By Maria Rocha-Buschel
When Georgette Blau started leading tours based on locations in movies and television shows 20 years ago, the internet had some information floating around about filming locations, but it was often inaccurate. Now, blogs and Twitter accounts by the dozens share a constant stream of information about movie sets popping up in New York, but Blau, who organized her first tours using books on the topic, said that those hard sources are still more reliable.
“To this day, I’ve found that the books are more accurate,” she said. “There are so many books written about film locations.”
To celebrate the anniversary for the company, On Location Tours, Blau has organized a walking tour of the East Village to visit some of the many sites in the neighborhood that have been used in movies and TV shows throughout the years. The tour visits 35 locations from 50 different TV shows and movies, including a location in the new movie, “Late Night,” which isn’t out yet. The tour starts at the Puck Building on Lafayette and East Houston Street, heads north to East 11th Street and loops back down.
“Even if they haven’t seen the movie or show it’s in, it gets people excited when something was filmed here and then they look out for that show or movie to come out,” Blau said, noting that the company has also been working with studios and locations scouts to include behind-the-scenes info on the tours.
Blau started the company shortly after graduating from college and realizing that she lived near the building on the Upper East Side that appears in “The Jeffersons.”
“I was living near there and hadn’t even noticed at first and was wondering what else was nearby that I didn’t even know of,” she said. “In doing research, I found out it’s the most filmed city in the world.”
A number of the tours that the company organizes are bus tours and the sites are tied together by a common theme but the thread for the newest tour is the neighborhood.
“A number of locations (on the East Village tour) have been used several times, like Tompkins Square Park, like in ‘Russian Doll’ and ‘Eat Pray Love,’” Blau said, also noting that “Russian Doll,” the new Netflix show with Natasha Lyonne, shows up in the tour more than once.
“The show rarely left the East Village,” she said. “It was basically all in the East Village.”
Another local spot in “Russian Doll” that neighborhood residents might recognize is Town and Village Synagogue, which appears in the third episode of the show, but the tour doesn’t go as far north as East 14th Street. One site that is included in the tour is St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery on Second Avenue at East 11th Street, which appears in “A Beautiful Mind” and “Two Week’s Notice,” and Veniero’s Pastry on East 11th Street, which has appeared in episodes of “Law and Order: SVU” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
The East Village tour starts on Thursday, June 13 and is available on Thursday and Saturday at 2 p.m. For more information, visit onlocationtours.com.