While the East End has long been a popular backdrop for photo spreads in catalogs and magazines, film and television shoots have historically been relatively rare, considering the plethora of scenic locations and impressive houses less than a hundred miles from New York in the Hamptons and on the North Fork.
But filming here picked up dramatically in recent years, ever since New York State bumped its film production tax credit from 10 percent to 30 percent in April 2008. There was an immediate jump in the number of East End projects, and this year the local film and television business started hitting its stride, even though tying a project to “the Hamptons” in one way or another has proved to be no guarantee of success.
One glaring example of the disconnect is the failed NBC pilot “Beach Lane” starring Matthew Broderick, which was conceptually “set” in the Hamptons, although no filming was actually done on the East End.
Most recently, a week-long shoot for “Something Borrowed” wrapped up in Water Mill on Saturday. Production on the film that is set in the city and the Hamptons started in April in Manhattan.
Based on the Emily Giffin novel of the same name, “Something Borrowed” is directed by Luke Greenfield and stars Ginnifer Goodwin of “He’s Just Not That Into You” as a Manhattan attorney who becomes involved with her best friend’s fiancé. Kate Hudson plays the best friend and Colin Egglesfield, of “All My Children” and the new “Melrose Place,” plays the fiancé.
“Something Borrowed” also stars Steve Howey of “Reba” and John Krasinki of “The Office.”
Alcon Entertainment also picked up the rights to the novel’s sequel, “Something Blue,” so if “Something Borrowed” is a hit Ms. Hudson may be back in the Hamptons in a year or two.
Nancy Grigor, the owner and president of Hamptons Locations, Inc. in Amagansett, a location scouting service for photo and motion picture shoots, found the house in Water Mill for “Something Borrowed,” an oceanfront home on Flying Point Road.
“The problem that you have here in the Hamptons, especially Southampton, is they don’t allow filming between Memorial Day and Labor Day,” noted Ms. Grigor during an interview Monday. She said productions can film on private property, but they need permits to use any public streets, beaches or parking lots. She pointed out that though “Something Borrowed” was filming at a private home, the production needed to use the parking lot at Flying Point beach for all the equipment trucks and cars for cast and crew. While not a problem in mid May, staging areas become an issue when the beach season begins.
“The people that come here to use our beaches and our facilities would be angry if we bumped them out of their parking areas,” Ms. Grigor said, adding that the cost of renting motel rooms at summer rates is also a deterrent for production companies.
Another popular novel set on the East End will be adapted for the screen soon. Melissa de la Cruz’s 2004 teen novel “The Au Pairs,” about three girls from different socioeconomic backgrounds who take summer jobs as au pairs in the Hamptons, will be directed by R.J. Cutler, a documentary filmmaker taking his first crack at a fiction feature film.
Warner Bros. Pictures bought the film rights to “The Au Pairs” back in 2006. The film will be produced by Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films and Alloy Entertainment. The cast has yet to be announced.
It’s not clear yet whether or not “Au Pairs” will actually film on location in the Hamptons, or when. There are three more books in the series, so if Warner Bros. does decide to film in the real spot, rather than faking the East End someplace else, the company could have cameras here for years to come.
In April, there was a two-day shoot for “Almost in Love” at a Lily Pond Lane beach house in East Hampton. The film about a romantic triangle written and directed by Sam Neave consists of two 45-minute takes, set 18 months apart. The cast includes, among others, Alan Cumming, Alex Karpovsky, Marjan Neshat, Gary Wilmes, and Katherine Waterston.
It was Ms. Waterston’s second time on the South Fork for a film this spring. She was also cast in “Enter Nowhere,” an independent feature-length film shot exclusively in the Hamptons. The cast for that film also includes Sara Paxton, Scott Eastwood, Shaun Sipos, Christopher Denham, Leigh Lezark and Jesse J. Perez. It was written by Shawn Christensen and Jason Dolan and produced by Dallas Sonnier and director Jack Heller of Caliber Media Co. in Los Angeles.
On June 6, screenwriter Emiko Soekawa’s Screen Actors Guild short film “The Retreat” will begin shooting in Southold. The short is about three unfulfilled women with empty careers who go on a retreat during which they “learn through shared experience that true peace is gained via introspection, empathy, and the ability to finally admit their heart’s desires,” according to the film’s website.
Ms. Soekawa stars in the film along with Oneca Hitchman and director Chelsea Marino. The women met while working as background actors for a film in New York and came up with the idea for “The Retreat” together. They are also co-producing the film with Robert von Dassanowsky.
On the television front, Matthew Broderick, a part-time East End resident with his wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, starred in the “Beach Lane” sitcom pilot, about an acclaimed journalist hired to help run a fictional struggling Hamptons newspaper. NBC, which ordered the pilot, declined to pick up “Beach Lane,” which was shot in a studio far from the East End.
Back in September, some shots were filmed in Southampton Village near Coopers Beach for Ms. Parker’s new film, “Sex and the City 2,” which opened this week.
The “Beach Lane” pilot was written by “NewsRadio” scribe Paul Simms, who was set to serve as executive producer on the series along with “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” producers Marci Klein and Lorne Michaels. Mr. Broderick, who is seldom seen on television save for “Ferris Bueller” airings and at awards shows, last appeared on the small screen in “30 Rock,” guest starring as Bush administration appointee Cooter Burger.
The “Beach Lane” pilot also starred Kristen Johnston of “3rd Rock From the Sun.”
“Beach Lane” would have been the second Universal Media Studios series based on life in the Hamptons. Last summer its subsidiary, Universal Cable Productions, added “Royal Pains” to the USA network lineup. Much of the pilot of “Royal Pains,” an hour-long dramedy about a concierge doctor, was shot in and around Southampton Village, Bridgehampton and elsewhere on the South Fork. For the most part, the rest of the 12-episode season was shot in a Brooklyn studio or on location in upscale parts of Nassau County and western Suffolk County, which stood in for the East End.
USA has ordered another 18 episodes of “Royal Pains,” and season two premieres Thursday, June 3.
The Fonz himself, Henry Winkler, will join the cast this season in a recurring role, playing the father of main characters Dr. Hank Lawson and Evan Lawson, played by Mark Feuerstein and Paulo Costanzo, respectively. Christine Ebersole reprises her role as Ms. Newburg, a high-society matron, and Mary Lynn Rajskub of “24” will play her daughter.
So far for this season, USA has called upon locals to be extras in a poolside yoga class scene and at an estate party on Meadow Lane in Southampton. Real golfers from the East End were invited to the Lawrence Golf Club on May 17 to give the illusion that the Nassau County golf course is really in the Hamptons.
“Royal Pains” will also be filming during the first week of June at Pellegrini Vineyards in Cutchogue.
Reality television has also left its footprints on the East End.
The Hamptons was recently featured in MTV’s documentary-style series “True Life.” The episode, which was shot last summer, premiered in April. It featured a 24-year-old aspiring gossip blogger from Harlem weekending in the Hamptons, and a 24-year-old Hampton Bays native trying to make enough money over the summer at restaurants and caterers so he can afford to move to California. His plan gets off to a bad start when he quits his job at Nello Summertime’s in Southampton Village mid-shift.
Recognizable sites MTV visited include Neptune Beach Club in Hampton Bays, the Wilzig castle in Water Mill, the Southampton Inn and Bridgehampton Polo Club.
Hamptons Productions, a local film and television production company, is working with New York City production company Embassy Row to film on the South Fork in early August for “Brunch at Bobby’s.” Starring Bobby Flay, the new show will appear on the Food Network’s forthcoming spin-off cable station, The Cooking Channel.
And a so-far unnamed major network is casting for a reality “socialite show” in the Hamptons this summer.
The network is looking for 21- to 35-year-olds from prominent families with ties to the Hamptons, especially those with a privileged lifestyle and boarding school background, according to a casting call.
The rumor mill has it that the casting call is for the second season of “High Society.” The first season was set in New York City, but star Tinsley Mortimer has confirmed that the show may move to the East End for season two.
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