Oyster Bay Impersonates The Hamptons For The Popular TV Series Royal Pains


Too bad the public doesn’t know when it’s Oyster Bay or the Hamptons

“Wow,” said Harlan Friedman, Oyster Festival co-promoter, as he was walking to his office in the B.H. Powers building on Audrey Avenue. “With my face buried in my morning Starbucks and my ear glued to my Blackberry, I saw something miraculous. It was a new store, right across the street from my office. It was filled with golf bags and clubs! Nike, Callaway, Taylor Made, you name it, they were all there!

“I dropped everything. I ran up to the guy putting the sign up and as I was about to ask when they were opening… Well, actually, I asked, instead, if this was a real golf store, but it turned out it was a Royal Pains store. Looks like we still have to leave town for our golf needs to be filled.”

Mr. Friedman was getting his baptismal into the third year of filming for the popular TV series Royal Pains, on the streets of Oyster Bay, Bayville and Locust Valley.  Many local residents love to watch the well-written, well-cast series just to catch glimpses of what Oyster Bay looks like dressed up to impersonate the Hamptons. One of the first locations was the Oyster Bay Town Hall that is regularly set up to look like the entrance to Hampton Heritage Hospital, where Concierge Doctor Hank Lawson brings his patients, but only when necessary.

A local resident’s (who’s no couch potato) take on the series is, “I tape it and fast forward to see if I recognize any local locations.”

Meet the Cast

FYI, the actors and their characters in Royal Pains are: Mark Feuerstein as Dr. Hank Lawson, the concierge doctor of HankMed; Paulo Costanzo plays his younger brother Evan Lawson, the CFO of HankMed; Reshma Shetty plays Divya Katdare, a physician’s assistant at HankMed; Jill Flint plays Jill Casey, the administrator of Hamptons Heritage, the local hospital which is “played” by Oyster Bay’s Town Hall;  Henry Winkler plays Eddie R. Lawson, the father of Hank and Evan; Campbell Scott [the son of George C. Scott and his wife actress Colleen Dewhurst to give you a sense of where his gravitas comes from] plays billionaire Boris Kuester von Jurgens-Ratenicz and is the Lawson’s landlord; Boris’ home is “played” by Oheka Castle in Cold Spring Hills; Christine Ebersole plays Ms. Newberg, a Hampton socialite who fancies Eddie Lawson. There are other players that enrich the series week by week including a recent appearance by Tom Cavanagh who starred as the owner of a bowling alley in The Ed Show co-produced by David Letterman. On Royal Pains he played a golf pro and was not not-so- co-operative patient in the fight to save his career and then his life, over two seasons.

Each of the ensemble players in the series has a sub-plot going for them, so it is easy to leave the audience satisfied at the end of the show – in that they have spent the hour entertained – and the stories usually end on an upbeat note.

Favorite Locations

Royal Pains does a lot of filming on Audrey Avenue in front of Buckingham Village [the new concept name for Buckingham’s Variety]. Jamie Dick, the in-store manager of BV said, “They film in front of here all the time. I got to meet Henry Winkler going into Carvel’s [on the corner of South Street and Audrey Avenue]. What a doll. I asked, ‘May I take your picture?’, and I did. After, a woman with him said, ‘Don’t you want your picture taken with him too?’ and she took it for me.” Now Jamie carries the picture on her cell phone.

Royal Pains did a shoot at Chelsea Mansion in East Norwich, but all the filming took place outside on the back terrace. They also used the Sagamore Yacht Club balcony, and created an even nicer second floor area for the filming of an episode. Filming also took place in Locust Valley at McLaughlin & Co. on Forest Avenue. Manager Kaye Weninger sent photos that appeared in the Enterprise Pilot with great shots of actor Paulo Costanzo wearing his signature small brimmed hat.

Last year the crew was at the Oyster Bay Marine Center, using the floating docks for sets, with a big sign on an awning saying “Montauk Yacht Club.” There are photos of that here, taken by Friends of the Bay Executive Director Patricia Aitken while doing their water quality monitoring of the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Watershed area last year. Interestingly, this week FOB returned to that work, after their winter hiatus.

Ms. Aitken spotted the crew and cast of Royal Pains at work in Oyster Bay and Bayville. She took photos on her cell phone that she is sharing with readers here.

Giving Residents Ideas

Royal Pains used Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park’s beach when  they created a Hamptons country club feeling to the site. It made residents wonder why it can’t really be re-created there with colorful umbrellas, chairs and tables and outside food service.

That was the take of Walter Imperatore of Renaissance Properties who manages the Oyster Bay real estate of Charles Wang, which includes many retail venues in town. He said, “One of the things Royal Pains did was to put a Farmers’ Market in the Renaissance Plaza located behind the store Chrison & Bellina, between Audrey Avenue and the town parking lot.  I got involved with that concept for the filming of the show. We see their visual approach and it helps energize us to do things like that.”

And that is just what the Oyster Bay Main Street Association did at the time. They created the Farmer’s Market that is open on Fridays around the Derby-Hall Band Stand in Townsend Park during the summer months.

Mr. Imperatore added that seeing TR Park with market umbrellas and outdoor furniture creating a restaurant on the beach made him ask, “Why don’t we have one?”

Town Permit Process

When Royal Pains comes to Oyster Bay it is issued a permit by Town Hall to use a certain location. They often use Firemen’s Field for staging, even if they are not using it in a scene, said Phyllis Barry, a town spokesperson. She said they also get help from the police department in closing the streets. They pay the town $500 for a permit for using a location –  usually for just one day – they rarely exceed that time, she said, adding that, “They are still using Town Hall on and off for exterior shots of the Hampton Heritage Hospital.”

It should be noted that some villages and towns charge more for a permit. When The In-Laws production company wanted to use a house on Shutter Lane in Oyster Bay Cove several years ago, the cost was about $1,000 a day. Local residents weren’t pleased and wanted more money for the inconvenience and as a result the Peter Falk film used a Glen Cove location instead.

Ms. Phyllis Barry and Mr. Imperatore said it is the individual shop keepers that deal with the Royal Pains crews on dressing up the businesses.

A Royal Pain

Mr. Imperatore said, when Royal Pains wants to use a location in the hamlet they often contact his tenants since the company owns and manages so many local commercial and residential sites – more than 70. “They contacted us for use of the Buckingham storefront,” he added, speaking of Buckingham Village.

“Chrison & Bellina is big with them. It’s just the right spot and Catherine Drabin was one of the first people they worked with. It’s a great activity. Just having that kind of energy coming into town is fun,” said Mr. Imperatore.

Catherine Drabin of Chrison & Bellina, located at 24 Audrey Avenue, said that in August or September of last year, they were using the building next door to hers as a coffee shop. It has tall French doors, similar to a coffee shop in East Hampton. The elegantly restored building at 20 Audrey Avenue in Oyster Bay recently housed the Theodore Roosevelt Association.

Catherine said, “Part of me is happy because they come into town and show it looking wonderful and like the Hamptons, but it doesn’t promote business here. They compliment us on having a lovely village but no one knows it’s Oyster Bay and we don’t get kudos for that. Several of the people have come into my shop here and bought things, but I have unique items.”

She was also concerned that they bring a large crew here, but mostly bring in food and coffee and set up a whole base camp at Firemen’s Field. “I’d like it better if they bought coffee and bagels in town and let the businesses prosper. They are taking advantage of our wonderful businesses.

“I do feel they take advantage of me too. I have to shut down because of them, although they do compensate everyone who they are blocking. But still, they are coming into town and disrupting things.  Maybe they should be paying or donating something for our hanging baskets as well.

“We spend a lot of money for flowers for the hamlet. We hold special events to raise money to pay for them. I’ve talked to Town Hall about it. It’s easy for them to get a permit. I’d like to say to them, ‘I’m not against them. I just would like to see them be a little more thoughtful about the local businesses.’ Maybe they could do a little more, like give out coffee vouchers, or ice cream vouchers or even just making a donation to the chamber. I know they have unions to contend with, but it would be nice if instead of just the warm fuzzy feelings we get from seeing the hamlet on TV, we could benefit from the exposure,” concluded Ms. Drabin.

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