On the Set With 'Jumping the Broom'

In an exclusive with The Root on location in New York City, Paula Patton, Laz Alonso and director Salim Akil share how they bonded with other cast and crew members of the new rom-com.

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It's August in New York, and the set of Jumping the Broom is buzzing with the usual suspects (the cast and crew) and some unusual suspects (Precious' Gabourey Sidibe and various onlookers). Everyone's watching Salim Akil, the film's director, climb onto a crane to film Loretta Devine -- aka Mrs. Taylor, aka Laz Alonso's movie mom -- coming home after a hard day's work.

It's the last day of shooting, and it's a virtual lovefest on the set. Forget about all the drama you hear about on movie sets -- the cast and crew chat, hug, and share photos and iPads as they prepare for their final shots. It's like one big family reunion, without the drunk uncle.

The family vibe here is fitting: The film is about two families from vastly different socioeconomic backgrounds coming together over one weekend for the marriage of the lead characters Sabrina Watson, played by Paula Patton, and Jason Taylor, played by Alonso. This is the black version of the Hatfields and the McCoys, with one family (Patton, Angela Bassett, Brian Stokes Mitchell) being wealthy and privileged and the other family (Alonso, Devine, Mike Epps) with working-class leanings and a Brooklyn swagger, to boot.

Most of the film's action happens on Martha's Vineyard, but today they're wrapping things up near Lincoln Center.

Some folks stop to watch the shoot, while others keep walking, obviously used to seeing film crews around the city. Hip teenagers hang out in groups, old heads play chess, lovers sit and chat, and tourists gawk at the film crew moving about rhythmically. It's pretty chill.

Rain is in the forecast, but Akil doesn't seem to mind. "If it rains, we're still shooting," he calmly states. He's the reason Alonso, the lead actor, says he wants to be a director one day. Akil, he says, "has never lost his head once during the entire film."

In fact, the only drama that has unfolded was off set, when Sidibe emerged from the subway, and teenagers squealed and asked for autographs. Sidibe was perturbed because she came to hang out with her friend -- not sign autographs, which she mentioned multiple times. She obliged a few of the teens, agreeing to a few photos, then took off, leaving stunned teens in her dust.

Off to the side, two of the film's producers -- Glendon Palmer of Our Stories Films and Elizabeth Hunter, who also co-wrote the film -- confer with DeVon Franklin, a Sony executive. It is clear by the way they all get along that they've known one another a long time, acting more like siblings than colleagues. They huddle with Akil, sharing ideas, then break out in laughter as they move forward with the plan.

It's also clear they understand that it is going to be a long night, and they're ready for it. They rush to finish the shot of Mrs. Taylor entering a modest brownstone with a bag of groceries before the rain comes.

People make their way into the swanky lobby of the nearby Empire Hotel. Red and gold is everywhere, in direct contrast with the green of the trees and the darkening sky outside. Makeup artists, journalists, executives, friends and loved ones sit and chat while the crew figures out how to deal with the rain, which luckily subsides, turning the day into a perfect New York night.

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