Iconic Ansonia stars in ‘666 Park Ave’
- Last Updated: 10:24 AM, August 20, 2012
- Posted: 11:05 PM, August 19, 2012
The Ansonia, the iconic Upper West Side Beaux-arts “wedding cake” building, is finally following George and “Weezy” Jefferson’s lead and moving to the East Side.
Thanks to the magic of TV, The Ansonia is being moved across Central Park (and slightly farther downtown) in order to play the title role in ABC’s prime-time supernatural soap opera, “666 Park Avenue.”
The show, which debuts Sept. 30, features Vanessa Williams and Terry O’Quinn (“Lost”) as the insidious power couple who own the posh residential building — and manipulate the intrigue.
David Wilcox, the show’s creator and executive producer, chose the real-life Ansonia to be the TV version of 666 Park because its dramatic, glamorous and haunting exterior and lobby left every other possible location in the dust.
It also didn’t hurt that the fabled building — which has been a who’s who of culture, crime and kitsch since the turn of the 20th century — is rumored to be haunted.
The Ansonia has made appearances in a long list of movies and TV shows including “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Sunshine Boys.”
Wilcox acknowledges that the real-life goings-on at the Ansonia won’t have much to do with the show’s actual plot — nor will Gabriella Pierce’s “666 Park Avenue” book series, upon which the TV series is very loosely based. Wilcox, who loves horror movies, is more concerned that the show will live up to classics like “Rosemary Baby,” which disguised the Dakota on Central Park West as “The Bramford.”
“666 Park Avenue” is one of those “nothing as it seems” shows. Its fictional luxury apartment building, “The Drake,” bears no relation to the former Drake Hotel on Park Avenue. Most of the show’s interior scenes are being shot on the other side of the Hudson at the Cine Magic studios in Brooklyn (Williamsburg).
But for viewers, it will seem that every creaky door hinge and long dark hallway will be shot within the walls of the landmark Ansonia.
Wilcox loved that the Ansonia’s lobby resembled the symmetry of “The Shining,” but agreed with most residents that the shopworn sofas had to go.
The show temporarily replaced lobby furniture and installed fake awnings and signage. Residents tolerated the inconvenience in exchange for a fee that will be used to replace the lobby furniture.
The subject of whether the place is haunted starts much heated debate and drama among Ansonia lifers. Ghost sightings — and vehement denials — fill the Internet and are the stuff of walking tours.
Erected between 1899 and 1904, the architectural gem at 2109 Broadway was designed by Paul E.M. Duboy and opened as a lavish hotel before morphing into a residential building. Seals swam in the lobby fountain and cultural elites rubbed elbows with movie stars and iconic athletes like Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey.
Recent Ansonia residents include Natalie Portman and Angelina Jolie — whose greatest fear may not be ghosts, but bumping into Jennifer Aniston in the Loehmann’s in the basement.