It was a rainy Thursday morning when I joined the line for the New York TV & Movie Sites Tour, between Ellen’s Stardust Diner and the Winter Garden Theatre—the tour meets there at 11am daily and goes until 2:30pm. Once we boarded the coach bus, with carpeted seats and overhead TV screens for showing movie clips, I was in heaven. Not only would I be spending the next three and a half hours talking about movies and TV shows (answering trivia about the AFI’s top film quotes), but I was surrounded by tourists with awesome accents, from Australia and the UK.
Our tour guide, Amadeo Fusca (“Deo”) was the perfect ambassador. A proud Italian with attitude, he loves everything to do with show business and has no shortage of jokes about the Kardashians. Amadeo is also an up and coming actor, like the rest of the tour guides at On Location Tours, having had parts on I Married a Mobster along with the exciting new indie A New York Heartbeat.
After watching a scene from New Year’s Eve (2011), with Sarah Jessica Parker and a grownup Abigail Breslin eating at Ellen’s Stardust (Broadway at 51st St)—the 50s diner with a singing wait staff—we bypassed the chaos of Times Square and headed to Columbus Circle, stomping ground for superheroes and marshmallow monsters alike.
You may remember the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters (1984) taking a stroll through Columbus Circle on his way to the headquarters at 55 Central Park West. The futuristic Hearst Magazine Tower (8th Ave at W 57th St), most recently featured in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) as Oscorp, was also home to the fictional Alette Magazine in Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009) and hosted an episode of Project Runway. The Trump International Hotel and Tower (1 Central Park West) served as the setting for Tower Heist (2011), as well as the Celebrity Apprentice and Borat (2006).
From there, we stopped at The Plaza (5th Ave and Central Park South)—home to Eloise and seen in movies and shows like North by Northwest (1959), Almost Famous (2000), Home Alone 2 (1992), Bride Wars (2009), and Gossip Girl. One of the most memorable scenes filmed here is the bittersweet ending from The Way We Were (1973), as well as Carrie’s reenactment with Big in Sex and the City. Fun fact: The Pulitzer Fountain outside the hotel was the inspiration for the Friends opening theme fountain, but they thought it made the actors look small so they built their own scaled down model.
Since I don’t want to give away all of the tour’s secrets, let’s skip ahead to the Flatiron District. Team Tobey fans can visit the building that housed the Daily Bugle in the Spider-Man movies, the Flatiron (5th Ave and 23rd St). Madison Square Park was recently featured in The Adjustment Bureau (2011) and Something Borrowed (2011)—does it get better than John Krasinski and Shake Shack?
A lot of the tour takes place below 14th St, with off-the-bus stops and photo-ops in Washington Square Park and SoHo. You can even pay $10 for bottled water at the Kardashian’s Dash boutique (Spring St, btwn Greene and Mercer St).
While in Tribeca, we visited the Hook & Ladder 8 firehouse (14 North Moore St) from Ghostbusters and Hitch (2005), just steps away from Jay-Z and Beyonce’s place on Hudson and Desbrosses. Though for most, it seemed the highlight was the Friends apartment (Bedford St), which we prepared for by singing the theme together.
On Location Tours: New York TV & Movie Sites Tour; Sex and the City Hotspots Tour; Sopranos Sites Tour; Gossip Girl Sites Tour; Central Park TV & Movie Sites. (212) 209-3370. http://www.screentours.com/