Russo brothers: Cleveland natives who love their hometown

6:33 PM, Jul 23, 2013   |    comments
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A unique letter showed up in my WKYC station mailbox.

It would not be unusual for someone to send information on a family member's accomplishment, however, this came from the parents of two Hollywood directors talking about their sons -- Joe and Anthony Russo.

What I found endearing was the fact that these two Cleveland natives were directing "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" in their hometown.

Although they are backed by a major Hollywood studio with a public relations department, it was their mother and father who made sure WKYC knew the background on their careers.

There was no bragging.  It was information to help with any coverage the Hollywood production was sure to get in Cleveland.

Their accomplishments are extensive.

The Russo brothers won an Emmy for directing the pilot of "Arrested Development." They added to their respected reputations by directing the pilot episodes of "Community," "Happy Endings" and "Lucky."

Their love for Cleveland is so deep that the Russos have now filmed three of their four movies here.

The last day of filming for Captain America wrapped at 3:30 a.m. here in Cleveland. Anthony Russo was on a plane back to los Angeles within a couple of hours to oversee shooting.

Although there were plans for a family dinner, Joe Russo agreed to an interview.

We sat in his sister's backyard while his daughter played with her cousins who live in Cleveland. Hollywood has not jaded nor deeply altered the Russos. Their love of Cleveland firmly intact.

"We can't thank Clevelanders enough for their support," said Joe Russo. "It was the best experience I ever had filming outside of Los Angeles."

Bringing jobs to Cleveland is a priority for the brothers.

"It's the greatest feeling walking down the street when someone walks up and shakes your hand and says thank you for being here and working here," he said.

The directors were well aware that filming had its critics, especially when it came to the West Shoreway shutdown. They hope that -- long term -- the positives of having a local production outweighed the inconveniences.

The filming pumped at least $40 million into the local economy, providing paychecks to hundreds of crew members and thousands of extras.

Hotels, restaurants, bars, rental car agencies and local businesses all got a boost.

The Russos not only direct but also write and produce. Their ultimate goal is to bring more production to Cleveland. The pair has already written television and movie scripts based in Cleveland.

"At the end of the day, I love this town. My brother and I are sons of Cleveland. It's been a dream of ours to get production here," said Joe.  

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