Allison Janney, who stars with Hugh Jackman in "Bad Education," about the embezzlement scandal surrounding Roslyn Schools Superintendent Frank Tassone, says she has always loved the type of Long Island accent she adopted for the film.
"I spent a lot of time on Long Island because my grandparents were from there," Janney, 59, who plays conspirator Pam Gluckin, said at the Entertainment Weekly and People magazine video suite at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the movie premiered Sunday. Janney's maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Wilson Putnam, lived in Lawrence, as did her mother, the former Macy Brooks Putnam.
"I used to be obsessed with the way my friends on Long Island would say 'very.' They'd say 'vary' and I thought that was so cool," Janney said. "And very early on, I adapted a little Long Island accent, little pieces of it. I don't know why I thought 'vary' was just so cool."
The Oscar and seven-time Emmy Award winner, who was born in Boston but raised in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, said, "I worked with a dialect coach and my assistant's mother is from Long Island. She has a perfect … [accent]. "I just listen[ed] to her. I was like, 'Call your mother, I need to talk to her,' and just listen to her. And, y'know, I love doing accents," she said. "As challenging ... [as doing so can be], it's a lot of fun."
Cory Finley, 30, who directed the movie written by Roslyn's Mike Makowsky, added, "We did shoot mostly in and around Long Island, so that certainly helped with the authenticity — that on the way to set and around set you could encounter people with these real accents, constantly." Makowsky was a Roslyn middle school student when the Tassone scandal unfolded in the mid-2000s.
"Bad Education," which does not yet have a distributor or release date, follows the scandal that resulted in Tassone being sentenced in 2006 for his part in an $11-million embezzlement of the school district. He was released in January 2010. Six people altogether pleaded guilty in connection to the thefts. Gluckin pleaded guilty in 2006 to first-degree grand larceny, and was released in May 2011.
“Bad Education” drew strong reviews from trade publications after its Sunday night world premiere in Toronto. The Hollywood Reporter called it "a slow-burn investigative thriller" and "a tragic-comic tale of retribution," while Variety singled out Jackman for high praise, calling his performance "the best work he's ever done."
According to the film-production site OnLocationVacations.com, the movie shot in October and November throughout New York City and at Long Island locations including Bayville Avenue near Soundside Beach Park in Bayville; Glen Cove and Old Country roads in Carle Place; Saratoga and Austin boulevards in Island Park; Ranch and Abbey lanes and Division Avenue in Levittown; Harbor Hill Road and Elm Drive in Roslyn; and at Nassau Supreme Court in Mineola.