As far as “Mean Girls” star Lacey Chabert is concerned, Turlock residents are better than “fetch.” They’re the nicest people she’s ever met.
The actress was in Turlock for the world premiere of her faith-based romantic comedy, “Christian Mingle: The Movie,” on Friday evening. Chabert walked the red carpet at the Regal Turlock Stadium 14 along with her director and co-star Corbin Bernsen. The “L.A. Law” and “Psych” veteran shot the film largely in Turlock last December.
“I absolutely love Turlock, I had so much fun here. Everyone was so nice and kind and welcoming to us. It was a really memorable experience, so to be back here 10 months later and premiering the movie is so special,” Chabert said before the screening. “I get to shoot some some interesting places. Genuinely though, the people in Turlock are probably the nicest of anywhere I’ve ever been. We appreciate their generosity and being so welcoming. I just really hope everyone is proud of the movie.”
Chabert and Bernsen were joined on the red carpet by fellow actors Saidah Arrika Ekulona and Anna Anderson, who play friends of Chabert’s character in the film. The world-premiere screenings were packed with cast, crew, extras and other local residents involved with the production in two theaters in the Turlock cineplex. Bernsen and Chabert made sure to talk to and thank both audiences for their support beforehand.
Earlier, the actors arrived in style in a white stretch limousine to a small throng of several dozen fans and onlookers. The stars posed for photos and signed autographs. Chabert smiled and took selfies with fans of all ages – some who remember her as the youngest daughter on “Party of Five” and others as the social climber constantly trying to make the word “fetch” happen in “Mean Girls.”
Bernsen, who also wrote the film for his Christian production company, Home Theater Films, said Turlock was an ideal location for the story of a successful but single career woman looking for him and Him, with a capital “H.” The town stands in for a bohemian neighborhood in a big city, and many local businesses were used as locations and sets.
“This is a great turnout and the real deal. Here we are in Turlock,” Bernsen said of the premiere turnout. “I hope everybody laughs. And I hope this crowd especially says, ‘Wow, that’s our town!’ and are proud of our work.”
Many in attendance had some personal connection to the film. Some were family members of extras who waited among more than 1,200 hopefuls over two nights at open auditions last November. Others were curious onlookers who had seen production in the city over the winter. The film used more than 200 area extras on screen.
The two sons of Keyes resident Laura Finch were among the lucky ones who made it into the movie. The Finch brothers – Frank, 21, and Eric, 19 – appear in office scenes alongside Chabert.
“It was very exciting. They got to know what it’s like to be like movie stars. Well, they got a little taste of what it’s like.” Laura Finch said. “I think it’s good for Turlock, too. People can see what our little town is really like.”
Turlock businessman Matt Swanson, the president of Pet Extreme and Associated Feed, has been the film’s biggest local backer and served as executive director on the project. Swanson and his partner in the Turlock recording and video studio The Creation Lab, Michael Everett, helped with production and securing the finances for the film’s $650,000 budget.
“This is the steppingstone for more great things to happen in Turlock,” Swanson said. “We feel very blessed and blown away by the community reaction and support.”