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HBO filming new series in White Pines

Parts of park, some roads will close during filming

MOUNT MORRIS – A portion of U.S. Route 52 and nearby roads will be closed, starting today, and parts of White Pines State Park will be off limits most of next week, while HBO films its new series “Lovecraft Country.”

“We chose that area for its topography ... we needed something with an open landscape,” location manager Wes Hagan said. “We thought it would work well with the show, and that’s why we’re here.”

The crew will be coming to Ogle County from Chicago, where they were filming scenes in the Pilsen neighborhood in the Lower West Side.

“Lovecraft Country” is a horror drama set in the 1950s about a black man, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner, who drives across the country searching for his missing father with his Uncle George – publisher of “The Safe Negro Travel Guide” – and his childhood friend Letitia, encountering racism and the evils of Jim Crow America as well as malevolent spirits.

According to a letter sent to about a half a dozen residents by HBO and Random Productions location managers Hagan and Greg Chiodo:

Route 52 west of Polo from West Canada Road to Freeport Road, and West Stewart Road from North Eagle Creek Road to Route 52, will be closed from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Monday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday while scenes are being shot on Canada and at the intersection of West Stewart and Brookville roads.

In addition, Brookville Road at West Stewart and West Canada at North Eagle Creek will be closed from about 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and Monday.

Only area residents will be allowed access during those times.

White Pines Inn, the privately run restaurant and gift shop inside the park that opens at 8 a.m., will be closed from 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 3 to 9 p.m. Friday, Illinois Department of Natural Resources said in a news release Thursday morning.

Grey Squirrel, Red Squirrel, Whispering Pines, Lookout, the accessible trail and a portion of Sunset trail, all on the Northeast section, ​also will be closed, but all other trails, picnic areas, shelters and the campground will remain open, the IDNR said in a news release Thursday afternoon.

The filming will last from about 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day, the letter said.

At the request of HBO, the IDNR refused to confirm the closure was for filming purposes, while the Illinois Department of Transportation would confirm only that a production company had taken out a permit to close Route 52 today through Monday.

“Lovecraft Country,” based on the 2016 novel by Matt Ruff, stars Jonathan Majors as Atticus Black, Courtney B. Vance as Uncle George, and Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Letticia. It’s produced by Jordan Peele, who wrote and directed the Oscar-winning horror film “Get Out,” and “Lost” creator J.J. Abrams, among others.

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