Monday, June 19, 2017

Sneaky Pete’s Dragon

A few days ago, I spied “No Parking” signs covering a several block radius in my neighborhood. Beginning at ten o’clock last night, remaining vehicles would be towed away. Upon closer inspection, the signs revealed the reason behind this local upheaval: location filming of Sneaky Pete, an Amazon original series. While the show has been recommended to me, I have thus far not seen it.

I recently wrote about a certain stroll down memory lane. That is, watching episodes of Kojak, my favorite TV detective of all-time. As previously noted, my contemporary complaint of this 1970s production is the cheesiness—the unevenness—of the filming. As a kid, the tough but compassionate New York City cop on the streets of New York, which more often than not were the streets of Los Angeles, didn’t faze me in the least. As I recall, it was quite costly in those days to film in New York versus Tinseltown. It still must cost a fair chunk of change, but today’s politicians clearly have the welcome mat out for such endeavors. Many more TV shows and movies are filmed here than in Kojak’s day. Blue Bloods, starring Tom Selleck, is exclusively shot on the streets of New York, including the outer boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. While it looks really good—and real—I found the show somewhat heavy-handed and self-conscious. In other words, looks can be deceiving. So what if Kojak makes reference to a restaurant parking lot in midtown Manhattan, or that countless scenes include a stationary crowd of curious onlookers. 

While TV shows and movies are typically enhanced when filmed on location, the process is disruptive. In densely populated neighborhoods with limited parking spaces, residents are impacted. I can attest to the fact that road rage and parking rage, too, are not uncommon on the mean streets of the Bronx. It’s dog-eat-dog out there. Remove a couple of hundred spots and the competition—the cat fighting—gets taken to another level.

When I ventured out this dreadfully humid morning into the Sneaky Pete universe of trailers, lighting, and cameras, I saw that film preparations were underway at Tibbett Diner, an iconic neighborhood eatery that has lent its singular ambiance to filmmakers before. It was closed today for the shooting, which I’m sure caught a lot of loyal and hungry patrons by surprise. But sometimes sacrifices have to be made for the greater good. Immortalized on Sneaky Pete, Tibbett Diner—and the neighborhood it serves—will endure forever.

(Photos from the personal collection of Nicholas Nigro)

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