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Byline: Steven Rea
PHILADELPHIA _ For a movie steeped in the film and literary traditions of the American South, the origins of its three principals _ stars John Travolta and Scarlett Johansson, and writer-director Shainee Gabel _ couldn't be farther from bayou country. Travolta, who plays the title character in "A Love Song for Bobby Long, hails from Englewood, N.J. Johansson, who plays the estranged daughter of a woman who was close to the rumpled, bathrobe-clad Long, was born and raised in Manhattan.
And Gabel comes from this area. She grew up in Cherry Hill, where she lived with her mother. Her father lived across the river in Philadelphia. She attended Rutgers University in New Brunswick, and even lived for a time in Travolta's hometown.
"Yup, we're all Northerners," she says with a laugh. Gabel, who co-directed the 1997 documentary "Anthem," makes her feature directing debut with "Bobby Long," which opened Friday at the Ritz at the Bourse and Ritz Sixteen/NJ.
So, of course, her film is set in New Orleans. "Long …