New Yorkers Stand as Critics, but the City is Ready for Its Close-Up

It’s hard to know which is more ubiquitous on the streets of New York this summer: Hot dog carts or film crews.

Some 23 television shows are being filmed in the city at the moment, a record number. Some of the shows currently filming on the streets should be no surprise. The HBO series Girls, for example, is about a group of young adults living in the city, while the plot of NBC’s Smash centers on the making of a Broadway musical. It stands to reason that directors, cameramen, gaffers, and actors should on the streets, capturing that authentic Big Apple experience.

But you don’t have to be particularly old to remember that not so long ago, downtown Toronto used to serve as the city’s body double in feature films as well as TV shows. The costs, work rules and inconveniences of the city discouraged the entertainment industry from spending time—and their money—in New York.

Thanks to the persistence and hard work of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, however, television producers and directors are flocking back to New York this summer. In fact, the city has become so popular that shows that take place in other cities actually are being shot here, including the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, which is set in Depression-era Atlantic City.

Some New Yorkers may grumble about the inconveniences that are inevitable when nearly two dozen film crews are on location in popular neighborhoods or near trendy nightspots. Here’s a bit of advice for those iconoclasts: It’s August. Chill out. Take a long weekend in the Hamptons. And when you come back, consider this—those film crews added billions of dollars to the city’s economy and employ about 100,000 New Yorkers.

That’s worth a little midsummer inconvenience, no?