Fake Hampton

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It seems that almost every week, you hear about a film or TV show underway in the Hamptons. In recent weeks, we’ve had “Revenge” and “Ringer” on television, and a few months back the romantic comedy film Something Borrowed, and the spy thriller Salt last year, and for the last three years we’ve had many episodes of the TV show “Royal Pains.”

You would think you would see film crews just about everywhere, wouldn’t you? But you don’t. The reason? Read the fine print. Practically all of “Royal Pains” is filmed elsewhere, in places that look like the Hamptons, but are not in the Hamptons. They have found a town that looks like the Hamptons. The 2010 film The Romantics was not shot in the Hamptons. Weekend at Bernies, filmed in 1989, was supposed to be filmed in the Hamptons but wasn’t. Even the movie Jaws, which was supposed to have been shot in the Hamptons, was in fact shot somewhere else. [expand]

The reason they all give for not doing their filming here is that it is too expensive to film in the Hamptons. If you’re dealing with a TV show or a major motion picture, you’re dealing with unions. And union workers are not based in the Hamptons. They are based in New York City. So every day of work begins when the workers get up in the morning and go out the front door to come out here. The clock starts ticking. Essentially, they’re paid as much for driving time as they are paid for working time. It’s double the expense. There’s also the problem with permits to be gotten to film in the Hamptons with our peculiar blizzard of villages and towns and hamlets. And then there’s the problem with the crowds. The Hamptons is a very popular place. Shooting on Main Street is almost impossible.

What I think is that there is another “Hamptons,” a fake Hamptons, quite near to New York. I think the movie people built it. It is, perhaps, in the Meadowlands. Or in Paramus, New Jersey, or in Queens somewhere. Maybe it’s in Old Westbury.

Three years ago, an incident occurred in my life that led me to believe in the truth of this. My stepson had graduated college and was in Bulgaria acting in a horror film. There are places in the world, as you know, where you can make movies cheap. Bulgaria is one of those places.

My wife and I flew to Sofia, the capital of that country, to watch the shoot one weekend. Scoop met us at the airport and took us to the top of a hill outside of that city where there was—lo and behold—a replica of the Roman Coliseum. They were making the movie in this wooden Roman Coliseum. There was a giant Cyclops to be filmed in the Roman Coliseum. And they couldn’t use the regular Roman Coliseum. As a matter of fact, many other films supposedly in the coliseum were filmed in this set in Bulgaria.

At this point what I’d like to do is recruit all of you readers to go on a quest—find the fake Hampton. Keep your ears open. If you know people in the film industry, talk to them. If you hear something, say something.

I suspect what we are looking for has a town green, a windmill, a Main Street that looks like Southampton or East Hampton, a potato field and a vineyard with a winery.

I think when we find it, we should adopt it, take it over and make it into an “extra” Hamptons to take the pressure off all the other Hamptons out here. We’re just too crowded with people on summertime weekends these days anyway. We could persuade some of the crowds to go there on the weekends. And then during the week, we could rent it out to the film studios. It’s a win-win.

Here’s a long list of films made either in the fake Hamptons or in the real Hamptons over the years. See if you can tell which was which.

Sabrina (1995), Deep Impact (1998), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Hulda of Holland (1913), The Flesh Eaters (1964), Annie Hall (1977), Wall Street (1987), Sweet Liberty (1977), Last Summer in the Hamptons (1975), Pollock (2000), Town & Country (2001), Shelter Island (2003), Door in the Floor (2004), Something’s Gotta Give (2003), Funny Games (2008), Nanny Diaries (2007), Loverboy (2006), HBO’s Grey Gardens (2010) and King of the Hamptons (2010).

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