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Westchester Location Spotlight: The Belvedere Estate

The Belvedere EstateA private residence for nearly a century, the Belvedere Estate in Tarrytown recently opened its doors to film crews, and the response has been ecstatic. A grand French-style manor with a stucco façade set on 25 acres with enviable Hudson River views, Belvedere Estate tells a story of the gilded age of affluence in Westchester. Built as early as 1910, the estate was where guests like Amelia Earhart and Will Rogers once wined and dined.

Recently we had the opportunity to speak with Linda Fiorentino, who handles film and event inquiries for the estate, and here’s what she had to say about this unique venue:

What type of film activity have you seen since opening your doors to the public?

We were thrilled to welcome the cast and crew of “The Sinner” (NBC/Universal) in July 2017. The show’s stars were on site, Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman, so that was really exciting. Our first shoot demonstrated the flexibility of our property for productions. We were able to use some of our many rooms for green rooms and meeting rooms. They also needed a heavily wooded area, and seven of our 25 acres look like a forest. Bill Pullman’s character is seen coming out of our woods and looking at an estate in the distance. Scenes were also shot in the main mansion, the basement, and in the Agora House, which looks like a speakeasy lodge. It was really one-stop shopping for the shoot.

What’s the history of the estate?
The Belvedere was originally part of Philipsburg Manor, a 90,000-acre property and one of the richest landholdings in America. It was built by Florence and Casper Whitney and purchased in 1928 by Dr. Philip Gillette Cole, and renamed Zeeview. The house at Zeeview sat comfortably overlooking the Hudson River and the Tappan Zee. The Coles built several more buildings on the property, including the Agora House and the Studio. After Cole’s death, Samuel Bronfman of the Seagram’s whiskey family acquired the estate. The property was renamed Belvedere, after the Bronfmans’ main residence in Toronto. In 1972, the property was acquired by the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

How did you come to the attention of location managers?
We attended the Westchester County Film Office’s “On Location: Westchester” event last year, and I had the opportunity to meet several location scouts at the event. I also learned a great deal about marketing our property via e-mail and through social media. We started reaching out to location scouts, and word got around.

What’s unique about the property for film shoots?
The diversity of locations we offer in one setting really sets the Belvedere Estate apart. We have the grand manor home with its gorgeous rooms, period details, and vintage furnishings. We also have lush gardens and rustic outbuildings. Our acreage is expansive, and our views of the Tappan Zee can’t be beat. We also have a country road that winds around the property that offers staging opportunities.

What’s next for the Belvedere Estate?
We’re eager to welcome more productions to our beautiful location. We are film friendly, and we are offering special discounts to productions. To scout our location or inquire about availabilities, location managers can reach out to me directly by calling (914) 419-1013 or sending me an e-mail me at linda@thebelvedereestate.com.

Westchester County Gives Film the Royal Treatment, Part 2

We recently spotlighted several historic castles and estates that rival top tourist spots in Europe—Lyndhurst Mansion, Greystone Court, Castle on the Hudson, and Reid Castle. Westchester's castle collection doesn't end there. Here's Part Two of our tour of breathtaking historic sites that offer great potential for film shoots.

In addition to offering period details, expansive grounds, and spectacular water views, they all have one thing in common—they're gorgeous examples of the exquisite architectural details available in Westchester, just 30 minutes from New York City.

Alder ManorAlder Manor
Also known as the W. B. Thompson Mansion, Alder Manor is an early 20th-century, 72-room mansion designed in the Renaissance Revival architectural style. Alder Manor was listed on the National Register of Historic places in 1982. Large riverside estates were common in Yonkers at the turn of the century. Today, Alder Manor is one of the few to remain. After serving as a high school and then a junior college, it fell into neglect until it was acquired by an Irish American cultural organization. Today it boasts such charming details as marble floors, walnut and oak paneling, a rare English-style trompe-l'oeil ceiling, and an elaborate garden terrace. Movies such as "Mona Lisa Smile" and "A Beautiful Mind" shot scenes at Alder Manor. 
Whitby Castle Whitby Castle
Set on 126 acres in Rye, New York, and surrounded by the lush fairways of Rye Golf Course, Whitby Castle boasts manicured lawns, breathtaking views of Long Island Sound, and grand ballrooms and event spaces. Architect A.J. Davis designed the castle as a residence in 1852, and the building is said to contain stones from Whitby Abbey, a 13th-century ruin in North Yorkshire, England. Aside from its enviable location, the stately and luxurious 19th-century mansion has been impeccably maintained to preserve its historic detail.
Lenoir MansionLenoir Mansion
On the south end of Westchester County's 40-acre Lenoir Nature Preserve stands the Lenoir Mansion. The stark and stunning Lenoir Mansion has been a sought after film location for years. "A Beautiful Mind," starring Russell Crowe was filmed there, as were episodes of "Mr. Robot," (USA Network). The imposing stone façade of Lenoir Mansion was also the perfect location for an episode of "Sex in the City" (HBO), in which Carrie Bradshaw's (Sarah Jessica Parker) high-school ex-boyfriend (David Duchnovy) commits himself to a mental health facility.

Westchester County Gives Film The Royal Treatment, Part 1

For location managers, castle hunting for a film location might mean a trek north to Newport, RI, or a flight "across the pond" to the English countryside. But they need not go that far.

Only 30 minutes from Manhattan, and just a trip quick by car, train, or rail, tri-state location managers can have access to a robust portfolio of castles and grand estates In Westchester that lend a royal flair to film, commercial, and photography shoots.

Our gilded filmography is extensive. Whether setting the stage for outrageous wealth and privilege in "Reversal Of Fortune," or providing a lush backdrop for "A Winter's Tale," or offering the perfect locale for a prohibition era serial drama like "Boardwalk Empire," Westchester's architectural diversity is breathtaking.

Here we offer Part One of a two-part tour of some of Westchester County's most regal real estate—all fit for a king, and all film friendly:

Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, New YorkLyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, NY
Lyndhurst Mansions is perhaps Westchester's most well known castle, with its imposing Gothic Revival architecture and enviable perch overlooking the Hudson River. With priceless art, historical furniture, and stunning landscapes, it's no wonder it's a National Trust for Historic Preservation site. Lyndhurst boasts 12 buildings on 67 acres, and was originally built in 1838 as the home of William Paulding, Jr., who was the mayor of New York City in the 1820s. The home was later purchased by merchant George Merritt and eventually by the railroad tycoon Jay Gould.



Greystone Court in Yonkers, New York

Greystone Court in Yonkers, NY
Greystone Court features panoramic views of the Hudson River and 28 period rooms with 300 years of history. This gray granite castle has become a sought-after filming destination for an array of productions, notably, HBO's crime period drama, "Boardwalk Empire." According to its curator, many of the rooms in Greystone Court were imported in their entirety from 16th, 17th, and 18th century European mansions. The mansion is frequently used for fashion magazine shoots, and has been featured in scenes from CW's Gossip Girl, the feature films "Gods Behaving Badly" and "Mona Lisa Smile," and Beyonce's music video for her hit song, Irreplaceable.



Castle on the HudsonCastle on the Hudson
At the turn of the 20th century, long before it became a world-class destination for relaxing and romantic getaways, the Castle Hotel & Spa held a prominent place in Westchester County and New York City society. Originally known as "Carrollcliffe" and owned by General Howard Carroll, a well-respected newspaperman, playwright and businessman, it was built in two stages between 1897 and 1910. The finished castle boasted 45 rooms. In 1981, the town of Tarrytown designated The Castle a historic landmark. Between 1994 and 1996 the Castle was transformed into a luxury hotel with a gourmet restaurant, and meeting and event facilities.



Reid Castle, Manhattanville CollegeReid Castle, Manhattanville College
In 1888, Reid Castle, then called Ophir Farm, became the country estate of Whitelaw Reid, owner of The New York Tribune. On July 14, 1888, only a month before the Reids were scheduled to move in, a fire caused by a short circuit swept through the house. Within a few hours, the mansion was in ruins. Not discouraged, the Reids decided to rebuild on a greater and grander scale than before. Reid, who had lived in France while serving as U.S. Ambassador, and his wife, translated many of their experiences into Reid Castle's design and décor. When they returned in 1892 for the grand opening, the mansion – renamed Ophir Hall - was already acclaimed as a work of art. Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart, which had been located in New York City since 1841, purchased 250 acres of the estate in July 1949.

Westchester County Stars in a Flurry of Feature Films

Left to right: Merrill Streep, Stephen Spielberg, Tom Hanks. Filming The Post.A look at Westchester County's filmography reads like the syllabus of a film master class. "Marathon Man," starring Dustin Hoffman and Sir Laurence Olivier, shot at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation for that 1976 film; "Wall Street," starring Michael Douglas, shot here in 1986; and "The Departed," starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson, shot here in 2006.

This year, though, the steady trickle of feature films has turned into a mighty stream of activity. In fact, the county welcomed the "troika" of Hollywood directorial talent—Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Barry Levinson—to Westchester in 2017 to film their latest projects.

Westchester has consistently attracted some feature films and a lot of episodic television shows that keep coming back for multiple seasons, such as "Orange is the New Black," "Billions," "The Americans," and "Blacklist," to name a few. This year, though, there's been a big uptick in feature film activity that's adding even more production days to Westchester's tally.

In addition to Spielberg's "The Post," Scorsese's "The Irishman," and Barry Levinson's Joe Paterno film tentatively titled "Happy Valley," here is a list of feature films and high profile projects that filmed in Westchester County in 2017:

  • Ben Is Back: Director-Peter Hedges; starring Julia Roberts, Lucas Hedges
  • Land of Steady Habits: Director-Nicole Holfcenter; starring Ben Mendelsohn, Edie Falco
  • Most Likely to Murder: Director-Dan Gregor; starring Rachel Bloom
  • Escape at Dannemora: Director- Ben Stiller; starring Benicio Del Toro, Patricia Arquette
  • Who We Are Now: Director-Matthew Newton; starring Zachary Quinto
  • 311: Director-Spike Lee; starring John David Washington, Adam Driver
  • Maniac: Director-Cary Fukanaga; starring Emma Stone, Jonah Hill
  • Luce: Director-Julius Onah; starring Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer
  • Mapplethorpe: Director-Ondi Timoner; starring Matt Smith, Carolyn McCormick
  • Puzzle: Director-Marc Turtletaub; starring Kelly Macdonald, Irrfan Khan
  • Vulture Club: Director-Maryam Keshavarz; starring Susan Sarandon

And, coming in 2018 – Goldfinch: Director-John Crowley; starring Sarah Paulson and Ansel Elgort.

Looking ahead, 2018 is expected to be another great year in film for Westchester. Demand continues to grow, and the volume of scouting requests continues to rise every year—as more productions discover Westchester County, they'll want to come back again and again.

Photo credit: Niko Tavernise

Hollywood’s A-List Finds Its Home Away From Home at The Crowne Plaza

The Crowne PlazaThe hours are usually long on a production set. So, it’s not surprising that crews and talent alike prefer to spend their downtime in truly comfortable settings. In Westchester, the Hollywood A-List, busy filming here, has zeroed in on the Crowne Plaza White Plains where comfort, convenience, and amenities fit the bill. At the Crowne Plaza, their every request will be swiftly fulfilled.

The 402-room Crowne Plaza is a spacious venue by city standards, and offers some of the roomiest guest rooms in the county, according to General Manager Monika Henry. “We’re able to accommodate large crews, and one of our best features is that everything is within walking distance. The Westchester Mall is across the street; Mamaroneck Avenue with its great restaurants is just two blocks away; and we even have a Whole Foods nearby,” she notes. In addition, the Crowne Plaza offers 24-hour room service and Mix Bar, named best bar in Westchester County, right on the premises. The hotel also offers amenities like a gym, a pool, and plenty of parking for cars and large trucks.

The key to enticing the film industry, according to Henry, is being flexible and working to customize the experience.

“We recently had a film crew here and their caterer needed to wash equipment at night. We worked with them to use our kitchen to do that,” she says. “We’ll also make sure we have staff on hand to accommodate the crew’s needs when they come back late from shoots. Whether it’s having a certain kind coffee on hand, or a certain type of pillow or blanket. The idea is that we’ll support them so they can feel comfortable, rested, and ready to create their best work.”

The Crowne Plaza was tapped recently as a film location. “Sneaky Pete” (Amazon Video) took over the hotel, using its front desk, back entrance, and a suite to shoot several scenes. As a location, Henry notes that filming at the Crowne Plaza offers lots of aesthetic options: “We have access to luxurious suites, a dining room, and our bar, but we even have alleyways and a parking garage suitable for filming.”

The one thing Henry and her staff won’t do, though, is name drop when it comes to guests. Even with the flurry of feature film activity in White Plains this year, the hotel staff is tight lipped. “We provide complete anonymity to our guests, both past and present,” she notes. So if you’re a celebrity looking to enjoy Westchester outside the glare of the paparazzi, the Crowne Plaza is the perfect spot for you.

“The Post,” A 2017 Feature Film, Shot in Westchester, Scores Six Golden Globe Nominations

Steven Spielberg and film critic, Janet Maslin, at a preview screening of Spielberg’s new film, “The Post,” on Dec. 10 at The Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, New York. Photo Credit: Lynda Shenkman NewsWestchester residents have a special reason to tune in to the Golden Globes ceremony in January. One of 2017’s most celebrated films was shot right here in Westchester County, New York. Twentieth Century Fox and Amblin Entertainment’s “The Post,” a feature film chronicling the battle between journalists and the U.S. government over publishing the Pentagon Papers, racked up six nominations this year, including “Best Actor” for star Tom Hanks, “Best Actress” for lead Meryl Streep, and “Best Director” for Steven Spielberg. In addition, the film received nominations for “Original Score” and “Best Screenplay.” The Pentagon Papers detailed the trajectory of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. “The Post” features a mix of Westchester locations, including the SUNY Purchase campus and the City of White Plains.

“Seeing Westchester as a film backdrop is always a wonderful experience, and seeing ‘The Post’ receive this richly deserved attention is a thrill,” says Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino.  “We wish the cast and crew good luck at this year’s ceremony.” 

“The Post” was recently screened in Westchester County at the Jacob Burns Film Center on Sunday, Dec. 10. After the preview, Steven Spielberg participated in a Q&A with the JBFC Board President—and his longtime friend—Janet Maslin. Spielberg is also a JBFC board member.

This year’s nominees also include two critically acclaimed limited series that were shot in Westchester: “The Sinner” (USA), and “Mr. Robot” (USA). “The Sinner” was nominated for “Best Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television,” and its star, Jessica Biel, received a “Best Actress” nod. Christian Slater of “Mr. Robot” received a “Best Supporting Actor” nomination.

Westchester has become a sought after location for filming due to its close proximity to New York City and easy access by air, car, rail or bus; and a deep talent pool of location scouts, crew, and post- production facilities. Many films and episodic television shows shot in Westchester have received Golden Globe, Emmy, and Oscar nominations across a range of categories over the years. Westchester’s film activity continues to grow each year. According to a recent economic impact survey conducted by the Westchester County Tourism & Film office, the film and TV industry added more than $30 million to the Westchester County economy in 2016—a 67 percent increase since 2014.

The 2018 Emmy Awards, hosted by Seth Myers, will air live on NBC on Sunday, Jan. 7. Here is the list of Golden Globe nominations for shows filmed in Westchester:

Best Motion Picture – Drama
The Post

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Meryl Streep, The Post

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Tom Hanks, The Post

Best Director – Motion Picture
Steven Spielberg, The Post

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
The Post

Best Original Score – Motion Picture
The Post

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
The Sinner

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Jessica Biel, The Sinner

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Christian Slater, Mr. Robot

Photo Caption: Steven Spielberg and film critic, Janet Maslin, at a preview screening of Spielberg’s new film, “The Post,” on Dec. 10 at The Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, New York. Photo Credit: Lynda Shenkman

Film-Friendly White Plains, NY: The Secret to Its Film Success

White Plains Mayor Tom Roach with Keri Russell, star of “The Americans” (FX)White Plains has built an enviable filmography over the last couple of years with the help of Westchester County Tourism & Film, and County Executive Rob Astorino’s support of film activity in the county.

In 2017 alone, industry heavyweights like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and Steven Soderbergh filmed projects there. And, Emmy Award-winning shows like “Orange Is The New Black” and “The Americans” are White Plains regulars, using its streets, homes, and businesses for locations season after season.

The team behind White Plains’ film renaissance is Mayor Tom Roach and the City’s Special Projects Manager Jill Iannetta. Over the last few years, Roach and Iannetta have established White Plains’ reputation as a film-friendly municipality and local government, hotels, restaurants, and private homeowners have reaped the benefits.

Here they share how they’ve turned White Plains into the “Hollywood” of Westchester County.

Q: Why is White Plains so appealing to the film industry?

A: Tom Roach—First, we are within the zone (a half hour distance from Columbus Circle in NYC). Second, we offer so many different types of architecture—everything from new, modern buildings to locations that date back to pre-Revolutionary war. But the main reason is that we’ve established a professional process for reviewing proposals and a single point of contact for productions, should issues arise. We work hard to make sure things go smoothly for the film and for our residents and businesses. White Plains has always seen some level of film activity, but we didn’t think we were maximizing those benefits. Now we’re seeing a real uptick

Q: How did you maximize the impact of filming?

A: TR—We put the film function under the auspices of Jill Iannetta, and she serves as the one point of contact. We’ve worked collegially with Westchester County Film and the New York State Film Office. We maintain a virtual portfolio of private homes, businesses, and locations so it’s easy for location managers to access. We provide crews with menus for local restaurants and hotel info, and help guide them to local businesses.

A: Jill Iannetta—The crews usually use craft services during the day, but they’ll often spin off for private meetings or meals, or they’ll require hotel rooms. The second meal of the day is usually one they’ll get from a local restaurant or chain.

A: TR—The film community is small. They know each other and they talk to each other. So if they know that “yes” means “yes,” they are more likely to spread the word and come back again.

Q: How do residents and businesses feel about filming?

A: TR—The vast majority of people love it. They only get frustrated when they see film activity and we won’t divulge what it is. Our policy is to maintain confidentiality until the production is finished.

A: JI—The more we communicate with local residents, the smoother everything goes. We require that productions paper the neighborhoods with notices to minimize disruption. We’re also only a phone call away and are ready to step in if issues arise.

Q: How has filming benefitted White Plains financially?

A: JI—Our film permits are up 100% this year over last year, and for next year, we’ll see the same increase. Beyond the permits, we have hotels, restaurants, mom and pop businesses, and private homeowners who are also profiting.

A: TR—We also have non-profits, like churches and meeting spaces that benefit financially. We also generate revenue from permits, from parking at city properties, and for public services, like police.

Q: What are your most popular locations?

A: TR—Church Street plays well as Washington, DC. The Galleria has also seen a lot of filming. Stepinac High School was a location for a new show, “Rise,” that will air on NBC in January.

A: JI—For us it’s really about portfolio diversification. We’ve built personal relationships with location managers and when they’ve had good experiences, they come back again. We have so many different types of locations, and we bring that diversity to them depending on what they need.

Q: What’s the craziest request you’ve either said, “Yes” or “No” to?

A: TR—For Martin Scorsese’s new film, “The Irishman,” we let them do a scene with a huge car explosion. It was very carefully handled and we insisted that it happen at a decent hour. We recently had a request to land a helicopter in a residential neighborhood. That one was a “No.” We’re willing to work with productions, but we also need to balance that with the peace and safety of our residents.

Photo caption: White Plains Mayor Tom Roach with Keri Russell, star of “The Americans” (FX).

Filming In Westchester Homes: What Location Scouts and Homeowners Should Know

Andrea RaisfeldAre you scouting for the perfect home for a film shoot? Or, are you a homeowner who thinks your home has star quality? We recently spoke with Andrea Raisfeld, owner of Andrea Raisfeld Locations, about what makes a house a great location. Her answers may surprise you!

What makes a home film/shoot worthy?
AR: Good bones and good décor that’s not overly specific or over the top, and neutrality in wall color and furnishings. What makes a great location property is not necessarily the same qualities as a house that might get featured on Pinterest or in a shelter magazine. Remember, they are background locations, so they can’t overshadow the action, though of course the location gets chosen that helps tell the story. The most desired homes are within the “zone”—those located within a 30-mile radius from Columbus Circle. (Being outside the zone makes production costs higher due to union rules.) But, we do represent many homes outside the zone, as being in the zone is not a qualifier for every production.

 What’s hot right now?
Brownstones with traditional details and mid-century modern furniture are always very popular. Also, modern farmhouses with painted white floors, simple furniture, and good light.

What don’t location managers like?
Color. Color is a very personal thing and homes with colored walls don’t generally get selected for film shoots, it’s too distracting. Clutter. And quirky furniture…

What should homeowners know before they list their home?
Know that it’s intrusive and chaotic—at least in the first hours of a shoot day. If you’re someone who’s not comfortable with people being in your space, it’s not the right business for you.

How much can a homeowner earn by renting their home as a location?
Generally someone could earn about $3,000 per day for a print shoot, and between $5,000-$10,000 per day for a TV or movie shoot. That can go higher or lower based on the production budget and parameters. Some productions will even cover costs for a hotel or meals if you’ve been displaced for any length of time. One of the great benefits is that if you rent your house for no more than 14 days over the course of a year, that income is tax- free. Our most popular properties will see about 8-10 shoot days a year.

How did you get started in the home location business?
The inspiration came to me when I was on a run when I first moved in to my own Bedford neighborhood. As I was admiring all the gorgeous homes, I kept thinking, ‘This would make a great location; that would make a great location.’ By the time I got home, I decided to start my business. Being a former magazine editor and photographer’s wife, I already had a built-in client base!

What role do you play in the process?
My role is similar to an actor’s agent. Location managers give me their specifications, and I provide links to homes that match the requests. If a production is interested in a home, we facilitate follow up scouting and booking. We’ll collect the fee and the certificate of insurance for the homeowners. We guide the homeowners through the process to make it easier for them and the production. Fees for our services are paid by productions, not by the homeowners.

How can homeowners list their homes and how can location managers find a home in Westchester?
We do everything through our website, www.arlocations.com. Homeowners can give us info about their homes along with photos. We can instantly tell if your home will work as a location. Location managers and photographers can also reach us through our website to initiate a search. For homeowners, we always say that it’s like the New York Lottery—you’ve got to be in it to win it. So, let’s put it out there and see what we happens!

 For 20+ years, Andrea Raisfeld Locations has been a resource for location managers, producers, photographers, and stylists, offering access to 1,000+ homes throughout Westchester, New York City, the Hamptons, the Catskills, and Santorini, Greece.

Chic, Central, and Film-Friendly: It’s the Radisson Hotel New Rochelle

The Raddisson located in New Rochelle, NY “Nearly every movie script includes a hotel lobby scene,” said New York-based location manager Rob Striem at our recent “On Location Westchester” film production forum. “It’s a nightmare. Most hotels won’t shut down their lobby to honor a request like that!”

Yet, Mr. Striem and his colleagues will be pleased to know that a chic and centrally located boutique hotel in Westchester is up to that, and many other challenges. The Radisson Hotel in the heart of New Rochelle is drawing interest from production teams due to its sophisticated, modern décor, its convenient location (less than 15 miles from New York City) and—a rarity in an urban location—its abundant and free parking.

With its seasonal pool and striking views of the Long Island Sound, the Radisson offers many unique vantage points to help tell a film’s story. It also offers a break from the traditional Westchester hotel layout. “Our hotel is a single tower, which is unique in this area,” says Ms. Daroczy. Plush, jewel-toned couches are paired with creamy upholstered chairs and chrome accents to give the lobby a modern, Architectural Digest vibe.

The Radisson is the only full service hotel in New Rochelle, offering modern guest rooms that blend sleek lines with surprising details like tufted leather headboards and zebra-print easy chairs, and spa-like guest bathrooms. The hotel is also home to the popular restaurant, Noma Social, an upscale eatery and nightclub that’s a popular destination for Westchester’s see and be seen crowd.

Beyond its aesthetics, the Radisson has something even more important to offer: flexibility. Maura Daroczy, director of sales and marketing for the Radisson, experienced a film shoot where production needs changed dramatically while at another Westchester-based hotel, and uses that knowledge to make filming at the Radisson much easier.

“The shoot was for ‘Orange is the New Black,’” she notes. “Some of the hotel policies created limitations that required extra negotiation and compromises to make it work for the film crew.“ While the Radisson’s first priority is guest comfort, they are flexible enough to be able to accommodate film crews, too.” One sticking point with the OITNB shoot was the catering. “At the Radisson, we have no problem with productions using their own craft services,” says Ms. Daroczy. “Although they might pay a room rental fee, outside catering is not an issue.”

Parking woes also plague many film productions. “I’ve heard that productions will avoid New Rochelle due to lack of parking,” says Ms. Daroczy. The Radisson owns a 200-car parking lot, and a lot across the street from its tower, so parking is free and plentiful. Located just off route I95, the hotel is a quick walk from Metro North. The Radisson can also extend special discounted weekday room rates to film productions. On weekends, rates rise as the hotel accommodates multiple weddings.

About that famous “lobby scene” that ends up in nearly every movie script, Ms. Daroczy notes that the Radisson New Rochelle has several welcoming entrances for guests. Depending on the day and time, she says, she might be able to work something out. “I’m so happy to be at a hotel property where we have the flexibility to deal with requests like that,” she notes. Sounds like the Radisson New Rochelle is ready for its close up.

“Hamilton: Building America,” (History) on Location at Jay Heritage Center

Hamilton: "Building America"Founding Father forgotten no more! Alexander Hamilton is having a big moment. From books to Broadway to television, it seems like America can't get enough of Hamilton's history, and now everything Hamilton is new, fresh, and fascinating.

Westchester County recently played a starring role in the re-telling of Hamilton's story when Jay Heritage Center in Rye served as the location for the History's Channel's two-hour documentary, "Hamilton: Building America."

The riveting doc aired in June, and featured multiple locations within the beautiful, historic estate and grounds. Based on Ron Chernow's biography and narrated by Chernow, Tom Brokaw, and Maria Bartiromo, the documentary captures the amazing life and times of our nation's newly celebrated founding father, from his time at the US Mint and on Wall Street to the two-party political system and the enormous influence Hamilton had that still resonates today.

The crew of Peacock Productions, NBC Universal's production team, helped create an enjoyable and memorable shoot. Jay Heritage Center historians were impressed with their reverence for their site and knowledge about its history. A big plus? The crew's line director was a former resident of Larchmont.

According to Suzanne Clary, president of Jay Heritage Center, "It was a thrill to see them re-enact Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler's wedding at our mansion at the front portico, as well as Hamilton' s illicit romance with Maria Reynolds (also at the front portico)," she notes. "The infamous Hamilton-Burr duel took place right in the old orchard, too." Other areas that were utilized included the Jay meadow (George Washington encampment scene), drawing room (shots of Hamilton writing the Federalist Papers), dining room (shots of Burr looking out the window) and the rear veranda (Jefferson and Madison conferring).

Despite the political rancor we've grown accustomed to today, Ms. Clary notes that the duel reenactments were eye-opening. "One of the most remarkable moments was seeing the duel re-enacted and realizing how common an event this was during that era," she says. "We had just had Yale history professor Joanne Freeman present a lecture about 'Dirty Nasty Politics' and here it was being recreated in front of our eyes!"

Beyond the excitement of having film crews on site, one of the best aspects of film activity is the profit they generate. According to Ms. Clary, Jay Heritage Center earned $8,500 for the day's shoot, which went toward the restoration of the meadow. As Hamilton was our first Secretary of the Treasury, we're confident he would have been pleased to know he played a small part in raising funds to support such a treasured Westchester landmark!

Who Will Take Home an Emmy? 17 Nominations for TV Shows Shot in Westchester

AmericansCoincidental or causational—however you look at it, filming in Westchester County is a good thing. Just ask the actors, writers, cinematographers and more who were just nominated for the 69th annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

From “The Americans” and “Mr. Robot,” to “Orange Is The New Black,” shows that choose film-friendly Westchester County benefit from authentic locations that can reflect any time period and suit any genre. Location scouts flock here and bold face names enjoy filming here for many reasons.

“Westchester offers unique settings all within a short distance of New York City,” says Natasha Caputo, director of Westchester County Office of Tourism and Film. “We can accommodate productions of all sizes; and access is easy by air, car, rail or bus. We also offer a deep talent pool of location scouts, crew, and post production facilities.”

Film activity is a win-win for the county, too. Our recent economic impact survey shows that the film and TV industry added more than $30 million to the Westchester County economy in 2016—a 67 percent increase from 2014. The county received $500,000 in permit fee revenues in 2016; and municipalities collected over $700,000.

“Westchester’s film and TV industry is booming,” beams Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino. “The bottom line is that Westchester is a valuable and viable option for the film industry.”

This year, the Emmy Awards, hosted by Stephen Colbert, will air live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 5 p.m. PT. on CBS. Here is the list of Emmy nominations for shows filmed in Westchester:

Drama Actress
Keri Russell (“The Americans”)

Drama Actor
Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”)

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Uzo Aduba (“Orange Is the New Black”)

Writing for a Drama Series
Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields (“The Americans”)

Guest Actor in a Drama Series
BD Wong (“Mr. Robot”)

Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Becky Ann Baker (“Girls” — “Gummies”)

Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Alison Wright (“The Americans” — “The Soviet Division”)
Ann Dowd (“The Leftovers” — “The Most Powerful Man In The World (And His Identical Twin Brother)”)
Laverne Cox (“Orange is the New Black” — “Doctor Psycho”)

Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour)
Reed Morano (“Divorce”)

Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour)
Tod Campbell (Mr. Robot”)

Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Within a Scripted Program 
USA Network, Universal Cable Productions, Here Be Dragons, Esmail Corp. & Anonymous Content (“The Mr. Robot Virtual Reality Experience”)

 Stunt Coordination For a Drama Series, Limited Series Or Movie
Cort L. Hessler III (“The Blacklist”)
Christopher Place (“Blindspot”)
Norman Douglass (“Gotham”)
Thomas Mahoney, Matthew Wheelon Hunt, Alex Gitler, Sina San, Michael Capton, Jon Anastasiades, Ryan Bauer, Mark Anthony Nazal, Randy Little (“Gotham” — “Heavydirtysoul”)

Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour)
John W. Cook II, Bill Freesh, William Sarokin, Paul Drenning (“Mr. Robot”)

What to Know When Film Crews Roll in; How to Market Your Property

Location Managers Help Westchester Hotels Drive Film Business"Can we completely repaint this room and change all the lighting... do you have enough parking for six tractor trailers... know any good prop houses nearby?"

If you're considering hosting a film crew at your property, these are just some of the questions you might hear. Film activity is good for business, but, as attendees learned at a recent forum presented by the Westchester County Office of Tourism & Film, it's best to be fully aware of what you're signing up for first.

The event, On Location: Westchester, held at the Doral Arrowwood Hotel on March 21, featured a panel of film industry experts and brought together more than 50 Westchester County hoteliers and property managers from theaters, historic homes, and museums.

Panelists included location managers Ernie Karpeles (commercials), Lauri Pitkus (episodic television), and Rob Striem (major motion pictures), as well as a local business owner who has capitalized on Westchester's film boom, Andrea Bloome of Alchemy Post Sound. The discussion was moderated by Natasha Caputo, Director of Tourism & Film for Westchester County.

Rob Striem is a New York location manager for big name directors like Martin Scorsese and Steven Soderbergh. He also worked to transform a Yonkers street to serve as the location for the Cinemax period dramatic series, "The Knick." For feature films, Mr. Striem advises, "Expect temporary cosmetic changes, expect absurd requests; nothing is beyond our creative possibilities. The best people we deal with have a strong team, a great facility, and good services such as electricity, catering, and a point person on site for us to work with."

Although film activity can be profitable, the panelists say properties should be realistic. Productions are not cookie cutter and each has specific needs and budgets. Film productions might require expansive parking lots for numerous tractor-trailers, while commercials require much less space. "Keep in mind that big shows mean big budgets. Small shows will not have the same resources," advised Rob Striem. "That's when we want to know if we can work stuff out. Like, if it's off-season, can we get lower fees? Be realistic about size and scope, and be flexible!"

Be Proactive
The panelists say they are a collegial bunch, and that information is often shared. This is a benefit when things go smoothly, but can be a drawback when they don't. If a property or municipality doesn't deliver, word gets around fast. The panelists agreed that properties should know if their municipality is encouraging filming, and if not, work to convey its importance to the town's economy. "Nothing is more exciting than putting a business on the map because one of our shows filmed there," says Lauri Pitkus. They recommend being proactive to reap the economic benefits. "Whether someone has seen our show or not, all it takes is for someone to post a celebrity pic at a local business on social media. It helps drive business."

To help properties understand their municipality's interest in film activity, and its permitting fees and processes, the Tourism & Film Office has created a Guide to Municipalities. The guide is currently being updated but is available on the Westchester County's Tourism & Film Office website.

Top Marketing Tips
For properties that want to reap the financial benefits of increased film activity, the panelists offered a wide range of "film-friendly" tactics. Andrea Bloome, partner/COO of independent Foley studio Alchemy Post Sound in Westchester, recommends identifying other resources and vendors in your area—like prop houses, production services that offer ADR (automatic dialogue replacement), and camera rental stores. "There are many businesses in Westchester that help facilitate production. Being knowledgeable and providing this information to the crews is a great way to set yourself apart and grow your business," she recommends.

Other top marketing tips include:

  • Host a meet and greet: this is a great way for scouts to see your location and network with you and each other.
  • Have a film-friendly website: add a "how to film here" tab or a "film inquiries" form. Post location information, photos, rates, rooms, etc. Post an availabilities calendar that is updated frequently.
  • Video tour: properties can offer a virtual tour online, or create a promotional DVD.
  • Think out of the box: unusual, "funky" spaces may get overlooked but are often in demand. Identify these spaces—like a cool commercial kitchen or a creepy boiler room with pipes and tunnels—and promote that to the industry.
  • Be on the radar: Westchester County's Tourism & Film Office promotes locations on its Facebook page and Flickr account. Properties were encouraged to send information and photos to the Film office for inclusion.

"Our goal is to continue to bring the county's locations to the attention of the film industry," says Natasha Caputo. "This first forum was a great success. Attendees learned more about film productions, and they got to know location managers who are extremely influential in bringing film activity to Westchester."

Westchester Hotels and Properties Get Inside Scoop on Filming

Top Location Managers Weigh in on “How to be Film-Friendly”"Be flexible and open to negotiation... Don't lead us down a garden path... Expect crazy questions and be open to temporary cosmetic modifications... Be an advocate for film in your town..."

This is sage advice! It was offered to hotel and tourism properties by film industry experts at a forum presented by the Westchester County Office of Tourism & Film at the Doral Arrowwood Hotel on March 21st. The goal of the event was to help Westchester properties reap the financial benefits of increased film activity at their locations.

The event brought together more than 50 Westchester County hoteliers and property managers from theaters, historic homes, and museums. The draw? A direct connection with location managers who regularly scout Westchester, deciding whether to bring big budget films, commercials, and episodic television shows here to film.

"Westchester County has a history of being an attractive, film-friendly location for a wide range of productions," noted Deputy County Executive Kevin J. Plunkett in his welcome remarks. "By hosting this film forum for our hotel and tourism partners, our goal is to drive even more opportunities to generate film revenue for Westchester businesses."

Panelists included location managers Ernie Karpeles (commercials), Lauri Pitkus (episodic television), and Rob Striem (major motion pictures), as well as a local business owner who has capitalized on Westchester's film boom, Andrea Bloome of Alchemy Post Sound.

Led by moderator Natasha Caputo, Director of Tourism & Film, the panel discussion featured a wide range of topics, covering how needs differ for films, TV, and commercials; how properties can be more film-friendly; and effective marketing strategies.

What Makes a Location Film-Friendly?
Early on, Ernie Karpeles, a location manager who's worked in the film industry since 1980, offered this observation about Westchester: "Westchester County is not only beautiful, it's the easiest place to get to...you've got highways, trains, an airport. And, it's in the zone. It's very attractive as a location, and it's a great county to film in."

"The zone" is measured as a 30-mile distance from Columbus Circle in Manhattan. Once productions film outside the zone, they are required to pay overnight for a crew. Shooting in the zone offers a cost savings, but according to the location managers, this is not always a deal breaker. Properties outside the zone can make a difference by "working a little harder" on price, flexibility, and hitting as many "film-friendly" criteria as possible.

So, what are the most common features of a "film-friendly" location? The general consensus among panelists included ample parking, a welcoming town, good aesthetics, and locations that are easy to get to.

Be Prepared!
Lauri Pitkus, location manager for critically acclaimed shows, "Nurse Jackie" and "Orange Is The New Black," as well as feature films like "Ocean's Eight," offered a great piece of advice, saying, "This is a business of first impressions. We need to be detail oriented, and we need property managers to be as transparent as possible so we don't waste each other's time."

Ms. Pitkus says it's important for properties to resist the temptation to be over-eager and to be clear about availabilities and costs. "We need properties to be up front about fees, like taxes," she notes. "Simplify the billing or help productions understand the fees. We are an industry that likes round numbers!"

She, like her fellow panelists, points to catering as a sticking point for some hotels. "We can't pay $50 per person for lunch every day, which is why we go off-site and use our own caterers. This makes us lose time in our production day," she notes. "We'd love to work with you. Have the conversation – what can we work out?"

Stay tuned for more from our film industry experts, including what to expect from feature film productions and how to best market your property, coming soon.

Empire City Hits the Jackpot for Filmmakers

Empire City Casino and Showtime’s “Billions,” Damian Lewis’ character, Bobby Axelrod (aka Axe)In season 2 of Showtime's "Billions," Damian Lewis' character, Bobby Axelrod (aka Axe), is spotted at his hometown racetrack in Yonkers. The iconic "Empire City" neon sign glows behind the moody hedge fund mogul... Is this real, or just Hollywood magic?

Real! For "Billions," authenticity is key. So when "Axe" needed to head home to Yonkers, the producers reached out to film-friendly Empire City Casino (ECC) in Westchester County to shoot the scene.

We connected with the ECC team to find out what makes the location such a hot spot for film.

It all started with "The Flamingo Kid"...
According to Taryn Duffy, Director of Public Affairs, "ECC's film history dates back to 1984, when the "The Flamingo Kid" filmed at the racetrack. Since then, the property's nearly 100 acres—which includes sports bars, the historic race track, an Italian restaurant, bowling alleys, banquet spaces, private lounges, barns, multipurpose rooms, kitchens, stages and more—have attracted a diverse range of projects," Duffy said. Located within the NYC Film Zone (not more than 30 miles from Columbus Circle), the property has long been very attractive to scouts and producers. Also a plus, ECC has enough parking to accommodate 5,000 cars. "Parking is never a problem here,"Ms. Duffy adds.

The odds-on favorite...
The diversity of ECC's spaces make it a one-stop-shop for filming. Recent film shoots include Showtime's Billions (2016), Hulu's The Path (2016), Sneaky Pete by Topanga Productions (2015), Unforgettable by Woodridge Productions/Sony Pictures (2015), Mysteries of Laura (2014) by Warner Bros., Lionsgate's Girl Most Likely (2012), and USA Network's Royal Pains (2011). Essie Nail Polish also filmed their anniversary commercial and Instagram videos onsite.

ECC offers all types of catering services, and the staff is familiar with the demands of the filming industry and can usually accommodate special requests. Its generous parking lots are also a great space for holding equipment trailers and/or talent trailers, parking etc.

What happens behind the scenes...
When "Billions" requested a horse and driver for one of the scenes, an actual horse and driver that races at Yonkers Raceway was featured in the show. While shooting "Fast & Furious," the stunt doubles used Empire City's parking lot to practice the driving sequence for the scene shot in Times Square in the movie.

Celebrity watching at Empire City...
Aaron Paul, (Breaking Bad) recently shot for the series, "The Path," at ECC at one of its slot machines and actually won $300 during the scene. In addition to the cast of shows filmed at ECC, many celebrities can also be spotted enjoying the facilities. Celebrity visitors have included Harry Connick Jr., Bethenny Frankel, Hannah Davis Jeter, Willie Mays, Julius Erving, Allen Iverson, Don Zimmer, Mickey Rivers, Mike Torrez, Orlando Hernandez, Cullen Jenkins & Mike Patterson former New York Giants, lala Anthony, Paula Dean.

Empire City supports the film industry...
Empire City Casino hosted about 75 filmmakers and guests for the unveiling of the 100 films that have been selected for YoFiFest (Yonkers Film Festival), which took place in October. Another 'film fam tour' is in the works for the summer, and Empire City will proudly host the unveiling of the film selections for the YoFiFest again this fall.

Jordan Bowes of “Madam Secretary” (CBS) Shares His Insights on Filming in Westchester

Madame SecretaryIt’s Sunday night, and you’re tuned into “Madam Secretary.” Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord’s plane touches down at Houari Boumediene Airport in Algiers. Or did it? Actually, you’re seeing our very own Westchester County Airport on the screen, one of the many locations the show has used here during its three seasons. Recently, we had the opportunity to catch up with Jordan Bowes, Assistant Location Manager for “Madam Secretary,” to find out more about the show and what criteria location scouts use when making location decisions.

Q: Why do you find Westchester an appealing location for “Madame Secretary”?
A: JB—Our show is set not only in Washington, D.C., but also in cities across America and in many countries around the globe. While viewers might be surprised how many different cities and countries we’ve been able to recreate within the five boroughs of New York City, sometimes a script will call for a large-scale location or a location with certain geographical features that can’t be found in New York City. That’s where Westchester often comes in to help us bring our writers’ ideas to life.

Q: What Westchester County locations have been used for Madam Secretary?
Scene from Madam Secretary (CBS) shot at Westchester County AirportA: JB—We have filmed in many locations all over Westchester County. So far during Season Three, we have filmed at Million Air at the Westchester County Airport in White Plains, Aquario Restaurant in West Harrison, the West Harrison Fire Department (Ep. 302), The Ritz-Carlton Westchester and the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains (Ep. 306), Purchase Friends Meeting House in West Harrison, a private home in Purchase (Ep. 307), Sleepy Hollow Country Club (Ep. 310 & 313), a private home in Briarcliff Manor (Ep. 313), Croton Point Park (Ep. 315), Cross County Shopping Mall and Tibbett’s Brook Park in Yonkers, and V.I.P. Country Club in New Rochelle (Ep. 318). And we still have five more episodes left to film for Season Three, so I’m sure we’ll be back again soon.(See below for a list of locations for Seasons 1 - 2.)

Q: When you choose to shoot in Westchester, what drives the decision?
A: JB—The decision to film in Westchester is driven by the same process that determines why we film at any given location, which is to find the best setting possible for each scene based upon the shared vision of our Production Designer and each episode's Director. When we pick someplace, it's based on merit.

Scene from Madam Secretary (CBS) shot at Westchester County AirportQ: How have cast and crew been received when you're shooting here?
A: JB—The cast and crew have been very well received when we've filmed in Westchester. The majority of our locations have been private spaces where we don't necessarily have much interaction with the public, but Westchester residents have thus far seemed supportive when we film in their parks, restaurants, and other businesses, and we hope that they enjoy seeing places they know on television.

Q: When shooting here, do you eat in local restaurants, stay in local hotels, or hire local vendors?
A: JB—It varies from shoot to shoot, to be honest. We definitely eat in local restaurants every time we film in Westchester, especially the prep/wrap crews that get our sets ready a day or two before the shooting crew arrives and strike our sets a day or two after filming is completed. Almost all of our crewmembers are residents of the tri-state area, and our stages are located in Long Island City, Queens and Greenpoint, Brooklyn, so we don't have as much of a need for hotel rooms as an out-of-town production might. That said, it does happen from time to time, and as a show that films in a lot of hotels, "Madam Secretary" is open to filming in more Westchester hotels than we have so far. Regarding vendors, the Locations Department often rents tents, tables and chairs, light towers, and air conditioner/heater units for logistical support.

Q: Do you consider Westchester to be "film-friendly?"
A: JB—I absolutely consider Westchester to be film-friendly! On "Madam Secretary" alone, we have had a few dozen successful film shoots made possible by people willing to work with us from logistical and administrative standpoints. It also helps that the overwhelming majority of people with whom I've had the pleasure of working have been actually-friendly, too.

Q: Is there anything you'd tell fellow location scouts about Westchester that they may not know?
A: JB—There are plenty of location scouts that have been in the film business longer than I have and who know Westchester better than I do, so I'm not sure if I should be offering anyone advice. The only thing I'd say is that if I'm stuck looking for something that I just can't seem to find on my own, I've rarely gone wrong asking a local. Even if they can't help me find exactly what I'm looking for, they can usually recommend a great place to grab a cup of coffee or a bite to eat.

Q: Can you give us any inside scoop about Madam Secretary or what viewers can look forward to in the new season?
A: JB—As fans of the show know, we're always topical. And our writers have hit the nail on the head again this season with stories that are just now hitting the news. Tune in on Sundays for more!

Season One Locations:
•    Westchester County Airport in White Plains
•    Rudy’s Bar & Bistro in Rye (Ep. 101)
•    Untermeyer Park & Gardens and Alder Manor in Yonkers (Ep. 111)
•    Private homes in White Plains (Ep. 114 and in Mamaroneck (Ep. 116)
•    Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Briarcliff Manor (Ep. 120)

Season Two Locations:
•    Black Rock Park in Croton-On-Hudson (Ep. 206)
•    Most Holy Trinity Church in Yonkers
•    Yonkers City Hall (Ep. 207)
•    An apartment building, an office complex, and O’Boyle Park in Yonkers (Ep. 208)
•    Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Briarcliff Manor
•    A private home in Sleepy Hollow (Ep. 209)
•    The Lake Street Granite Quarry in Harrison
•    Copy Fax Office Equipment Center, Argonaut Diner, and two private homes in Yonkers (Ep. 217)
•    Brookside Mini Golf and St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers
•    Kensico Dam in Valhalla (Ep. 223).

The Year in (Westchester County) Film

The AffairThe crowd is hushed, the envelope torn, a glittering star pronounces the winner, and it is... Westchester County!

Each year, Westchester County plays a prime role in top feature films, thoughtful Indies, award winning television and cable shows, and scores of commercials and videos. While some might thrill to the reveal of a fresh crop of Oscar and Emmy contenders, we here in Westchester anxiously await the two thumbs up from another source—County Executive Robert P. Astorino.

"I won't go as far as saying that our Westchester locations guarantee Golden Globes or Emmys, but we have a pretty impressive track record of being the destination of choice for the best of the best," he notes.

Here, for your consideration, are County Executive Astorino's picks for the top screen moments in Westchester County in 2016:

  • "The Girl On The Train" (Dreamworks Pictures/Universal): This psychological thriller owed its idyllic suburban exterior scenes to locations in Tarrytown, Irvington, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings-on-Hudson, Ardsley, and White Plains.
  • "The Affair" (Showtime) Scenes from this tale about the destruction of two marriages were set in Yonkers, with prison scenes filmed at Westchester County Correctional Facility.
  • "Homeland" (Showtime): This hit drama often finds itself in Westchester for filming, and in 2016, the show filmed at Westchester County Correctional Facility.
  • "Divorce" (HBO): Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Hayden Church untied the knot against the beautiful backgrounds of Hastings on Hudson and Saxon Woods this year.
  • "Elementary" (CBS): This show, starring Lucy Liu, has filmed in various spots around the county, including White Plains. Scenes this year were shot in Saxon Woods and in the Pleasantville Diner.
  • "The Americans" (FX): When searching for picture perfect American settings, it's no surprise that Westchester County was the location of choice for this spy drama. This year, the show filmed at Playland and Croton Gorge Park.
  • "Mr. Robot" (USA Network): This Golden Globe winning, Emmy nominated show put its vigilante hackers in the historic setting of Lenoir Mansion in Hastings on Hudson.
  • "Madam Secretary" (CBS): Both Kensico Dam Plaza and Tibbetts Brook Park were Westchester County backdrops in this political drama starring Tea Leoni.
  • "Blind Spot" (NBC): The mystery behind this FBI drama slowly unraveled in locations around Westchester County, including Tibbetts Brook Park in Yonkers.
  • "The Blacklist" (NBC): This crime drama starring James Spader is a frequent visitor to Westchester. 2016 was no exception, as the cast and crew headed to Glen Island Beach in New Rochelle for filming.

From beautiful parks and shorelines to historic Main Streets, suburban neighborhoods, and busy urban sites, the County has earned a reputation as a film location of choice for the industry's top producers. The reason? According to County Executive Astorino, Westchester's allure is largely due to its outstanding location and its film location services.

"The county is incredibly attractive for filming because it offers so many unique locations without having to travel far," he says. In addition to backdrops that let scenes shift effortlessly from urban to bucolic, present day to retro, Westchester is also a peaceful place for weary cast and crew to rest after a long day's shoot. "Our stunning hotels not only serve as great locations, they also offer a comfortable retreat for everyone to stay."

Westchester County delivers an added bonus to production crews: its Tourism & Film team has a sophisticated understanding of the industry's needs, and provides expert service to facilitate production in Westchester.

While awards and accolades aren't guaranteed by simply filming in Westchester, according to Mr. Astorino, it certainly doesn't hurt.

"Producers should come to Westchester to be in stellar company. You never know, you might end up on my list next year, or even better, you might end up at the Oscars!"

Ready for Their Moment: Westchester’s Hotels Welcome Film Crews and Stars

If you had wandered into the Westchester Marriott 's parking lot recently, you might have sworn you were in a time warp. Some 40-year-old Ford Torinos and Volkswagens filled a section of the lot. Nearby, dull green-fringed poolside umbrellas replaced brightly colored ones and inside, 1970s-era furniture transformed the lobby. A new decorating scheme? Hardly. Stagers were readying the place for a production crew to film scenes of the upcoming HBO movie The Bleeder, starring Liev Schreiber.

It was an easy fit, said hotel Director of Operations Gary Byrne, as the hotel was built in 1980, but in a style that still suited the previous decade.

Like the Marriott, Westchester hotels are open for business when it comes to filming movies, TV shows and commercials. And Westchester County's film office staff is always eager to help. So, when the script calls for a hotel room, a pool or ballroom, hotels here get ready for action.

Set in urban centers such as New Rochelle and White Plains, and in suburban and even rural communities throughout the county, hotels offer production companies the same benefits the hospitality industry offers everyone – plenty of space for parking (often including trailers), and a staff that is used to fulfilling requests with a smile.

Even when the filming takes place somewhere off-site, the hotels make convenient and comfortable lodging for cast and crew. While filming the 2007 finale of the HBO hit The Sopranos, cast members stayed at the Marriott, Byrne recalled.

"They were coming back from the set still in character," he said.

When Lucy Liu, who is a single mother as well as an actress, stayed recently at the Westchester Marriott, she asked for an extra room for her baby sitter, Byrne said. The request, which is not an unusual one, was easily filled.

Westchester's history in film is well-known. Playland Amusement Park in Rye was the site where the boy in 1988's Big found a mechanical fortune-teller to grant his wish to grow up (into Tom Hanks). Sing Sing Correctional Facility has been in many movies (generally typecast as a prison). But hotels have also had their moments of fame in well-known movies.

Much of the 1970 hit Lovers and Other Strangers was filmed at The DoubleTree by Hilton in Tarrytown, said General Manager Richard Friedman. The staff still talks about it, he said. More recently, the DoubleTree doubled as a hotel in Virginia as the Fox show The Following with Kevin Bacon filmed an escape sequence, according to Friedman.

Westchester hotels are also popular locations for commercial shoots, he added, recalling an American Express commercial filmed poolside at the DoubleTree two years ago. Hotel managers say they find it easy to accommodate the crews and directors to allow the shooting to take place while guests continue to enjoy their stay. "They're very good to work with," Friedman said of the crews.

The filming is good for the hotels, too, Byrne said. "It suits them and it suits us," he said. "The guests get a kick out of it." The guests are OK with reasonable restrictions to keep them from interfering with the filming even if they can't entirely resist the urge to see what's going on.

"They're looking for Tom Cruise," Byrne said.

Westchester Native Chance Kelly to Film ‘Inside Fighter’ Here at Home

Chance KellyChance Kelly is an actor you probably recognize but whose name you may not know. But you should. After 20+ years in the business and with over 70 acting credits to his name, Kelly is one of the hardest working actors in TV and film. He has nailed roles in high-profile projects like Clint Eastwood's 2014 Iraq war drama, American Sniper, and other feature films including The Taking of Pelham 123, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Unbreakable. His television work includes his breakout role in Generation Kill, plus roles in House of Cards, The Blacklist, and Homeland. Most recently, he played Detective Ed Cutler (opposite actor David Duchovny) on NBC's Aquarius, a cop drama about the 1960s Los Angeles police investigation that led to Charles Manson and his family. The show—and Kelly's character—was just picked up for a second season.

Surviving into Season Two is good news for Kelly, who has played seven different characters on seven different Law and Order episodes, and posted photos of himself on social media with the hashtag, #LetChanceKellyLive. "They usually bring me in and kill me off pretty quickly," quips Kelly.

Luckily for the entertainment world, Kelly stuck with acting, and is now trying his hand at producing films, starting with his own script, Inside Fighter, which he plans to begin filming in Westchester County in early 2016. He'll play Billy "Bomb" Hayes, an aging ex-boxer, down on his luck, who is trying to reorder his life and relationship with his 10-year-old son. The film will open with shots of one of Westchester's best-known iconic film locations, Rye Playland, says Kelly, a former amateur boxer himself. The rest will be filmed throughout the county.

"Westchester is almost like a character in the film," says the actor, who grew up in Armonk, attended Byram Hills High School and now lives in New Rochelle with his wife and three children. With its great diversity of people and locations, Westchester is "a very interesting backdrop for any story," adds Kelly. He's simultaneously working on another screenplay set in Westchester County, about a lacrosse team, which focuses on themes of love and family.

In the meantime, Kelly is set (and excited) to begin shooting Season Two of Aquarius in November. Kelly says about working on the show, "David Duchovny is the brand, and we are all working with him to support the show. But he's totally cool and down to earth. I hope my character, who is a bit of a hothead, will develop into a more complex character next season."

TV Shows Filmed in Westchester Earn 28 Emmy Nominations

Yonkers street turned into a turn-of-the-century cityscape It's another strong year in Emmy nominations for television shows filmed in Westchester, with Orange is the New Black coming up big in the top categories, including outstanding drama series and best supporting actress. The Good Wife, The Americans, The Blacklist, and Boardwalk Empire are other top shows that snagged nominations, signaling the quality of film productions happening in Westchester County.

"When popular shows like these are recognized, it spotlights Westchester County, where the film and television industry is alive and well—and growing bigger each year," says County Executive Rob Astorino. "We congratulate all of the talented professionals whose hard work led to the nominations and we are hoping for big Emmy wins in September."

Westchester County attracts film and TV production because of its film-friendly climate and the diversity of location options, says Natasha Caputo, director of Westchester County Tourism & Film.

"You'll find just about any backdrop required —from small town scenes and urban landscapes, to sweeping river views, historic mansions, a film-friendly airport, jail, and several hotels," she notes. "We work very closely with industry professionals to find just the right location to meet their needs. We're proud of the work they do here, which also has a positive economic impact on our local economy."

In the image above, the location team transformed a Yonkers street into a turn of the century cityscape for The Knick (Cinemax), which earned several Emmy nominations including best directing, hairstyling, and makeup. Left to right: Jordan Bowes, Location Manager Rob Striem, Christopher Wos, and Hyo Park.

The 67th annual Primetime Emmy Awards will air Sunday, Sept. 20, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, hosted by Andy Samberg and broadcast live on Fox.

And the Emmy nominations for shows filmed in Westchester go to:

Outstanding Drama Series
"Orange is the New Black"

Supporting Actress, Drama
Christine Baranski, "The Good Wife"
Uzo Aduba, "Orange Is The New Black"

Guest Actor, Drama
Alan Alda, "The Blacklist"
Michael J. Fox, "The Good Wife"
Pablo Schreiber, "Orange Is The New Black

Guest Actress, Drama
Margo Martindale, "The Americans"

Supporting Actor, Comedy
Adam Driver, "Girls"

Guest Actress, Comedy
Gaby Hoffmann, "Girls"

Writing for a Drama Series
Joshua Brand for The Americans, "Do Mail Robots Dream Of Electric Sheep?" from FX Networks, Fox 21 Television Studios and FX Productions

Directing for a Drama Series
Tim Van Patten for Boardwalk Empire, "Eldorado" from HBO, HBO Entertainment in association with Leverage, Closest to the Hole Productions, Sikelia Productions and Cold Front Productions

Steven Soderbergh for The Knick, "Method And Madness" from Cinemax, Cinemax Entertainment in association with Ambeg Screen Products, Anonymous Content and Extension 765

Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series
Jennifer Euston for "Orange Is The New Black" from Netflix, Lionsgate Television for Netflix

Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series
Boardwalk Empire • Golden Days For Boys And Girls • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Leverage, Closest to the Hole Productions, Sikelia Productions and Cold Front Productions, Jonathan Freeman, ASC, Director of Photography

The Good Wife • The Line • CBS • Eye Productions in association with Scott Free Productions and King Size Productions
Fred Murphy, ASC, Director of Photography

Outstanding Costumes for a Period/Fantasy Series, Limited Series Or Movie
Boardwalk Empire • Golden Days For Boys And Girls • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Leverage, Closest to the Hole Productions, Sikelia Productions and Cold Front Productions
John Dunn, Costume Designer
Maria Zamansky, Assistant Costume Designer
James P. Hammer, Jr., Assistant Costume Designer
Joseph LaCorte, Assistant Costume Designer

Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series
Boardwalk Empire • Eldorado • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Leverage, Closest to the Hole Productions, Sikelia Productions and Cold Front Productions
Francesca Paris, Department Head Hairstylist
Lisa De Jesus, Key Hairstylist
Sarah Stamp, Key Hairstylist

The Knick • Get The Rope • Cinemax • Cinemax Entertainment in association with Ambeg Screen Products, Anonymous Content and Extension 765
Jerry DeCarlo, Department Head Hairstylist
Rose Chatterton, Key Hairstylist
Suzy Mazzarese Allison, Personal Hairstylist
Victor De Nicola, Hairstylist
Christine Cantrell, Hairstylist

Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic)
Boardwalk Empire • What Jesus Said • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Leverage, Closest to the Hole Productions, Sikelia Productions and Cold Front Productions
Michele Paris, Department Head Makeup Artist
Joe Farulla, Key Makeup Artist
Game Of Thrones • Mother's Mercy • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with

The Knick • Method And Madness • Cinemax • Cinemax Entertainment in association with Ambeg Screen Products, Anonymous Content and Extension 765
Nicki Ledermann, Department Head Makeup Artist
Stephanie Pasicov, Key Makeup Artist
Sunday Englis, Key Makeup Artist
Cassandra Saulter, Makeup Artist
Michael Laudati, Makeup Artist
LuAnn Claps, Personal Makeup Artist
Patricia Keighran, Key Makeup Artist
Susan Reilly-Lehane, Personal Makeup Artist

Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie, or a Special
Boardwalk Empire • The Good Listener • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Leverage, Closest to the Hole Productions, Sikelia Productions and Cold Front Productions
Michele Paris, Department Head Makeup Artist
Joe Farulla, Key Makeup Artist

The Knick • Crutchfield • Cinemax • Cinemax Entertainment in association with Ambeg Screen Products, Anonymous Content and Extension 765
Justin Raleigh, Special Makeup Effects Department Head
Kevin Kirkpatrick, Key Special Makeup Effects Artist
Kelly Golden, Special Makeup Effects Artist
Ozzy Alvarez, Special Makeup Effects Artist
Danielle Noe, Special Makeup Effects Artist
Bernie Eichholz, Special Makeup Effects Artist
Michael Ezell, Special Makeup Effects Artist
Kodai Yoshizawa, Special Makeup Effects Artist

Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series
Boardwalk Empire • The Good Listener • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Leverage, Closest to the Hole Productions, Sikelia Productions and Cold Front Productions
Fred Rosenberg, Supervising Sound Editor
Bill Orrico, Sound Editor
Roland Vajs, Sound Editor
Ruy Garcia, Sound Effects Editor
Jeffrey Stern, Dialogue Editor
Annette Kudrak, Music Editor
Steve Visscher, Foley Editor
Mark Costanzo, Foley Artist
Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role
Boardwalk Empire • Golden Days For Boys And Girls • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Leverage, Closest to the Hole Productions, Sikelia Productions and Cold Front Productions
Lesley Robson-Foster, VFX Supervisor
Parker Chehak, VFX Producer
Douglas Purver, Compositor
Paul Graff, VFX Supervisor
John Bair, VFX Supervisor
Greg Radcliffe, Digital Artist
Rebecca Dunn, Compositing Supervisor
Aaron Raff, Lead Digital Artist
Steven Kirshoff, Special Effects Forman

Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series Or Movie
The Blacklist • NBC • Davis Entertainment in association with Sony Pictures Television
Cort L. Hessler III, Stunt Coordinator

Boardwalk Empire • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Leverage, Closest to the Hole Productions, Sikelia Productions and Cold Front Productions
Christopher Place, Stunt Coordinator

Lights! Camera! Commercials!

Westchester County Parks such as Glen Island Park offer versatile backdrops and quick turnaround times often needed for commercial shoots. Photo credit: Larry HorodnerFrom The Wolf of Wall Street and Winter’s Tale, to Inside Llewyn Davis and Ricki and The Flash, Westchester County is no stranger to the big screen. But what you may not know is that Westchester offers world-class backdrops for businesses to film their commercials for the smaller screen.

“I’ve worked on literally thousands of commercials for television and print, and I love working in Westchester,” says veteran location scout, Ernie Karpeles (he’s been in the business 35 years!). “It’s close to New York City, easy to get to, and easy to navigate once you’re here. Plus the Westchester County Tourism & Film Office really understands the needs of the industry.”

Karpeles recently scouted Westchester and helped select the county’s Glen Island Park for a shoot for Optimum. The story called for a medieval village and Karpeles saw potential among the ruins of the site’s late-19th-century castle, which once served as a beer garden and restaurant at the summer resort once located on the island. “You take a lot into consideration when scouting—aesthetics, lighting, parking, logistics—so, I thought that particular backdrop would work if we just added a few medieval huts,” Karpeles said, adding that Westchester County Parks were among several county locations offering the quick turnaround needed for business. “The Tourism & Film office made it happen.”

With the addition of a few medieval huts, Glen Island Park and its late-19th Century castle were transformed into the medieval village for a commercial shoot. Photo credit: Laura BerningThe production also called for scenes at a train station, and a baseball field, also available in Westchester. Larry Horodner, location manager for the Optimum shoot, had this to say: "From scouting to permitting and filming on location, working in Westchester was a smooth-running and positive experience. Everyone loved the location—which has a lot to offer creatively, and logistically. I plan on coming back to Westchester."

In addition to the county’s prime location and film-friendly towns, a major reason to film in Westchester is the wide range of looks available, adds Karpeles, who has filmed everything from urban downtowns and suburban streets to farm animals, waterfalls, and romantic bridges—all in Westchester. His commercial projects include a yoy commercial at Ardsley’s House of Sports; a lightbulb commercial at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation; a PSA with Mariano Rivera at Yonkers’ Tibbetts Brook Park; a NBA commercial set in Maine but filmed at Peekskill’s Bear Mountain Bridge; an election commercial for a political candidate at locations throughout the Westchester which represented locations all over New York State.

For more information on filming in Westchester, contact us. The Tourism & Film Office in Westchester County is a division within County Executive Robert P. Astorino’s Office of Economic Development.

FFF: Future Filmmakers Festival

Future FilmmakersHere’s a chance to view work by up and coming talent when the Picture House showcases productions by teens from Westchester County.

One minute they’re feeling euphoric and joyful, the next, sad and tearful. Such is the emotional state of teenagers, for whom emotional highs and lows are routine. But here’s some interesting news: Talented teens from high schools across Westchester County have channeled those very emotions and feelings—from romantic and rebellious to jubilance – and produced 27 poignant short films that will be included in the Westchester County Future Filmmaker’s Festival, presented by The Matthew S. Hisiger Film Foundation, The Picture House Regional Film Center, and Westchester County. Westchester audiences will have a chance to view this remarkable work this Sunday, April 26, from 2:30 – 5:30 p.m. at The Picture House in Pelham.

"We are so proud of our filmmakers, who are taking risks with their creativity, exposing their emotions, and using technology in their work,” said Dale Hisiger, executive director of the Matthew S. Hisiger Film Foundation and former Board Member of The Picture House. “It is a privilege to provide the venue for them to share their work with the community."

Westchester County is a proud partner of the Future Filmmaker’s Festival, along with The Picture House and the Matthew S. Hisinger Film Foundation. Supporting the festival is part of Westchester County Tourism & Film’s efforts to promote local filmmakers and Westchester’s film friendly communities and array of backdrops. Hisinger added that Westchester’s support of this festival—and other educational programs like it—make Westchester a great place to foster creativity.

The Future Filmmaker’s Festival spotlights short films featuring a range of genres including narrative, documentary, comedy, drama, and musicals. The festival culminates with an awards ceremony when the “Chester”—Westchester’s Oscar—will be awarded to the top three film submissions. The event is also family-friendly: Films do not exceed 10 minutes and are rated PG.

Tickets are available at www.thepicturehouse.org and at The Picture House box office on the day of the event. Ticket prices are $7.00 for adults, $3.00 for students, and children under age five are admitted free of charge. There will be free street parking and additional space is available at the Pelham Metro-North train station, which is within walking distance of The Picture House.

For more information about the festival or to buy tickets, visit The Picture House.

Location Spotlight: Westchester County Parks

Glen Island BridgeNeed just the right location? Westchester Parks offer versatile backdrops for filming and are a location manager’s paradise.

The parks include a 300-foot high dam, secluded woodlands, open meadows, a 1900s gentleman’s farm, historic homes, golf courses, pools, and an island connected to a bustling city by a 1920s drawbridge in the middle of the Long Island Sound. It’s hard to imagine more versatile locations.

“Westchester’s locations that can stand in for just about anything,” said James Caponera, director of Westchester County Parks, who’s a 37-year veteran of the parks system.

And they have. The Glen Island Bridge stood in for a bridge in St. Petersburg, Russia, in an episode of the CBS science fiction drama, Person of Interest. The forest in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation was the setting for Richard Harrow’s suicidal scene in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. The Reservation’s grassy meadow served as a dog park in a Blue Buffalo pet food commercial.

Westchester County ParkSuburban Saxon Woods Park in Scarsdale was transformed into a secluded wooded area with an abandoned cabin for HBO’s The Leftovers, perfect for some of the show’s unsettling scenes. And it’s not just filmmakers who are attracted to this county; Westchester’s parks have graced the pages of Vogue and fashion retailer websites like Urban Outfitters.

“The aesthetics are great and it’s really practical to film here,” explains Caponera. “The parks are beautiful, for sure, but they also offer parking necessary for productions using multiple trucks full of equipment, with enough room for cast and crew members’ cars. In fact, Fox’s The Following used Saxon Woods Park six times as a base camp for meals, and to park over 60 vehicles.”

Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River is one of the most popular park sites, because of its size (4,300 acres) and diverse landscape (trout streams, mountain vistas, wooded areas, and a bucolic meadow), according to Jeff Main, park superintendent, and director of the conservation program. He works with location and production manages to ensure their expectations for filming are met while the rich biodiversity of the county’s parks is preserved.

Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross RiverWhile location managers appreciate the beauty offered by Westchester’s parks, Main said he appreciates when productions respect their natural surroundings—in fact, some county parks have benefited permanently from filming.

When HBO built a cabin in Saxon Woods for The Leftovers, they brought in plantings that were ultimately donated to the park. When filming War of the Worlds, production crews made shoreline improvements to Croton Point Park. After filming Boardwalk Empire, HBO contributed to the planting of a new white oak tree, replacing a 400-year old oak destroyed by lightning. It is this mutual appreciation that makes the relationship between parks and Hollywood work, said Main.

“We love working with the film industry,” he said. “Whether it’s a photo shoot, or a film, television, or commercial production, the end results shine a light on the beauty that abounds in Westchester County.”

15 Holiday Releases: It Happened in Westchester

 Martin Scorsese directed Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Wolf of Wall Street," released Christmas Day, 2013.When you’ve had enough of the holiday spirit—and, let’s face it, need a break from all that family togetherness—there’s nothing like a Hollywood blockbuster to cure your post-holiday blues.

Luckily, movie-goers have plenty of options during the holiday season. December is a popular time for new Hollywood blockbusters and holiday-themed films, as studios rush to release their titles for awards eligibility and to capture an audience during the holiday season, when more movie-goers are home from work and school and have time to head out to local movie theaters. Several Oscar-winning films produced over the past decade (and earlier) were filmed in Westchester County, including the "Wolf of Wall Street," "Inside Llewyn Davis," and "Catch Me if You Can." In addition, holiday favorites, "The Family Man," and "The Preacher's Wife" were filmed in Westchester.

“Throughout the years, blockbusters filmed in Westchester County have been a hit during the holiday season,” said Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino. “From romance and drama to thriller and comedy, there is an impressive list of award-winning films for everyone in the family to enjoy.”

Check out the 15 holiday movie releases filmed in Westchester, and the towns in which they filmed:

Inside Llewyn Davis, Dec. 3, 2013, Ward Pound Ridge Reservation; Cross River
Wolf of Wall Street Dec. 25, 2013 - Ardsley, White Plains
Rabbit Hole, Dec. 17, 2010, Yonkers
It's Complicated, Dec. 23, 2009, Hastings-on-Hudson
I am Legend, Dec. 14, 2007, Somers
The Good Shepherd, Dec. 22, 2006, Tarrytown
Mona Lisa Smile, Dec. 19, 2003, Yonkers
Catch Me if You Can, Dec. 25, 2002, Yonkers
Two Weeks Notice, Dec. 20, 2002, Donald Trump's home in Bedford
Maid in Manhattan, Dec. 13, 2002, Yonkers
Analyze That, Dec. 6, 2002, Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, Yonkers
The Family Man, Dec. 22, 2001, Sleepy Hollow
Kate & Leopold, Dec. 25, 2001, Yonkers
Stepmom, Dec, 25, 1998, Bronxville, Rye
The Preacher's Wife, Dec. 13, 1996, Yonkers

See the complete list of movies filmed in Westchester County.

Television Shows Filmed in Westchester Earn 9 Golden Globe Nominations

Julianna Margulies: Golden Globe nominee in "The Good Wife"Dec. 12, 2014 --  While the entertainment world is abuzz over the actors, writers, producers, directors, and creative talent behind this year's Golden Globe-nominated films and television shows, Westchester County is proud of the acclaim that productions filmed here continue to attract.

The nominations were announced this week in Beverly Hills by Kate Beckinsale, two-time Golden Globe Award-nominee Peter Krause, Paula Patton, and Golden Globe-winner and five-time nominee Jeremy Piven.

The quality of the productions filming in Westchester is evident in the nine Golden Globe nominations they have received—and in the 29 Emmy nominations received by various series earlier this year. With so many attractive locations and a film-friendly climate, Westchester County offers tremendous assets to the film industry, including a diverse array of backdrops, and a welcoming environment for production staff and crews. Many of the nominated television shows have returned to Westchester to film multiple episodes—and in some cases, multiple seasons.

And the 2015 Golden Globe nominees from shows filmed in Westchester are:

Best Performance by an actor in a television series – Drama
Clive Owen, "The Knick"
James Spader, "The Blacklist"

Best Television Series – Drama
"The Good Wife," CBS

Best Television Series, Comedy or Musical
"Girls," HBO
"Orange is the New Black," Netflix

Best Performance by an actress in a television series, comedy or musical
Lena Dunham, "Girls"
Taylor Schilling, "Orange is the New Black"

Best Performance by an actress in a supporting role in a series, mini-series, or motion picture made for television
Uzo Aduba, "Orange is the New Black"

Best Performance by an actor in a supporting role in a series, mini-series, or motion picture made for television
Alan Cumming, "The Good Wife"

The 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards—once again be hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler—will air on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.

Westchester County Airport: Calling All Location Managers

Westchester County Airport (HPN), White Plains, NYIn film and television, airports are the setting for wild romantic gestures (picture the guy running through the terminal to catch the girl flying away forever), tense dramas and thrillers, and hilarious comedic moments. Remember Steve Martin’s infamous encounter with a ticket agent in Planes, Trains and Automobiles? Or, how about Ben Stiller, waiting for the gate agent to call his row for boarding in a nearly empty departure terminal in Meet the Parents? With the dramatic backdrop of jumbo jets taking off, it’s no surprise that scenes filmed in airports translate into some of film and television’s most memorable moments.

Location managers take note! It’s easy to film at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York. “There are no layers of bureaucracy here,” explains Stephen Ferguson, assistant airport manager. “We have a great relationship with Westchester County Tourism & Film. After filing a letter of intent with the office, we can get a contract done quickly and coordinate the production details. We’re easier than dealing with the Port Authority in New York City, and more affordable, too.”

Many others agree. Meet the Parents, This is Where I Leave You, and the upcoming The Family Fang, and The Great Gilly Hopkins all filmed scenes at this bustling regional airport. Popular television shows like The Blacklist regularly film there as well.

Corporate JetCommercial and Private Aircraft Rely on Westchester
There’s tremendous activity at the Westchester County Airport on a daily basis: 450 takeoffs and landings a day, including 84 scheduled flights with six commercial airlines according to Ferguson. The airport is home to 90 business jets and 280 light twin engine and single engine planes which may be used for filming.

“We have assets that are second to none,” says Ferguson. “We are one of the largest corporate airports in America,” he points out. “For productions looking to film scenes in private hangars and luxury jets, this is the place to be—New York City’s airports don’t offer filming with corporate jets. We’re seeing a lot of increased activity in this area, for example, Law and Order has used our business jets for filming.”

Ticket LobbyFilm Day or Night: “We never close.”
As for locations inside the terminal, Ferguson said productions have two great options: use the departure lounge, ticket lobby, and arrival/departure gate area from 10 p.m. until 3:30 a.m., or use the third floor of the terminal during the day and night.
“We never close, so if the night option is chosen, we can’t guarantee a flight won’t be delayed and an unexpected crowd won’t file through your production. However, it’s a great location that requires little set up. On the other hand, the third floor has great views of the tarmac, and productions can improvise and create their own custom baggage claim, ticket window and waiting area. That can be enticing, too.”

The airport can also accommodate student films, and is quite popular with students from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, as well as Purchase College SUNY students, who attend classes nearby. It’s also a popular place for photo shoots and commercials; Verizon and AT&T have recently filmed television spots, and several more companies have requested to film general airport footage.

“It’s always exciting to work with film and television crews,” says Ferguson. “We aim to be flexible and make the experience easy and productive for the industry.”

TV Shows Filmed in Westchester Earn 29 Emmy Nominations

TV Shows Filmed in Westchester Earn 29 Emmy NominationsAug. 15, 2014 -- While television viewers around the world gear up for the 66th Annual Emmy Awards Show on August 25, 2014, Westchester County, New York is beaming over the 29 Emmy nominations received by various series that have filmed here recently.

"From dramas to comedies, period pieces to courtroom thrillers, TV series filmed in Westchester cover it all," said County Executive Robert P. Astorino. "We congratulate the brilliant actors, directors, casting agents, editors, makeup artists, and all of the creative talent that have earned Emmy nominations this year. We'll be cheering for you on Aug. 25th."

Westchester County offers an array of attractive backdrops: parks, shorelines, historic Main Streets, suburban neighborhoods, an airport, colleges, historic mansions, and bustling urban areas. Several sound stages and post-production facilities have ample space in which to build sets, record, and edit. For example, Haven Studios in Mt. Vernon was recently transformed into the interior of a suburban residence and police station for the HBO/Warner Bros. Television show, "The Leftovers."

And the Emmy nominations for shows filmed in Westchester go to:

Best Comedy Series
"Orange is the New Black," Netflix

Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Lena Dunham, "Girls," HBO
Taylor Schilling, "Orange Is the New Black," Netflix

Best Actress in a Drama Series
Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife," CBS

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series
Kate Mulgrew, "Orange Is the New Black," Netflix

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series
Adam Driver, "Girls," HBO

Supporting Actor, Drama Series
Josh Charles, "The Good Wife," CBS

Supporting Actress, Drama Series
Christine Baranski, "The Good Wife," CBS

Outstanding Guest Actress In A Drama Series
Margo Martindale as Claudia in "The Americans," FX

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Dylan Baker as Colin Sweeney in "The Good Wife," CBS

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series
Natasha Lyone, "Orange is the New Black," Netflix
Laverne Cox, "Orange is the New Black," Netflix
Uza Adubo, "Orange is the New Black," Netflix

Outstanding Direction, Drama Series
Tim Van Patten, "Boardwalk Empire," HBO

Outstanding Direction, Comedy Series
Jodie Foster, "Orange is the New Black, "Netflix

Outstanding Art Direction for a Period Series, Miniseries or Movie
"Boardwalk Empire," HBO

Outstanding Costumes for a Series
"Boardwalk Empire," HBO

Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single Camera Series
"Boardwalk Empire," HBO

Outstanding Makeup for a Single Camera Series (Non-prosthetic)
"Boardwalk Empire," HBO

Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie, or Special
"Boardwalk Empire," HBO

Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series
"Boardwalk Empire," HBO

Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series
"The Good Wife," CBS

Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series
"Orange is the New Black," Netflix

Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series
"The Blacklist," NBC

Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series
William Turro, "Orange is the New Black," Netflix
Michael Stern, "Orange is the New Black," Netflix
Shannon Mitchell, "Orange is the New Black," Netflix

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
"Orange is the New Black," Netflix

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
Directed by Tim Van Patten – "Boardwalk Empire," HBO

"It's a terrific lineup," says Natasha Caputo, Director of Tourism and Film. "We're proud of the recognition that these shows have received, and are pleased to be working in concert with so many in the film industry, who recognize the tremendous assets and film-friendly climate available in Westchester County, and whose work benefits our local economy," said Caputo.


“Boardwalk Empire” Features Historic Castle on the Hudson

Greystone Court located in Yonkers, NYIt's a film location manager's dream: Panoramic views of the Hudson River, 28 period rooms with 300 years of history, and all of it only 25 minutes from Manhattan. It's no wonder that Greystone Court in Yonkers, New York, the gray granite castle, has become a sought-after filming destination for an array of productions, notably, HBO's crime period drama, "Boardwalk Empire," which airs its fifth and final season this fall.

"Greystone Court works for filming any time period in history, and for photo shoots, from mid-market to haute couture," said owner Kohle Yohannan, the museum curator, author, and art historian who purposefully restored the mansion over a ten-year period beginning in 2001. "Many of the rooms were imported in their entirety from 16th, 17th, and 18th century European mansions. Imagine! A private home in New York that has these mini-setups, ready to go."

The mansion is frequently splashed on the pages of fashion magazines, such as Vogue (including the American edition and several international versions), Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and Allure. Besides "Boardwalk Empire," Greystone Court is also featured in scenes from CW's Gossip Girl, the feature films Gods Behaving Badly and Mona Lisa Smile, and Beyonce's music video for her hit song, Irreplaceable.

The ballroom at Greystone CourtA Horse in the Ballroom!
The mansion's grandeur combined with modern amenities makes Greystone Court a best bet for productions, said Yohannan. Built in the 1880s and expanded in the 1920s, the 14,500 square-foot home's rooms remind one of a European castle ¬– ballroom, chapel, billiard room, tea room, observatory, music room, tower room – they are enchanting! Add to those elegant dressing rooms, separate suites for celebrities, a catering kitchen, and production suite complete with hair and makeup chairs and garment racks, and you've got it made.

While Yohannen maintains the privacy of his clients, he will reveal some of the quirkier things that have happened at Greystone Court since he began marketing the mansion as a destination for filming.

"Having a horse in the ballroom, well, that was pretty unusual," he laughs.

Black oak Gothic panels frame a staircase in Greystone Court.Large productions, for example, are possible at Greystone Court because of cooperative relationships set up with neighboring organizations. Semi-truck and tractor-trailers are able to park in a nearby church parking lot. Other nearby locations attractive for filming are easy to get to, such as Untermyer Gardens, Tibbets Brook Park, and the Yonkers Train Station.

The City of Yonkers, the state's fourth largest city, is also easily accessible from major highways, commuter rail, and Amtrak.

For more information on Greystone Court, e-mail info@greystonecourt.com or greystonecourt.com.

Lyndhurst Mansion in Westchester a Popular Location for Many Hollywood Productions

lyndhurstSnowWith its imposing Gothic Revival architecture and gorgeous perch overlooking the Hudson River, Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, NY is the dramatic backdrop for television shows, fashion and commercial shoots, and feature films—most recently, Showtime's "Seven Deadly Sins" starring Morgan Spurlock, and "A Winter's Tale," starring Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown-Findlay. It's old-world glamour in the heart of Westchester!

Location managers are especially awed by Lyndhurst's priceless art, historical furniture, and stunning landscapes, says Christine Plazas, the estate's manager of event planning and sales. Plus, she adds, it's a National Trust for Historic Preservation site and is incredibly film-friendly.

"What we offer to production companies is a whole team to support them," said Plazas, who has a background in hospitality management. We also work closely with crews so they can take advantage of all 12 buildings on our 67 acres, while protecting our collection at the same time. Our on-site curator is an invaluable asset, who recognizes that filming at Lyndhurst helps us preserve it for the future."

Now open to the public, Lyndhurst was originally built in 1838 as the home of William Paulding, Jr., who was the mayor of New York City in the 1820s. The home was later purchased by merchant George Merritt and eventually by the railroad tycoon Jay Gould. The staff at Lyndhurst can facilitate an array of productions and special requests, according to Plazas.

"For A Winter's Tale, which was set in the 1840s, they needed snow," she recalls. "It happened to be a dry winter, so the production covered the entire lawn with white fabric, sprayed in ice, brought trees in covered with ice. We also worked with them to build a tent on the mansion's roof, which became the sleeping quarters for Jessica Brown-Findlay's character, who was sick with tuberculosis." During the shoot, Plazas recalled that they discovered that Colin Farrell was a classical musician. To relax in between takes, he gravitated to the concert grand Steinway piano once owned by Jay Gould.

For the History Channel's "Men Who Built America," special outbuildings substituted for a New York City tenement, and the carriage house was used as a pub. In addition, the mansion, bowling alley, conservatory, and indoor pool building were featured.

Many productions have built sets on site, and gone on to film at other locations nearby in Tarrytown and Westchester. The option to leave sets intact while filming in other places is possible at their location, says Plazas.
"We also offer plenty of space for equipment, trucks and trailers, and cranes," she notes.

Lyndhurst is also familiar in high fashion and digital arts circles. Hamptons Magazine, and Gotham Magazine are among the publications featuring shoots at Lyndhurst. Plus, the mansion has been featured on several episodes of TLC's "Four Weddings," including eight finales, and the exterior was filmed and used for the look and design of a video game.

Among the wackier shoots at Lyndhurst? "Radio Shack filmed a battery commercial here," says Plazas. "We had a lot of little girls in pink Barbie cars driving around the property, which was a lot of fun!"

For more information on filming at Lyndhurst, contact Christine Plazas, Manager Event Planning & Sales, at CPlazas@savingplaces.org.

Astorino Showcases County's Growing Film and Television Industry

"The Leftovers” is Latest Production in Westchester Fictional Town of “Mapleton” Celebrated on June 29 

Mapleton, New York DayCounty Executive Robert P. Astorino today proclaimed June 29 “Mapleton, New York Day in Westchester County.” If you are wondering what Mapleton has to do with Westchester, the answer is film and television production.

Mapleton is the fictional town at the center of a new ten-episode television series “The Leftovers,” beginning Sunday, June 29 at 10 p.m. on HBO.  From Damon Lindelof (Emmy® winner for “Lost”) and acclaimed novelist Tom Perrotta (Academy Award® nominee for “Little Children”), “The Leftovers” is based on Perrotta’s bestselling novel of the same name, produced for HBO by White Rabbit in association with Warner Bros. Television.

Starring  Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston and Liv Tyler, the show has been filmed in settings across the county, as well as on an  elaborate set built at the new Haven Studios NY in Mount Vernon.

 “Westchester’s beautiful parks, shorelines, historic Main Streets, suburban neighborhoods and bustling urban areas provide great backdrops for movies and television shows,” said Astorino from the set of “The Leftovers” in Mount Vernon on Friday. “The Leftovers is just the latest starring role for Westchester, and we are very proud to have worked with everyone involved in the production. Obviously, we love the glamor. But film production also makes business sense in terms of jobs and dollars coming into our local communities. Just six months into 2014, we have surpassed the revenues generated by film and television production in all of 2013.”

One sign of the health of the film business in Westchester is the conversion of a warehouse in Mount Vernon into Haven Studios NY. For “The Leftovers”, the 42,270 square-foot production space at Haven Studios was transformed into the interior of a suburban residence and a police station.  “We were excited to get a tenant so soon after marketing the space to the film industry,” said Nicole Zeller, the owner of the new studio and vice president of Zelco Industries. “We had so much interest in the space. It was clearly needed in the region.”
In addition to “The Leftovers,” other recent television series that have filmed multiple episodes—and in some cases, multiple seasons—in Westchester include, “The Blacklist,” “The Following,” “Elementary,” “Person of Interest,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Americans,” “Girls,” and “The Good Wife.” Feature films that have recently wrapped include “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Winter’s Tale,” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”

Photo (left to right): Nicole Zeller, co-owner of Haven Studios NY; Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino; Mayor Ernie Davis, City of Mt. Vernon; and Gabrielle Zeller, co-owner of Haven Studios NY.

Yonkers Stage Offers Affordable Production Facility in Metro New York

Large Scale Space Offers Freedom and Flexibility in Westchester County, Say Veteran Film Producers

Yonkers StageIt all started with an affair—"The Thomas Crowne Affair," that is. Co-producers Roger Paradiso and Mike Tadross needed a museum with an Impressionist Wing, without the hassle of moving precious real art during their shoot. So they built one.

They found space in Yonkers, about 20 minutes north of the real Metropolitan Museum of Art, easily accessible by train and three major highways and within the 25-mile New York City production zone.

"We managed to stuff in 24 sets into the stage," said Paradiso of the 32,000 square-foot facility space they found, now called Yonkers Stage. "We built a two-story townhouse and a museum set. And we still had room for carpentry, scenic, set decorating, FX shops, production offices and more."

Paradiso and Tadross partnered to lease and market the campus, which includes two buildings and nine acres for one package price. It's hosted several high profile productions since their first in 1989, including "Mona Lisa Smile," "Riding in Cars With Boys," "Wall Street Two," and "Inside Llewyn Davis," to name a few.

"Because the space is raw, the sky's the limit," says Paradiso. "For 'Llewyn Davis,' they did all the shots of the actors driving through rain and snow in the stage, with the actor sitting in a car. For "A Winter's Tale," they re-created parts of Central Park. The producers of "Rollerball" created a rink in the staging area that came out into a parking lot."

Producers and directors can expect a lot of freedom and affordable prices in Yonkers and throughout Westchester County, says Paradiso. "The county's largest cities can substitute for major urban areas, and has traditional suburbs and rural locations that are not overused. The town of Yonkers is very film-friendly, and it's a lot easier to move large crews around here, too. Using Yonkers as your home base is an economical way of working with great assets."

Editor’s note: Yonkers Stage is no longer in operation. For information on other facilities for filmmakers in Westchester County, see “Studios and Stages” or contact the Film Office at (914) 995-8500.

Warner Brothers Television Signs on as Tenant to Film HBO Drama, The Leftovers

Haven Studios Fills Need for More Production Space in Westchester County

Turns out, an affordable, 42,500 square-foot raw production space with plenty of parking and access to public transportation and major highways—all within New York City’s 25-mile zone—is not a tough sell to film and television producers. When sisters Nicole and Gabrielle Zeller decided to market their Westchester County warehouse, they sailed through state approval process for becoming a qualified production facility and nabbed their first tenant, Warner Brothers Television, within months.

Haven Studios“We had so much interest in the space, it was clearly needed in our region,” said Nicole Zeller, who is also vice president of Zelco Industries (DBA Haven Studios NY), the innovative company known for inventing the Itty Bitty Book Light. Haven is now home base through 2014 to "The Leftovers," the highly anticipated HBO dramatic series created by Tom Perotta, author of the novel from which the series takes its name, and Damon Lindelof, who also wrote episodes of "Lost."

We were thrilled to get such a great tenant so quickly,” said Zeller whose warehouse has three loading docks, gated areas for locked storage, offices, conference rooms, a kitchen, ancillary production space, nearby restaurants and plenty of big-box stores with supplies.

 “And, it’s unbelievable what they have created—a whole police department, and interiors of a house. Being able to create these semi-permanent unique settings is one of the advantages of being here.”Haven Studios

Creating product for the entertainment industry isn’t new for the family business, said Zeller. Her uncle, Gary Zeller, a chemist and special effects coordinator, created Zel-Jel, a gooey salve that prevents actors’ skin from burning during pyrotechnic stunts, which earned him a 1989 Academy Award for technical achievement.

Nicole’s father, Noel Zeller, who invented the wildly successful book light has said the family creates products with problem-solving in mind—and for film, television, and commercial productions looking for more large-scale production space in Westchester County, the arrival of Haven Studios NY is a welcome addition.

With an expansive location just a few blocks from Metro North, the Hutchinson River Parkway, I-95, and a New York City subway stop nearby, Haven Studios has much to offer film, television, and commercial productions. Haven Studios is now available for short-term productions. For more information, visit www.havenstudiosny.com.

Westchester’s Paramount Theater Chosen for an Indie Shoot

Paramount Theatre, City of PeekskillSometimes, a film’s location takes on a life of its own. The Paramount Theater, located in Westchester’s artsy City of Peekskill, had the perfect vibe for the look and feel of the independent film, "Friends and Romans," produced by Michael Mailer.

“It’s an older theater that harkens back to a certain time and age,” said Susan Parsons, production manager, on a recent day of filming.  “It has what we needed—the kind of character that we built into the script. It’s the kind of place that inspires great memories.”

The Paramount Theater serves as a backdrop for about a third of the film, which features actor Michael Rispoli, who plays an Italian-American aspiring actor so desperate to move beyond stereotyped background work, he decides to mount a production of Julius Caesar to prove his mettle. The film also stars Annabella Sciorra and Tony Sirico. Rispoli and Sirico are well known for their roles on "The Sopranos," 'Jackie,' and 'Paulie,' respectively.Actors Michael Rispoli and Tony Sirico on set at the Paramount Theater in Peekskill, NY, for the filming of Friends and Romans.

Parsons says that the rest of city served as the perfect setting for the film that supposedly takes place in Staten Island, New York. “In terms of production, Peekskill is well-located on the Hudson River. It has water access and is close to major parkways that allow commercial vehicles. Plus, it has proximity to Manhattan, where some of our actors and crew are located,” Parsons added, noting that the locals—from the theater staff to realtors, police, business council and Westchester film office representatives—have helped with various aspects of the production.

The film shoot has provided benefits for the town, too, according to Jonathan Close, the theater’s general manager. “The main benefit for us has been a continuous use of our theater. The crew has frequented area restaurants and used local equipment. And it has meant a great deal to our staff, both from a professional development standpoint and, given the extra work they’ve had, an economic one as well.”Paramount Theatre, City of Peekskill

Producer Michael Mailer said audiences of all ages would enjoy the comedy, due out in 2014. The film is a warm, aspirational tale in the style and humor of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," according to Mailer, and has themes of self-empowerment, proving oneself, and realizing that potential doesn’t disappear with youth.

Mailer said he’s a big booster of New York State shoots.

“The Governor’s office has made it favorable,” said Mailer. “Tax rebates make productions possible. Plus, shooting in Westchester has been more relaxed than shooting in Manhattan—and the theater is a gem of a space.”

Lead actor Michael Rispoli also said he was happy to be filming in the region. “I grew up in Rockland County and still live in the Hudson Valley. I also come from a theater background, so the Paramount Theater was a draw for me. It feels like home.”

Mailer agrees. “The location is all part of the package of making art. We feel the joy of making a movie and feel good about employing a bunch of people and contributing to the New York State economy. It’s a joy to work with actors who get the New York vibe of this shoot.”

Location Manager Loves Filming in Westchester for the Fox Hit, "The Following"

Chris George, Location Manager for "The Following"

Seven Questions for Chris George

Westchester County Film: We're so excited about Season 2 of "The Following!" What drew you to Westchester locations for this show?

Chris George: Westchester County offers every kind of production value you could possibly need. Urban, suburban, rural, pastoral, industrial – the county has it all. Plus, the support that productions receive from the Lydia Ruth and the Westchester County Film Office adds a comfort level and peace of mind that you can't really put a price tag on.

WCF: Tell us about some of the other productions you've worked on here.

CG: I've filmed in Westchester County for over a decade on a variety of projects: "The Following," NBC's "30 Rock," "Law & Order: SVU" and "The Book of Daniel" and features like "Hitch" with Will Smith, "Riding in Cars with Boys" with Drew Barrymore, directed by Penny Marshall, and "A Beautiful Mind" with Russell Crowe, directed by Ron Howard.

WCF: What are some of your favorite locations in Westchester County?

CG: For The Following, we did a great sequence on top of Kensico Dam in Valhalla. [Editor's note: Kensico Dam Plaza is a Westchester County Park, with a dam that is 300 feet high and almost 2,000 feet long forming the Kensico reservoir]. I'm also a fan of Saxon Woods county park in Scarsdale, the Westchester County Prison, the spectacular suburban homes of Harrison, the beautiful downtowns of Rye and Bronxville, Manhattanville College, and the Beechwood Estate at SUNY Purchase. Special mention goes to Jason Baker and Sgt. Chris Perotta in Yonkers and to Jackie Greer and Lt. Michael Olsey in Harrison. Those two towns in particular are really welcoming to production companies. We always feel especially comfortable in Yonkers and Harrison, too.

WCF: What's a typical day like for you "at the office?"

CG: I don't really get to spend much time at the office, specifically. I spend the majority of my days being driven around by a teamster in a scout van with the show's director, producer, production designer, and assistant directors. If I'm not in the van, I'm usually on the set.

WCF: What do you take with you on a scouting mission?

CG: The only two indispensable things are a camera and a phone: the camera to document where you are, and the phone to line up where you're going. At the end of the day, that's all you really need.

WCF: What was your most exciting discovery as a location scout?

CG: More often than not, finding the perfect location is all about timing. One of the most exciting discoveries we made last season on "The Following" was the former Ossining police station. We happened to be looking for several days all over the New York area for a building that could play as a small-town police station for a multiple-episode arc. With the Westchester County Film Office's guidance, we came upon the Ossining station not long after it closed, and it could not have been a more ideal location. It barely needed any dressing at all; we just had to set up the cameras and roll. Then, within a month or so after we finished filming, the building was sold and is now no longer available. I'll always look back on that place as one of the best locations we ever stumbled upon. My department still gets compliments on it over a year later.

WCF: What's next?

CG: I've already mentioned some of the projects I've worked on. Next for me, after we wrap Season 2 of The Following, is a new pilot from Tina Fey for NBC – a breezy comedy with a slightly different tone from the FOX thriller. After that, some time off with the family...Then, back at it again...


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