Jennifer Garner & Kevin Costner At
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Hollywood showed lots of affection for Cleveland at Monday night’s premiere of Lionsgate’s Cleveland-set “Draft Day” at the Regency Village.

“I loved being in Cleveland,” Jennifer Garner asserted at the post-screening bash, set up on a mock football field with bleachers, goalposts and Cleveland Browns highlights. “People are so real and so nice.”

“We were there during this time of year, so it wasn’t the tough winter weather and I love towns like Cleveland with stadiums in town, so you can sneak out during work to go see a game,” Kevin Costner mused.

Costner allowed that in real life, he’s as well-schooled in pro football as his “Draft Day” character, the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. “Yes, I do know that much about football,” he added.

Screenwriter Rajiv Joseph admitted that he had not planned to set the film in Cleveland.

“I’m a huge Browns fan and I couldn’t write dispassionately about the team, so we set the film in Buffalo,” he explained. “Then the producers set it in Cleveland anyhow because of incentives.”

Joseph’s co-writer Scott Rothman admitted that he was amazed at the scale of the film, complete with the NFL’s blessing and access to archival footage. “We never really expected the film to get made; when we started working, we thought this was going to be very small without the NFL getting involved,”  he added.

Director Ivan Reitman said that he made the film for those who know little about football.

“Our idea all along was to make a film for people who aren’t football fans, so it’s gratifying to hear people say that they don’t know anything about football but they  really like the film,” Reitman noted. “At least, that’s what they’re telling me tonight.”

“Draft Day” hits theaters Friday.

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