Anyone watching the current season of the ABC show “Ugly Betty” may have noticed some familiar scenes as the show has done some shooting in Queens. It’s the job of former borough resident Michael Anthony to find those locations that will let people know they are in Queens.
Anthony, who lived in Richmond Hill as a child, is currently the Location Manager for “Ugly Betty,” which is about Jackson Heights resident Betty Suarez, who gets a job at a top fashion magazine in Manhattan.
“A Location Manager is responsible for finding, securing and coordinating the locations to be used in a film or television show,” Anthony said. “I work closely with the director, producers and production designer to find their creative vision. I am also the face of the production company and address the issues due to the production’s impact on the community.”
One of Anthony’s recent challenges was to find a restaurant to film a scene. He was told to look for something like a diner that was funky and fun with great views.
When looking for a location, Anthony said he and the scouts spend a day or two canvassing the area. They talk to the owners first and, if they are agreeable to it, take pictures that can be taken back and shown to the director, who then narrows it down to a few top choices.
Anthony said that it is his job to give the most interesting choices.
While showing the final three choices for the restaurant scene, Anthony explained that one location was liked for its views, which included the above ground No. 7 Train. However, he said the interior was a little too plain.
A second location made it to the list of final possibilities because its bar gave it a more upscale feeling, Anthony said. The downside to this location was that they were “not crazy about” the windows and entrance.
The third location, which was the one eventually selected, was Café La Nueva in Jackson Heights. Anthony said that they liked it because it was “funky,” including having plastic parrots hanging from the ceiling.
The scene at Café La Nueva has been filmed already and will be part of an episode of “Ugly Betty” scheduled to air on Thursday, March 19.
Anthony said that many business owners have been open to the idea of having the show film in their establishments.
“I think it helps Betty is Mexican and lives in Jackson Heights,” he said. “It’s a great plug for the restaurant and for the neighborhood.”
Anthony said that it has been a pleasure to work in Queens and that “everyone we meet seems to be familiar with ‘Ugly Betty’ and loves the show.” He also said that it has been a pleasure to work with Community Board 3 District Manager Gioavanna Reid.
“The biggest challenge I face is getting people who do not make a living in television/film excited about having their home or business on our show,” he said. “Some people simply do not care and do not have the time, but if they have a location which would work perfectly for us, it is my challenge to change their mind.”
The most memorable moment that Anthony has had related to the show being in Queens was near the beginning of the current season when a “Welcome Betty to the Block” party was held. It was held on the block in Jackson Heights where the “Suarez house” is and included Mexican food and music.
For more information on “Ugly Betty,” visit www.abc.com.