Local hot spots can help a crew that's on the road

During TV pilot season there’s a mass exodus from L.A. as cast and crew travel to the four corners of the country, Canada and even overseas to shoot the mini-movies designed to sell concepts for series.

While such travel can impose hardships, it also leads to favorite hangouts — whether a local restaurant, diner or bar — that can help cushion the pain.

For Chad Hodge, creator and showrunner for NBC pilot “Playboy,” which shot in Chicago, the best drinking hole in town is Bernard’s Bar on the Near North Side, tucked away on the second floor of the Elysian Hotel. It has “a real air of an intimate gentleman’s club — brown suede walls, club chairs, and just right amount of people,” he says. “I went to Bernard’s almost every night after wrap. After about three days they always had my drink, the Aviation, ready and waiting. One of the waiters suggested they change the name of the drink to the Playboy. He got a nice tip.”

Hodge also raves about Chicago’s the Baton Show Lounge. “On the last night the cast was together, we all went to a 12:30 a.m. show at the Baton, which is Chicago’s longest-running drag club. One of the girls in my cast had never seen live drag before, so it was fun watching her jaw hit the floor.”

Al Gough, showrunner and executive producer along with Miles Millar on ABC pilot “Charlie’s Angels,” reports that during six weeks of work in Miami and “the nonstop party that is South Beach,” favorite spots turned out to be News Café (“a 24/7 local institution right on Ocean, where you can watch all the street life”), the Shake Shack burger joint, and the Raleigh Hotel restaurant (“an art deco oasis in the middle of the insanity”).

Fox pilot “Alcatraz” was largely shot in Vancouver — “a great city for bars and restaurants,” says d.p. David Stockton, who cites the Sutton Place hotel bar and the Winking Judge — “a great Irish pub for good malts and a Guinness.” Other hot spots included Bao Bei (“upscale Chinese dining”), Blue Water Café and Earls (“a great sports bistro”).

D.p. Bobby Bukowski, who spent a month in New York City prepping and shooting CBS pilot “Rookies,” reports that fave spots ranged from High Line Park development (“it’s a really cool area with various restaurants and shops”) to the bar at the Standard hotel. “As I’m a vegan, I also loved Organic Avenue in the Village, which serves fresh veggie juices and salads, and Minerva Café on West Fourth Street.”

Pilots on Location
Tax credits driving shows to hit road | Producers pay premium for first-time glitz | The lure of incentives | Watering holes and other location delights
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