EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
John McGivern, Wisconsin Public Television, casts a line in Menekaunee Harbor last July with Aric Chaltry (center) and Jon Kakuk. McGivern’s production crew was filming in Marinette for an upcoming episode of “Around the Corner with John McGivern” on PBS.
EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard

John McGivern, Wisconsin Public Television, casts a line in Menekaunee Harbor last July with Aric Chaltry (center) and Jon Kakuk. McGivern’s production crew was filming in Marinette for an upcoming episode of “Around the Corner with John McGivern” on PBS.

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MARINETTE—With only 26 minutes and 46 seconds, how does one accurately convey the essence and uniqueness that imbues an entire city like Marinette with character, a city that sits north of Green Bay, where some might say the deer far outnumber the people. 

“What’s worth seeing north of Green Bay?” they might ask.

Something to answer that question arrives in Marinette, next week Tuesday, Feb. 18 when Emmy-winning actor John McGivern returns to the city to attend a free community screening of “Around the Corner with John McGivern: Marinette.” Produced by Milwaukee PBS, the hit PBS television show explores the ways Wisconsinites live, work and play in their unique communities. 

According to Executive Director of the Marinette-Menominee Area Chamber of Commerce Jacque Boudreau, the work that the show’s crew put into revealing what lies north of Green Bay began as far back as April 2019. That month, Boudreau receive a call from the show’s Producer, Lois Maurer. Maurer made inquiries into the tastes, sights, sounds, people, businesses, recreation and more that serve as destinations in Marinette.

Maurer explained to Boudreau that the show’s production team always seeks out the unique and unusual in a community. At one point during that initial conversation, Boudreau recalled that Maurer asked, “Do you think (Marinette) has enough to fill a show?” 

In her response, Boudreau put the emphasis on one word:

“Absolutely,” she told Maurer. “(Marinette) is very diverse. There is way more up here than you think …”

She pointed out the warships manufactured at Fincantieri Marinette Marine. And right next to those ships, the Walleye anglers cast their lines into the Menominee River. Marinette has small businesses and medium-sized business. It has parks, interesting history and people, and everything one might desire from the great outdoors.  

“I always say that if you say ‘there is nothing to do in this community’ then you aren’t looking,” Boudreau said. “Whatever you want to do, I am pretty sure you can find it here.” 

Following that phone call, Maurer and her scouting crew made an advance reconnaissance into Marinette territory, seeking out those potential attractions that would fill 26 minutes and 46 seconds with interesting segments about Marinette. They compiled a list between 25 and 30 area charms and then narrowed that list down to fit the show’s approximate 9-segment layout. 

Long story short, the production crew of “Around the Corner” ironed out a shooting schedule and then trucked up to Marinette, toting video cameras and other equipment. They spent a few days last July filming segments for the episode.

“When I came for the site survey, Jacque at the Chamber was fantastic,” Maurer said in a statement provide to the EagleHerald. “And we went through Zinger’s (Coffee & Tea) drive thru twice in two hours! ... In fact, nothing in Marinette was disappointing — we loved it!”  

A VIBRANT GEM ON THE MAP

Perhaps the natural question that Marinette residents who regularly watch the show — and even those who do not — might want answered is, what places, faces, events and curiosities the show’s crew found to fill those 26 minutes. After a little footwork, the EagleHerald may offer a few clues to that answer, base on places the crew visited. 

Boudreau explained that during the scouting process, before the July production began, Maurer posed another question that queried about the dynamic “cast of characters” that represent the lively fixtures of Marinette’s aura. Several names emerged and one of the first to roll off Boudreau’s lips was Chuck Finnessy, owner of Micky-Lu’s BBQ.

“It was really cool when I found out that John McGivern was coming (to Mickey-Lu’s),” Finnessy said.

For the many patrons of Micky-Lu’s BBQ — patrons that now include McGivern and the show’s crew – one answer to the inquiry about the cool things, the good things, the unique and tasty things that lie north of Green Bay, comes between the two halves of a genuine hard roll, fired up over a hot grill at the classic American roadside burger joint.

Built in 1941, Mickey-Lu’s remains a doorway into the history of American diners. As an official historical structure in Marinette, it serves as a destination point for locals and out-of-towners alike. McGivern interviewed Finnessy and sampled the diner’s fare, and if his memory recalls accurately, Finnessy reported that McGivern enjoyed a Mickey-Lu’s double cheeseburger during that visit. 

However, Finnessy, who watches “Around the Corner,” pointed out that the opportunity created for Marinette by its presence on the show stems from more than just being a city where one can find a good burger at a historically unique diner.

“(The show) puts Marinette on the map,” he said. “People will see (Marinette) as a fun place to be … and that there are things north of Green Bay.”

Another, face one might expect to see in the Marinette episode resides across town, just off Main Street at the 1393 Lounge Martini & Dessert Bar located inside the M&M Victorian Inn. Owner of both the 1393 and the Victorian Inn, Jean Moore hosted the crew for filming one evening at the bar.

Inside, elegant and retro style of furnishings and lighting makes the Lounge Martini & Desert Bar an eclectic and unexpected niche in Marinette. One that — according to Moore — McGivern found fascinating. Moore also owns the Lauerman House Inn on Riverside Avenue.

She echoed Finnessy’s words about what such a show can do for Marinette.

“I watch the show,” Moore said. “It shows that Marinette is not just a drive-by town, that people come here and it becomes a destination … I could tell you so many interesting stories because I have had so many people stay here, (at the inn and the bar). “

For the full Marinette flavor, you will have to watch the show. However, from what she has seen so far, Bourdreau suspects the McGivern crew successfully captured the city’s essence, and might even reveal a few tidbits of history or other features about which even local Marinette residents know nothing.

“I think they got a really good flavor (of Marinette),” Boudreau said. “They got industry. They got art. They got food. They got outdoor sports …I think that the show is going to be great … and I hope it is going to bring an appreciation to the Marinette community.  We really do have a lot of cool stuff here. We really do live in a beautiful area and we really do have a lot of educational and employment opportunities.”