KINGSTON - A soon-to-be released movie starring Julianne Moore and Nathan Lane will include numerous references to Wyoming Valley institutions courtesy of the screenwriters.
Daniel and Stacy Chariton co-wrote the screenplay for the movie — “The English Teacher” — which will be featured at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York on April 26 and released in movie theaters beginning May 17. Audiences will be able to view it via On Demand on April 16.
Daniel Chariton, 37, grew up in Wilkes-Barre and graduated from Meyers High School and the University of Southern California film school, where he met his wife.
When Chariton and his wife first came up with the idea for the film he said it was a story that could very easily be told in a town like Kingston.
He said there are many local references in the movie, including a Kingston High School and references to Kirby Park and WVIA.
“I don’t want to give them all away,” he said. “But The Times Leader gets a shout out by Nathan Lane. I just thought it was very important to give the story a clear and authentic setting; it adds to the film,” said Chariton.
The plot of the movie involves Linda Sinclair (Julianne Moore), a 40-year-old unmarried high school English teacher in the small town of Kingston, Pa. Her simple life changes when a former student (Michael Angarano) returns home after trying to make it as a playwright in New York.
When the former student threatens to stop writing, face reality and go to law school, the teacher decides to mount his play as a Kingston High School production, with a flamboyant drama teacher (Nathan Lane) directing.
He said many people associated with the film related to the story that he called “a comedy with a great big heart.” His mother and father, attorney Jerry and Ruth Chariton of Wilkes-Barre have seen the movie and said it makes you feel good.
“It’s a positive movie,” Jerry Chariton said. “And it puts our area in a good light.”
Chariton said he and Stacy wrote the screenplay several years ago, but it took “a tenacious film producer” to get it into production.
“We’ve had many ups and downs,” he said.
His parents hope this film will jump start their careers. They didn’t have any idea what the movie was about or of the local references until very recently.
“They kept it quiet,” Ruth Chariton said. “We didn’t even know where the story took place. We did offer to be extras, but they turned us down.” (The Charitons have two other children who also live in Los Angeles — Deborah, vice president of post production at SONY Pictures Entertainment, and David, a financial analyst.)
Daniel said having the local references helped give the film authenticity.
“There’s as much drama and comedy in Kingston and Wilkes-Barre as anywhere,” he said. “So why not show that in this movie.”
Keep your eyes and ears open for those local references. See if you catch the scenes in the Kirby Park Coffee Shop, or in Principal Slocum’s office.
Chariton said he and Stacy are trying to get the film to show in local theaters.
Carol Nelson Dembert, a friend of the Charitons who now lives in Waverly, said having the film premier at the Tribeca Film Festival this month is a real coup.
“Few screenwriting teams accomplish this so early in their careers,” she said. “The excellent script, outstanding actors, and recognizable locations are all there. The trailer is enticing. I can’t wait to see it.”