New York New York-- the greatest location in the world...
Posted by Dad in Fred's great threadNew York, a City Unspoiled. Wait, New York?
By Sam Roberts, The New York Times - March 23, 2009
Imagine you're scouting locations for a television series, a biblical allegory that unfolds in a contemporary monarchy. The script calls for a clean, new capital unspoiled by time or litter, modern with a touch of Renaissance Revival, a city to make you believe in magic.
Would you ever choose New York City?
The production team from NBC Universal did, and its series premiered last week. It's called Kings appropriately enough, since the dazzling new capital city is inaugurated from the steps of the Brooklyn Museum in Kings County (through the miracle of television, the museum fronts on Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan).
Virtually every other shot, real or digitally enhanced, is also filmed in New York.
The fictional capital's skyline was sanitized to remove the most familiar icons, like the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. A version of the Freedom Tower has been digitally inserted in Midtown.
It's taking place in a present-day world, said Paul Kramer, the location manager for the show. Just not our present-day world.
In the series, a battle between the good-guy Gilboans and the nettlesome Gaths is fought on a vacant swath of the Rockaway Peninsula. That's where giant earth movers have finally been sculpting a long-barren urban renewal site for a sprawling development, Arverne by the Sea.
Even the bucolic opening scene that evokes Middle America is actually the Queens County Farm Museum in Floral Park.
If you don't look across Little Neck Parkway you could be in Kansas, Mr. Kramer said.
Kansas, or Canada, might be less expensive places to shoot a television show. Why a fictional version of New York?
We were trying to create a city where you could believe a monarchy existed, explained Michael Green, the creator of Kings and a native New Yorker. It needed the gravitas and the magic that New York brings to it.
The juxtaposition of the premiere of Kings, a mosaic of incandescent New York settings, and the Broadway opening last week of a wildly exuberant revival of West Side Story, set in an inevitably grim slum near where Lincoln Center now stands, was a stunning reminder of what a very different city this was a half century ago when the musical first opened.
The original rehearsal studio where the choreographer Jerome Robbins posted a news clipping about a local gang killing and exhorted the cast, Read this; this is your life, was on West 56th Street. That is practically around the corner from the Time Warner Center where the Allen Room in Rose Hall of Jazz at Lincoln Center now provides a five-story panoramic vista of Central Park.
In Kings, the Allen Room becomes Unity Hall, where the magisterial, eyeball-bulging Ian McShane convenes his royal cabinet. (An almost life-size version of the Allen Room was also recreated for the film in a studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.)
Mr. McShane's fictional capital city of Shiloh, Alessandra Stanley wrote in The New York Times, looks like a rebuilt Manhattan, post-Armageddon.
And, in a way, it is.
Other locations for Kings, including the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and the Apthorp apartment building on the Upper West Side, are lovingly restored century-old icons of a Gilded Age that succeeded civil war and financial panics.
More recently, the Time Warner Center was not only the first major building completed in Manhattan after 9/11, but revived a derelict site that had languished for years.
For nearly a century, utopian and apocalyptic epic films have envisioned a futuristic New York. (Think Metropolis, The Fifth Element and last year's Cloverfield, in which the Time Warner Center collapses on itself.)
What distinguishes Kings, at least so far, is its homage to the contemporary city and, by extension, to a political climate that, through tax credits for film-making and an economic rebirth, have evoked a local Renaissance Revival that might have seemed inconceivable 15 years ago, much less in the mid-1950s when West Side Story first opened on Broadway.
It took the film word a little bit of time to catch up, said James Sanders, the author of Celluloid Skyline, about New York and the movies, but now there's a popular sense of a millennial New York a clean, efficient, safe place.
I can say with almost total assuredness, Mr. Sanders said of the new television series, that if the film were made 15 years ago, it would have been shot in Toronto.http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/23/ny...ref=television