One night nearly 20 years ago, I got off the R train at Bay Ridge Avenue after a long day at work and saw that Hollywood had come to my neighborhood.
A TV production crew was shooting an episode of Law & Order at a local carpet store on Fourth Avenue and 68th Street and when I looked across the street I could clearly see Jerry Orbach, who played the veteran detective Lennie Briscoe, talking to another actor inside the store.
It was quite a thrill having one of my favorite TV shows being shot so close to home.
I hung around for a little while, but it looked like the crew was going to be there for most of the evening and I finally went home.
I’ve always been a Law & Order fan and I’ve come across a few of the “murder” scenes being shot throughout New York in the two decades that the show aired.
It's such a New Yorky show and now it was in my backyard.
I was thinking about this particular episode this week and realized that it would be rather difficult to track it down since I didn’t know the title and I hadn’t thought to Google “Bay Ridge” and Law & Order.
And then in the middle of one of many Law & Order marathons that crop up all over the cable channels, I started watching a 1998 episode entitled “Faccia a Faccia”—Italian for “Face to Face”—and there was the local carpet store, which has long since closed.
The scene only lasted a few minutes and there were no exterior shots, so you didn’t get a look at my hometown, but I was satisfied knowing that I had been there when it happened.
Now I have to say that there are few things more addictive to a TV junkie than a Law & Order marathon. A number of cable stations run the episodes with no commercials in between, so while one show is ending the next one is starting right up.
These Are Their Stories…
The Sundance Channel actually ran a title that reads “You have the right to remain…seated!”
And if you’re not careful that’s just what will happen.
I fall into this pattern where I tell myself, okay, just stick around for the body discovery scene and then turn off the TV.
But then I’ll want to see the detectives look for suspects and then I’ll want to see them make the arrest, and by that time I’ll just have to see if they’ll convict the bastard and there’s another hour down the tubes.
As I watched this particular episode I was surprised to see how many people I recognized appearing in supporting roles.
At one point the detectives interviewed a peanut stand vendor portrayed by Aasif Mandvi, who, among other things, was a correspondent on The Daily Show.
I had the pleasure of seeing him portray Melchior in the Williamstown Theater 2008 production of Tom Stoppard’s On The Razzle, a wildly funny show that includes the classic line “Classic!” (You'll have to see it to understand what I'm talking about.)
“Faccia a Faccia” also features Michael Rispoli as a hitman and he starred in a fabulous little movie called Two-Family House, where he played an incurable dreamer living in 1950s Staten Island. Katherine Narducci plays the hitman’s girlfriend in Law & Order--and she portrayed Rispoli’s wife in Two-Family House.
Just a few days ago I came across a beautiful recording of Jerry Orbach singing “Try to Remember” from The Fantasticks that includes a series of photographs of the late singer and actor as a young man. It’s a bit painful to watch.
I don’t know if these various tidbits prove anything except that I have too much time on my hands, but I have to say I’m glad I exercised my right to stay seated and watch all these threads come together.