A Main Line Developer Is Making a Movie About an Upper Darby Bar

Filming wraps up next week for the indie feature, whose cast includes Bruce Dern, Orange Is the New Black’s Taryn Manning and controversial actor Jeremy Piven.

upper darby movie crabs in a bucket

Left: Upper Darby bar Callahan’s Tavern. (Google Maps) Right: Actors Bruce Dern (left) and Jeremy Piven (right) consult with director Paolo Pilladi. (Photo courtesy Greg Lingo)

Many, many movies have been based on, inspired by, or set in Philadelphia. Upper Darby? Not so much. But Main Line real estate developer Greg Lingo has set out to change that with Crabs in a Bucket, a comedy that’s due to finish shooting next week.

Crabs in a Bucket is set in the fictional Delco town of Darby Heights, mostly at a bar called Callahan’s Tavern.

If this sounds familiar to you, that’s because the Callahan’s Tavern in the movie is based on the actual Callahan’s Tavern on West Chester Pike in the actual Delco town of Upper Darby. And because this is bar-happy Delco, there’s a second bar in the movie — Cawley’s — which is based on the bar of the same name just down the pike from Callahan’s.

In the story, a wealthy Delco-bred real estate developer comes home and must decide whether he wants to raze Callahan’s Tavern in favor of a more profitable real estate venture or keep the watering hole and the character of the neighborhood intact. And, naturally, the movie is filled with Delco characters.

“About twelve years ago, I decided to start writing about all these funny people that I grew up around and met in Delco and all of the crazy Delco stories,” says Lingo, a Wayne resident who is president of Rockwell Custom in Media. “I solicited stories from family and friends, and eventually, this turned into a script.”

While Lingo was busy building homes in the suburbs, the script sat around. But then he met Philly native Paolo Pilladi, who had been in the movie business since 1997, and the two worked on polishing the idea. Then last spring, the pair started working with a New York-based production team, with Pilladi at the helm as director.

Eventually, the group managed to score some not-exactly-unknown talent.

The cast includes Hollywood veteran Bruce Dern (Nebraska, The Hateful Eight, and Quentin Tarantino’s latest, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Orange Is the New Black frequent face Taryn Manning, Upper Darby native Jamie Kennedy, and, well, Entourage star Jeremy Piven, who was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women and has denied any wrongdoing. Piven stars as Mick, the wealthy developer.

“As a father of three daughters, I take any allegations like this seriously,” Lingo told us when we asked him about the casting choice of Piven. “But I also know there are two sides to every story, and I felt comfortable moving forward with Jeremy after additional research.”

Greg Lingo with Jamie Kennedy (photo courtesy Greg Lingo)

Now, if you’re hoping to spot movie cameras in Upper Darby, don’t expect too much. While the crew has filmed in Upper Darby and the surrounding area — and will be shooting some additional scenes there — most of the production is happening in Bayonne, New Jersey. Why? Money, of course.

“Bayonne is similar in size and stature to Upper Darby,” notes Lingo, a 1990 Upper Darby High School grad. “It’s gritty. And by keeping things close to New York, we are able to keep production costs down, and we’re taking advantage of New Jersey’s tax credit for the film industry. The budget of this is very important … under $1 million.”

After filming finishes next week, the crew goes full-steam-ahead into editing and post-production mode to get the movie ready in time for the next go-around of festival season in the spring.

But is your average filmgoer across the country going to care about a movie about a bar they’ve never heard of in a place they’ve never heard of?

“Really, as much as the movie is about the bar, it is about growing up in a neighborhood with low expectations, where a person who achieves some degree of success can be brought down by their friends for the fear that this person is going to leave them,” Lingo says. “And I think that idea translates to neighborhoods all throughout the country.”