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TV’s The Blacklist Comes To Town

The cast and crew of the new hit NBC TV series The Blacklist sneaked into Manhasset last Wednesday, spent a full day quietly filming scenes just off Plandome Road and packed up and left town before most residents found out they had even been there.

Except for a few traffic cones and a Nassau County Police squad car at the entrance to George Street from Plandome and another car and set of cones at the intersection with Onderdonk Avenue, beginning around 9 a.m. there were no signs that anything unusual was happening on the one block long street or that a crew of about 75 had positioned its film equipment in front of the unoccupied house at 66 George.

Crew headquarters for vehicles and equipment were set up in the parking lot of Our Savior Lutheran in Munsey Park and a shuttle bus between the lot and George Street kept extra traffic and disruptions to a minimum.

It was impossible to see any of the filming going on or any of the crew from Plandome Road, so it left many passersby puzzled. Some thought that the road was blocked off because there had been a car accident while others speculated that a road repair crew was at work. Maxine Moss, the Town of North Hempstead’s Filming Permit Coordinator, who has seen a recent increase in the number of film permits issued (20 since the beginning of June), help coordinate last week’s project.

The series, which has received highly favorable reviews and high ratings in its 10 PM Monday night slot, stars James Spader as Raymond “Red” Reddington, a former government agent who, after avoiding capture by the FBI for many years, suddenly turns himself in and offers to help capture terrorists and other dangerous criminals.  But Reddington will only speak to newly appointed FBI profiler Elizabeth Keener.  The mysterious Reddington – Keener relationship has drawn some comparisons to the Hannibal Lechter – female FBI agent relationship present in The Silence of The Lambs.  Critics have also pointed out similarities between the new series and the successful Homeland cable series.

Spader, who has had a long, successful film and TV career and has recently appeared in The Office and Boston Legal, was present on the set, shooting scenes both inside and outside 66 George. Fellow actors Deborah S. Craig and Hisham Tawfiq, who play Spader’s personal security aides, Luli and Dembe, accompanied Spader.  One simple scene that was shot several times was one in which the three actors left the house through the front door and quickly walked to their car, before driving off.  

Several crew members estimated that the entire day’s work would produce no more than a few minutes of the episode that is set to air in early November.  A sure sign of the show’s early success is that the network had announced last week that it had ordered a full season for the series after gauging viewer approval of only the first three episodes.