Television production looks a bit different this fall 2020 season. The COVID-19 pandemic is bringing a host of changes to the industry (not to mention the world at large), namely a stall in on-location filming. For the most part, productions are sticking to the safety of soundstage-built sets and studio backlots, rather than venturing out to real locales. As such, pretty much every show returning to the airwaves in recent weeks featured a scene lensed at an iconic backlot site, including “All Rise,” which made use of a famous Warner Bros. Studio alley in its second-season premiere. The sophomore CBS series “The Unicorn” also did some shooting for its season two debut at a landmark façade – this one on The Studios at Paramount’s New York Street with a connection to the 1961 classic “Breakfast at Tiffany’s!”
In the episode, titled “There’s Something About Whoever-She-Was,” widower Wade Felton (Walton Goggins) lunches with his friends Michelle (Maya Lynne Robinson) and Delia (Michaela Watkins) on the patio of the supposed Raleigh, North Carolina-area Azalea restaurant and narrowly misses discovering that the head chef is Shannon (Natalie Zea), his latest crush whom he has obsessively been trying to track down. One look at the charming eatery’s strung lanterns, plant-lined rear wall and fabulous window trimming and I knew I had to ID it. I was shocked when reality later dawned that it is actually a spot I know well!
Production designers are certainly proving up to the task of dressing studio sites effectively because, despite the fact that I have toured Paramount more times than I can count and know the lot, especially the New York Street area, like the back of my hand (my husband and I even considered getting married there!), it took three watches of the scene at Azalea before I was able to pinpoint where filming had taken place.
Though it’s called New York “Street,” in truth the outdoor cityscape is a five-acre urban wonderland comprised of seven roads and eight neighborhoods, each representing a different area of the Big Apple including Greenwich Village, SoHo and Washington Square. With copious stoops, subway entrances, brownstones, towering buildings and urban storefronts, the site truly does feel like a slice of New York right in the heart of Hollywood.
For more Dirt on Azalea from “The Unicorn,” click over to the gallery.