number of vintage automobiles were pressed into service for the Saanichton scene, he confirmed.
It’s no wonder the shoot attracted local Zswaggers. Zendaya, whose full name is Zendaya Coleman, is popular with tweens. The Disney star, who began her career as a fashion model for Macy’s and Old Navy, has 3.5 million Twitter followers, part of a huge fan base also fuelled by her appearances on Dancing With the Stars and singles such as Replay from her debut album.
Zapped, based on the Leslie Margolis book Boys are Dogs, also features choreography by Aakomon (A.J.) Jones of Pitch Perfect fame. It’s slated to appear on Disney Channels worldwide next year, and on the Family Channel in Canada.
Victoria film commissioner Kathleen Gilbert said she hoped the region would be able to attract bigger slices of such productions once the provincial government fulfils its campaign promise to offer a six per cent distant location tax credit.
“We’re working on building an infrastructure and continuing to work on getting that six per cent,” Gilbert said. “We appreciate shows coming here occasionally but we’d love to have them relocate here. But we need a date [for the tax incentive to kick in] that we can give producers because people plan their productions well ahead of time.”
• Meanwhile, a company considering shooting part of a made-for-TV movie here is seeking a unique location.
“They’re looking for a boathouse you can drive into, but it has to have a second floor,” said Gilbert, noting there are no shortage of small boathouses on docks. “This two-storey one has to look like it would be on the dock of a mansion.” If you have one or know of one, go to filmvictoria.com.
CASHING IN: While the Toronto International Film Festival grabs the movie spotlight, Victoria-based Jonathan Holiff has his own reasons to celebrate. After a protracted rollout on the international festival circuit, My Father and the Man in Black, his labour of love about the turbulent relationship between his late father, Johnny Cash’s longtime manager Saul Holiff, and the country music legend, opens theatrically in New York, Los Angeles and select U.S. cities today.
It’s been an uphill climb softened by an escalating series of glowing reviews, most recently a favourable notice in Variety, which described his documentary as a “uniquely intertwined dual portrait of a country music icon and his Jewish-Canadian promoter.”
RUSHES: It’s last call for Her Majesty — Helen Mirren, that is. If you haven’t seen The Audience, what appears to the final encore showing of National Theatre Live’s presentation of the London West End production starring Dame Helen is slated for Monday at 7 p.m. at SilverCity.
Sellouts of the original and first encore presentation of The Audience at local multiplexes as part of Cineplex Entertainment’s Front Row Centre series inspired more showings, which also sold out, but this could be it.
The play, which imagines Queen Elizabeth’s weekly meetings with her 12 British prime ministers at Buckingham Palace over six decades, is a literate history lesson and a masterful showcase for Mirren’s uncanny ability to embody the monarch.