Vintage HBO productions explode in Albany, Troy

In the cobblestone streets of Troy and the corridors of power in Albany, television executives have found perfect replacements this summer for key turning points in American history.

During weeks of production, HBO looked to the Capital Region as a backdrop to give a sense of period authenticity to “The Gilded Age” and “The White House Plumbers”.

And he dropped off a Woody Harrelson on a bike and other movie stars among us.

As 2022 approaches, there is little reason to believe the region will cease to be a staging area for future movies and TV shows.

Created by Julian Fellowes and set in 1882, HBO’s nine-part series ‘The Golden Age’ draws on historic 19th-century Troy streetscapes that have remained untouched for 140 years as a setting for the history of New York’s high society and the clash between the old and the new money.

Down the Hudson River, the limited edition “The White House Plumbers” found its 1972 Washington DC stand in the exteriors and interiors of Albany. Government buildings in the Empire State capital, inside and out, replaced the settings of the nation’s capital during the fall of President Richard M. Nixon.

Production companies found themselves greeted by the two towns, settling in for weeks of work. Local residents who log into either series will recognize the streets and interiors from scenes from their daily lives.

“HBO’s coming to Troy was great. It really generated a lot of business because of the imprint of the shoot, ”said Elizabeth Reiss, CEO of the Capital Region Arts Center, which is located at River Street and Monument Square and had a front row seat at downtown production.

The coronavirus has delayed the filming of “The Golden Age” for a year. But once the local work began, it served as an emotional antidote.

“The amount of energy and animation that HBO brought to Troy was really needed,” Reiss said.

She said local towns need to find ways to harness the attraction of places in the region for filmmaking.

Schenectady did not host any HBO production, but found itself in demand as a filming location for other companies. The Showtime series “Three Women” was staged in the Upper Union Street area of ​​the city. As a result, Discover Schenectady and the Schenectady Film Commission have produced a new promotional video showing film and television producers what is available if they come to the city.

“The Gilded Age” debuts January 24, 2022 on HBO Max. A release date for “The White House Plumbers” has not been announced although June 17, 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the Watergate robbery.

“The Golden Age” Trailers were uploaded to HBO’s and Facebook’s site, while photos are still on the HBO Instagram Account. The savvy viewer will recognize Washington Park, an entrance to the Rensselaer County Courthouse on Second and Congress streets, Troy townhouses, castle interiors, Pi Kappa Phi’s fraternity house at 49 Second St., which was also used in the movie “The Age of Innocence”, the Frear House of Russell Sage College, Monument Square transformed into New York streetscape and other backdrops.

Troy supplied the upscale offices, homes, apartment buildings, and the concert hall circa 1882 which can be seen in the trailers and will be seen in the series, which stars Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald and Cynthia Nixon.

Fellowes created the popular drama series “Downton Abbey”, which is set in Great Britain, before turning to the United States. Known for his attention to historical detail, Fellowes did not visit Troy during filming in May and June, but was in constant contact, according to the producers.

“The Gilded Age” is set at the end of the 19th century in New York City, decades before the action of “Downton Abbey”, which began with the news of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The show depicts the lives of the British aristocrats until the late 1920s. There should be a cross between the two series.

While HBO has been careful not to state whether teams will return to Troy to film a second season, the owners have said they have been told to expect production to resume in 2022. Some say it could. be as early as March.

“I would love to see them come back and look forward to working with them again. It was a great experience for everyone in Troy, ”said Kathy Sheehan, Town of Troy and County of Rensselaer Historian. She worked closely with “The Gilded Age” to provide historical information and find locations.

“The White House Plumbers” draws its story from the actions of Nixon collaborators E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy in a political scandal entrenched in the American psyche. HBO promotes the limited edition series as “based in part on public records and the book Integrity by Egil ‘Bud’ Krogh and Matthew Krogh “recounting how Hunt and Liddy“ accidentally overthrew the presidency they were trying to protect. ”Elder Krogh worked at the Nixon White House and made a brief stint in prison for his role in the heist of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, a hitherto secret history of the Vietnam War.

The series stars Harrelson as Hunt and Justin Theroux as Liddy. Kathleen Turner also appears in the series.

The Academy Park across from the State Capitol was used for filming, as were the buildings on State Street and Broadway. The National Education building and the Legislative Office building were also used as backdrops. Interior scenes were filmed in the State Capitol.

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