BY JORDAN GIBBONS
From Kaufman Astoria Studios to Silvercup Studios, Queens has been a prime location for television shows to film since the 1950s. But the Borough also offers a distinct setting that has added personality to a variety of programs throughout the years.
“All in the Family,” which was set in Astoria, is one of the most well-known and successful sitcoms from the 1970s. The tales of Archie and Edith Bunker broke plenty of barriers that were considered inappropriate for network television at the time.
Archie was a working class World War II veteran who was an outspoken bigot, prejudiced against anyone who did not share his views as a U.S.-born, conservative, heterosexual, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant male. The show tackled controversial themes, such as racism, homosexuality, women’s liberation, rape, miscarriage, abortion, breast cancer, the Vietnam War, menopause and impotence.
The series aired from 1971 to 1979, when a new show, “Archie Bunker’s Place,” picked up where the original show left off when Archie purchased a neighborhood tavern in Astoria. The show was actually filmed in Hollywood, Calif. The exterior of the home shown in the opening credits is located on Cooper Avenue in Glendale.
More recently, “The King of Queens” brought viewers into the home of Doug and Carrie Heffernan, a working class couple who lived in Rego Park with Carrie’s father, Arthur Spooner, played by Jerry Stiller. Arthur complicated their lives with his needy personality and eccentric demands.
The successful comedy, which aired from 1998 to 2007, helped catapult the career of co-star Kevin James. Although the show’s opening credits had scenes from the Unisphere and the Lemon Ice King of Corona, it was filmed at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, Calif. Exterior footage of their home was shot in New Jersey.
Another series set in Rego Park, “Dear John,” aired on NBC from 1988 to 1992. Judd Hirsch played a high school teacher named John Lacey, who is dumped by his wife and forced to move into an apartment in Rego Park. The show’s plot is based around the One-2-One-Club he joined, which was a self-help group for divorced, widowed or lonely people.
In the early 1950s, the radio show “Meet Millie” made a transition to television featuring a wisecracking secretary named Millie who lived in an apartment with her mother in Jackson Heights. Millie’s mom was always on the lookout for a possible husband for her. The show ran from 1952 until 1956.
In 2006, “Ugly Betty” premiered on ABC, featuring a 22-year-old Mexican American woman from Jackson Heights who lacked a fashion sense, though her boldness and good heart helped her land a job at a high fashion magazine based in Manhattan.
The scenes shot in Queens with her family showed the vast contrast between the two boroughs. The house that was used for the interior and exterior scenes is on 92nd Street near Elmhurst Avenue.
Lately, the crew from “Orange is the New Black” has been filming at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Long Island City. They have also been seen filming in front of Sunswick 35/35 Bar, located at 35-02 35th St., Astoria, as well as by Bartunek Hardware on 23rd Avenue and 27th Street and Lockwood at 32-15 33rd St.
The USA Network series, “White Collar,” which is about a con artist working as an informant for the FBI, films scenes all over the Borough. They have filmed at Jackson Avenue and Court Square in Long Island City, 45th Street and Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside and at Fort Totten in Bayside for the mid-season finale during its fifth season. Normally, they film at Silvercup Studios in Long Island City.
Kaufman Astoria Studios has been a locale for movie productions since the silent movies during the Roaring 20s, but it has also been a venue for some popular television series and episodes.
“Sesame Street” has called the studio home since 1993. The children’s game shows in the 90s, “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” and “Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego,” were also filmed at Kaufman Astoria, as well as the Showtime drama “Nurse Jackie.”
Kaufman Astoria also had episodes of “The Cosby Show,” “Law & Order,” and “Spin City” taped at the studio.
Since Silvercup Studios first opened in the former flour silo room of the landmark Silvercup Bakery in 1983, it has grown into a full-service film and television production facility with 13 shooting stages on its main lot and five on its East Lot on 34-22 Starr Ave.
Silvercup hosted the productions of two of HBO’s most popular series, “Sex in the City” and “The Sopranos.”
Currently, the HBO show “Girls” is filmed there, along with CBS’ “Person of Interest,” and “Elementary.” NBC’s “30 Rock” just completed production after seven successful seasons.
“Girls” was created by and stars Lena Dunham in a comedy drama that follows a group of twenty-somethings living in the City. The show has concluded its third season and has been renewed for a fourth season, premiering in 2015.
Jim Caviezel stars in “Person of Interest,” as former CIA operative John Reese, who is recruited by mysterious billionaire Harold Finch to prevent violent crimes before they occur in New York City. Finch built a computer system that uses surveillance to predict future crimes. CBS renewed the show for a fourth season, which is set to premiere in September.
A modern update of the classic Sherlock Holmes, “Elementary” stars Johnny Lee Miller as a recovering drug addict version of Holmes and Lucy Liu as his sober companion, Dr. Joan Watson. The pair assists the NYPD with solving crimes. The show has been renewed for a third season.
“30 Rock” was a sitcom that aired on NBC from 2006 to 2013. Created by Tina Fey, the show was loosely based on her experiences as head writer for Saturday Night Live. “30 Rock” starred Fey, Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan. It won several major awards, such as Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Kaufman Astoria Studios is located at 37-11 35th Ave., Long Island City and Silvercup Studios is located at 42-22 22nd St., Long Island City.
Reach Jordan Gibbons at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jgibbons2.