Rewriting the library

I recently watched the 2014 movie The Rewrite, the third film collaboration between director Marc Lawrence and actor Hugh Grant. (The other two films were 2002’s Two Weeks Notice and 2007’s Music and Lyrics, two films I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve rewatched several times.) I enjoyed The Rewrite, a film about a washed-up screenwriter, Keith Michaels (Grant), who starts teaching a screenwriting class at Binghamton University to make ends meet. Interestingly, J.K. Simmons, who plays the English department chair, was featured heavily in most of the ads, as he was coming off an Oscar nomination, and subsequent win, for Whiplash. I also loved ALL of the scenes with J.K. Simmons, and Allison Janney is also a hoot as a Jane Austen scholar and professor.

So what does this film have to do with librarians or libraries?

A few minutes into the film, after Keith Michaels arrives at Binghamton University, he walks out of a campus building. I immediately spotted the “Library” sign just to the side of the door, as seen in the screenshot below. My interest was piqued!

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'The Rewrite' (2014)

Outside the library in ‘The Rewrite’

I had to hold that interest, however, as there wasn’t another scene set in the library until the credits!

In a bonus scene during the film credits, we spot Grant in the library stacks, and as he takes down a book, he spots a student from his screenwriting class down the row in a private study room.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'The Rewrite' (2014)

Library scene in the credits from ‘The Rewrite’

He goes down the row and peeks in…

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'The Rewrite' (2014)

A peek into a library study room in ‘The Rewrite’

… and finds out that the student — who was known in class for being really dark and cynical and obsessed with death — is watching the film Dirty Dancing. She is also crying at the ending! The student warns him that if he tells anyone… you get the picture. 😉

I also appreciated that when she turns around, we also get a glimpse of the interior of the study rooms. Pretty spacious and organized for a private study room!

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'The Rewrite' (2014)

Interior of library study room in ‘The Rewrite’

Even though there was no librarian in this short scene, I was glad to have watched through the credits to have at least seen one scene set in the library. However, The Rewrite does end up in the Class V category, which includes films with no identifiable librarians, although they might mention librarians or have scenes set in libraries.

I read trivia that this film was director Lawrence’s “love letter to Binghamton,” where he graduated college from. I also happen to personally know a librarian colleague who works at the Binghamton University Libraries, so I was excited to contact her and get the “inside scoop.”

My librarian colleague revealed that there were hardly any scenes filmed in Binghamton — basically the scenes in which Keith Michaels leaves the airport and drives through town. The director basically recreated Binghamton University at a different campus, and recreated well-known Binghamton locations and landmarks, as well. She didn’t even know the movie was being made until she saw a picture of Hugh Grant on the local Facebook site!

As she summed up her disappointment:

“I think the reason why it bothered me so much about the Binghamton scenes (or lack of) is because this movie is an homage to Binghamton and the university. And yet, what we saw on the screen was a false representation.”

Hugh Grant also voiced a similar disappointment:  “It’s sad we couldn’t have filmed more of it here.” That was a quote from a Q&A session with the film’s director and star after they premiered the film on the Binghamton campus, as revealed in a campus magazine article. Lawrence and Grant addressed the Binghamton absence right up front during the Q&A, with the director stating, “We had no money,” and that it would have been more expensive to shoot in Binghamton rather than shooting the film around New York City.

The film does do a good job of promoting Binghamton University, but it’s a bummer that we didn’t see more of the actual campus itself — or its library! This BU blog article reveals that a lot of the campus scenes were filmed using Long Island University’s C.W. Post campus as a makeshift Binghamton campus.

So y’all KNOW I looked up the LIU’s C.W.Post library, right? Here is a visual comparison of the two libraries. In the collage below, the top building is Binghamton University’s Glenn G. Bartle Library, and the bottom building is Long Island University’s B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library on the C.W. Post campus.

Comparison collage of library buildings from BU and LIU

Comparison collage of library buildings from BU and LIU

And that brings us full circle, to when Hugh Grant walks out of the building with the “Library” sign next to it, before he starts teaching his screenwriting class. (I’ll insert that screenshot again below, so you don’t have to scroll up and down.)

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'The Rewrite' (2014)

Outside the library in ‘The Rewrite’

You can tell by the round windows and front steps that it was the library building after all! Just not the library on the real Binghamton University campus.

Movie magic revealed… is ignorance bliss then after all? 😉

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This entry was posted in Class V.

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