A team of local barbers, celebrities, executives, actors and video technicians walk into a barbershop. While that may sound like the setup for an alluring joke punchline, this really did happen in Newtown recently so a television commercial could be created for U.S. vehicle service plan company CarShield.
"This (endeavor) brought big icons to our town. The local support we received was amazing. Everyone's been kind to mention it and be excited for us. We're so proud this commercial filmed in Newtown, and that we're all able to have fun with it. We just wanted everything to be perfect," says Tracey Bowen Tobin, co-owner of Bowen's Barber Shop -- the now-famous 26 Richboro Road location for producing the commercial.
"It was certainly a 'wow' moment, thinking this is all happening in Newtown. Definitely a great, great moment," she adds.
At press time, the 30-second commercial was expected to be broadcasting nationally by early June.
When Newtown area residents and business owners saw mysterious tents, extra police presence and a fake street created in front of the barbershop door, it sure seemed something different was happening. But when the likes of celebrities -- actor/rapper Tracy Lauren Marrow (aka Ice-T); former professional basketball athlete Allen "Al" Iverson (aka The Answer or AI); recording artist/producer and songwriter Ellis Williams (aka Mr. Biggs); and American retired professional wrestler Richard Morgan Fliehr (aka Ric 'Nature Boy' Flair) -- arrived, everyone knew something dynamic was occurring.
"The celebrities were really into it, talking freely within the shop, and were all big fans of each other. They enjoyed eating locally, and eventually were chatting with local fans," reveals Tracey.
She says the commercial came about because the perfect storm happened in which her career worlds collided. "I spent 10 years in TV production, being on big sets in New York or Los Angeles. Then I transitioned back home to help manage and operate our family's barbershop. I was still doing some men's grooming on the side for TV, working with celebrities like Jimmy Kimmel and Snoop Dogg," she says.
Entering into the picture was Ken Barbet, a Yardley resident and decade-long customer of Bowen's Barber Shop, who is founder/senior director and creative director at Shadowbox Pictures, a boutique production company.
Tracey says Ken envisioned creating the commercial in the authentic setting of a barbershop, and she was "all in," happy to be part of it.
"It was a really big deal for CarShield, as well. Several of their top executives flew out to witness it," she adds.
She says everyone was a pleasure to be around, and they were able to maintain a nice, calm environment, despite all of the excitement brewing. The staff at local restaurant Vecchia Osteria provided 150 meals to the crew over the course of the three-day filming. Some tasty delectables from nearby Dunkin Donuts made their way onto the set as well.
"Of course, now many people are asking which barbershop chair that each of the celebrities sat in. I may have to get signs to designate each chair," Tracey quips.