For $46, New York City's famous Sex and the City tour bus will take you to a cupcake shop and Manolo Blahnik boutique. Soon a new tour — run by the same company, but designed around another set of girls — might take you to an abandoned warehouse in deep Brooklyn.
On Location Tours is in the "very beginning stages" of developing a tour based on Lena Dunham's HBO show, which returns for its second season on Sunday.
"We got a few phone calls and noticed people were interested in it," says Georgette Blau, who founded the company in 1999.
On Location Tours currently offers three tours based on shows — Sex and the City, Gossip Girl and The Sopranos — plus four other tours that hit several film and TV locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Boston. Now the company is working to develop three more: a Girls tour, a Smash tour and a Dallas tour.
Girls, Blau says, works as a tour because of the way locations are used within the script. This summer, public radio station WNYC even put together a Girls spots map with 13 pins in Brooklyn, 19 in Manhattan and two upstate.
Those locations include the Bushwick party warehouse where Shoshanna accidentally smokes crack; the bathroom of Tom & Jerry's bar, where Jessa has sex with a stranger after skipping an abortion appointment; and Greenpoint's Cafe Grumpy coffee shop, where Hannah makes, as she says in the second season's second episode, $40 a day of "clean money."
How is a Girls tour born? First by researching demographics — trying to figure out whether there are enough tourists interested in the show, Blau says. Then the team will determine whether the show features enough sites. Current tours highlight about 40 locations each.
Not every show passes that second test. For example, Blau says, Law and Order, which filmed in New York for 20 seasons, didn't include enough memorable city scenes — Detectives Briscoe and Logan, unfortunately, never talked crushes at Magnolia Bakery.
You could argue that Girls, after one season, doesn't have enough memorable city scenes either. But it's getting there, Blau says. And anyway, On Location has a three-season rule — to allow enough time to build up locations, yes, but also to make sure the show is not a one- or two-season wonder.
Blau adds that if Girls officially joins the lineup, On Location would likely stop publicly offering its Brooklyn TV & Movie Sites Tour, which highlights spots from Moonstruck, Boardwalk Empire and 30 Rock. The Girls tour would become the company's essential Brooklyn tour — one with the potential to eventually draw in just as many tourists as Sex and the City's.
"A lot of shows that would have been filmed in Manhattan 30 or 40 years ago are now shot in Brooklyn," Blau says, adding that tourists have responded to the shift. "They used to think it was gritty, but now they're more excited about it. They're like, 'Where is this cafe? Where is this restaurant?'"