Shot-in-Alpharetta comedy ‘The Joneses’ shops for an audience


If you’ve ever stood outside a Phipps Plaza boutique window display and secretly coveted the glittering merchandise displayed under all that perfect lighting, you’ll probably laugh — and squirm — your way through “The Joneses” when it opens in theaters Friday.

In the fall of 2008, stars Demi Moore and David Duchovny, along with director Derrick Borte took over a McMansion-dotted Alpharetta subdivision for 32 days to shoot the black comedy aimed at our rampant possession addictions.

“We’re all consumers,” Borte told Intel recently on a return trip to Atlanta. “Hopefully, the theme will strike a chord with everyone. None of us are immune to the marketing all around us every day.”

Cribbing an idea from a TV news magazine report on stealth marketing, Borte took the idea to an outrageous extreme to create the fictitious LifeImage, a company that relocates its sales reps into subdivisions across America, posing as fake families in order to sell you their luxe lifestyles.

As in “keeping up with…”

Moore plays Kate, a shark-like leading sales rep for LifeImage and Duchovny is the green new recruit posing as Mr. Jones. Actors Amber Heard and Ben Hollingsworth play the pair’s teen age offspring, two  hilariously complicated siblings in sales.

Soon, the Joneses’ new neighbors, class mates, golfing buddies are all dying to have the family’s latest gadgets, automobiles, flash-frozen sushi and yes, even a Toto $10,000 toilet that blow dries your bum.

But Borte made that up for the film, right?

“Actually, no!” Borte says, laughing. “The Toto is totally real. Scary but real.”

In that Alpharetta neighborhood, Borte also shot “The Joneses” memorable climax, a swimming pool scene destined to rank right up there beside “Sunset Boulevard.”

And while we won’t give away the details here, let’s just say we have a whole new respect for “The Joneses” actor Gary Cole.

“Gary just went for it,” Borte recalls. “He gave us everything in that scene. The temperature was in the 30s and we had that pool jacked up to the 90s and we had a scuba tank hooked up. I knew visually exactly what I wanted and we were able to capture it beautifully, thanks to Gary’s commitment.”

Also captured, um,  beautifully in the film?

Cameos by “Real Housewives of Atlanta” cast members Kim Zolciak and Sheree Whitfield in a party scene.

Cracked Borte: “One of the actors who shall remain nameless thought it would be fun to use them as extras. I thought, ‘Sure, why not.’ I didn’t realize one of them had a platinum wig that I’d have to then try and photograph!”

To see “The Joneses” trailer: click here.