Dan Gross: Van Der Beeks enjoy the city

"I LOVE PHILLY. It's got everything you want in a big city but still feels like your hometown," says James Van Der Beek, who's been here for several weeks shooting "Backwards," an indie film about rowing and romance.

The former "Dawson's Creek" star says he and wife Kimberly have been seeing houses in the suburbs "and thinking, hey, we might want to move out here someday."

We spoke with the couple at Thursday's Best of Philly party hosted by Philadelphia magazine at the new event space Vie (600 N. Broad), where they were guests of Kimberly's friend, local attorney and photographer Lauren Richmond.

Van Der Beek, who grew up a Yankees fan in Connecticut, said he enjoyed a Phillies/Padres game and called the Phillie Phanatic "One hell of a mascot."

"I go to Dodgers games; we don't really have a mascot. We also don't really have financing," he joked about the bankrupt ballclub.

We asked the actor - who has been called Dawson by fans so long that it doesn't faze him - whether anyone has ever shouted "I don't want your life," at him, as his "Varsity Blues" character told his father.

"It's happened more than a few times. It's usually out of love, or at least that's what I tell myself," Van Der Beek replied.

How about when Paula Cole's "I Don't Want to Wait," the "Dawson's Creek" theme comes on somewhere, does Van Der Beek feel all eyes on him? "Every once in a while I'll be somewhere odd like the gym and inevitably some huge buff dude will come up and be like 'Hey, man, it's your song.' "

Van Der Beek, Kimberly (to whom our photo does not do justice) and their 10-month-old daughter, Olivia, who, it turns out, is a big fan of her Nap Nanny, a baby-resting pillow created by Comcast SportsNet's Leslie Gudel, will be in the area for another week or so as he wraps shooting of "Backwards."

The film was written by, and co-stars, Haverford-native actress Sarah Megan Thomas It's being directed by Ben Hickernell, whose last film, "Lebanon, PA," was just released on DVD and on iTUnes.


Pence a persistent caller

"Dear 97.5 in Philly, your phone line is busy every time I call," Tweeted Hunter Pence Saturday morning when he couldn't get through to 97.5 The Fanatic hosts Jon Marks and Sean Brace for an interview they had scheduled. Turns out too many people were calling in to discuss the new Phillies outfielder and the lines were busy. He got on minutes later.


Stars here for AIDS ride

"Memphis Beat" star Jason Lee joins model Tyson Beckford from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at Kiehl's (18th & Walnut) before departing in the Kiehl's LifeRide for amfAR, an AIDS-research organization, that begins its ride from the store. Lee, also known from "My Name is Earl," Kevin Smith's "Mallrats" and "Chasing Amy," replaces Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who had been scheduled to participate. Former "Top Chef" contestant Jennifer Carroll, who runs the Ritz-Carlton's 10 Arts by Eric Ripert, will host the launch party for the ride, which is expected to raise at least $100,000 for amFAR.

Kiehl's president, Chris Salgardo, and ESPN host Alain de Cadenet lead the motorcycle ride. For more info, visit amfar.org.


Visit PhillyGossip.com for Dan's latest updates or follow PhillyGossip on Twitter. Have a tip? Call 215-854-5963, or email grossd@phillynews.com. For recent columns, visit www.philly.com/DanGross.