Recently, the production crew for season six of HBO's "The Sopranos" shot footage at the Prime Suites Hotel on Mill Creek Drive, as well as the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Harmon Plaza. In the show, the scenes will be said to take place in Los Angeles.
Other spots used recently for the series have included the Sunoco Station off Rt. 3 near Plaza Road. Town Administrator Anthony Iacono said the production crew has come to Secaucus to shoot three out of the last four seasons. Currently, the fifth season is airing on HBO on Saturday nights at 8 p.m.
"The show is realistic to the point that someone familiar with New Jersey can recognize the sites used in each show," said Iacono. "The crew is very professional and go out of their way to be courteous to residents as well as town officials."
Iacono said that when the Extended Stay America on Meadowlands Parkway was being built in 2003, the construction site was used in the fourth season for the "No Show" episodes.
Secaucus police officers provide security during production for crowd control purposes during all shoots. Assistant "Sopranos" location manager David Chambers said the main input for locations comes from the West Coast-based writer/producer and New Jersey native, David Chase, as well as the production designer, Bob Shaw. They prefer shooting locations that are close to each other, with lots of parking and extra space. Town cooperation is a big plus.
"Part of the attraction to Secaucus is its close proximity to New York. Chase really warmed to the hotels here, too," said Chambers. "The town has all the elements that work well for us. Especially the smooth way operations go, so we can work without any snags."
Assistant unit production manager and New Jersey native Mark Kamine said the script drives location sites. For a murder scene on a boat in a third season, Chase scouted the Meadowlands from the Hackensack River to the Newark Bay over to the Passaic River. He settled on a spot on the Hackensack River near the Auxiliary Coast Guard barge area off Meadowlands Parkway, under the shadow of the Route 3 overpass.
"The area had the bleak quality the script required," Kamine said. "In other episodes, the sublime suburban setting is in contrast to the terrible things happening there."
Kamine said Secaucus is a favorite place to shoot since town administration has been "very accommodating." Production personal hope the various New Jersey landscapes reflect the mood of what the script is saying to viewers.
"Secaucus provides a lot of choices - industrial, wetlands, malls and hotels," Kamine said. "We scout a number of places for each scene. Chase has the final say as to which one gets used."
Officer Martin Moreda had a chance to meet the show's main character, played by Gandolfini, as he was leaving the set last week. Moreda and Iacono had their picture taken with "Tony Soprano." Gandolfini has been quoted on various websites as saying he is "basically just like a 260-pound Woody Allen."
"It was great meeting Gandolfini," Moreda said. "He's a really nice guy. He's totally the opposite of the character. It was funny."