As Nancy Meyers is preparing to direct her next film The Chelsea, from a script written by her daughter Hallie Meyers-Shyer, let’s visit the filming locations of one her most beloved movies of all time. Chances are you’ve already seen Something’s Gotta Give. And if you’re a diehard fan like me, you’ve probably seen it at least half a dozen times.
Everything about the movie is delightful, from the charming chemistry between Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson (don’t they remind you of Hepburn and Tracy?), to the strong female lead plot, and the whimsical, Frenchy soundtrack.
But most memorable to me is the movie’s elegant beachy settings and its romantic filming locations.
Something’s Gotta Give is another one of Nancy Meyers’ lovely creations. She wrote and directed many of Hollywood’s most beloved films, among which are It’s Complicated (2009), The Holiday (2006), The Parent Trap (1998), Father of the Bride I (1991) and Father of the Bride II (1995), and Baby Boom (1988). I’ve seen all these movies and am in love not just with the films and characters themselves, but also their settings and locations.
“The look of the movie is important to me in terms of design,” says Meyers, “because I tend to write movies that take place in bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms rather than on grand landscapes. It’s fun for me to continue to define the characters through the places they choose to live.”
Meyers wrote Something’s Gotta Give specifically with Keaton and Nicholson in mind after pitching the story to the two actors and had confirmation of their interests. It’s a romantic comedy about two successful people (in their 50s and 60s) who fall in love with each other in spite of their many differences.
Diane Keaton plays Erica Barry, a successful playwright and divorced mom of twenty-something Marin Klein (Amanda Peet) who happens to be dating the 60-something Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson). The movie opens with Marin taking her new friend Harry to her mother’s Hamptons beach house for a weekend getaway not knowing her mom is going to be there.
ERICA’S BEACH HOUSE - EXTERIOR
Since Erica’s beach house is set in the Hamptons, the production went on location there to film many of the beach house scenes. The house used for the exterior shots of Erica’s beach house in the movie is a real Hamptons beach house located at 576 Meadow Lane in Southampton.
Even though the house is not for sale, it’s currently listed on Zillow for approximately $18 million. It is also the main inspiration for the gorgeous interior set created just for the movie.
ERICA’S BEACH HOUSE - INTERIORS
The interior scenes at the beach house were filmed on a stage in Culver City, California. The set was meticulously designed by production designer Jon Hutman, set decorator Beth Rubino, and Nancy Meyers herself. To gather ideas for the set, Hutman and Meyers scouted many houses on the East Coast and the Hamptons before shooting.
“The house had to reflect Diane’s character, who is a very successful, accomplished New York playwright in her mid-50s,” says Meyers.
In an interview with Elle Decor, Meyers also shared:
When we were looking for a location, production designer Jon Hutman and I went in and out of dozens of houses. We took tons of pictures and laid them out on a huge conference table and basically picked the best elements. We would say, gee, we love the windows from this house and the door from another one. The kitchen is a little bit based on my own kitchen. And we went from there. We curated the best of the best. The decor had to be beachy which led us to blue and white.
The results? The set is spacious and open, a gracious, elegant, yet relaxed and comfortable, Hamptons beach house.
There’s an ocean-feel everywhere in the house, from the sea color palette of creamy white and blue ... sheer, flowy window treatments ... Erica’s collection of seashells and beach stones ... to the beautiful beach paintings of Edward Henry Potthast and California artist Kenton Nelson. “Nancy is very involved in the visual process,” says Rubino. “She approved every fabric, every shape.”
If you’re a Kenton Nelson fan like me, you have to visit his Tumblr blog where he collects visuals of his works and what he loves. Kenton Nelson’s paintings are colorful, surreal, and full of nostalgia for the 1950’s, the decade of his childhood. Below are three of his paintings in the “Swim Party” series. The bottom painting was the one featured on the fireplace mantel of Erica’s bedroom.
And here’s the artist in his Pasadena studio, working on his latest painting for The American Contemporary Ballet.
As to how she wants Erica’s beach house to look and feel like, Meyers was very specific.
“It’s about depth of field, constantly looking from room to room, out a window, believing the beach is beyond,” Meyers explained. “In one scene, where Jack is in the bedroom and Diane stands in the doorway, you see past her into the living room and kitchen. You shouldn’t feel claustrophobic.”
And here’s one more detail about the set that I absolutely love. To make the beach house set as authentically “Erica Barry” as possible, Rubino had 3,000 books shipped out from New York’s famous Strand Book Store. She said in an Architectural Digest article:
Writers are passionate about books, so you don’t just get a collection of spines, you arrange them as an evolution of what Diane was reading: Is she interested in perennials, native beach plants, self-help? In the bedroom, where she’s working on a play, it’s all reference books. Though you only see books shot by shot, it builds depth for the set, making a very rounded environment for the actors.
Here is another photo of the same nook with the bookshelves from Architectural Digest.
The books and artworks aside, there are so many other minute details on the set that blow me away. Each drawer, each cupboard in Erica’s house contains little snippets of her life. Every item displayed on the set was there because of the way it feels as well how it looks. Rubino said, “The details you don’t see had intrinsic value for the actors.” For example, Meyers wanted “to feel that sand is right outside the door,” so Rubino misted sunscreen on the set before anyone else entered it. “The fragrance of sunscreen is so specific, it immediately puts you in that place,” she explained. Also, to get everyone in the right mood before each take, Meyers had specific music played on the set.
“All of this hinged on the gorgeous and pragmatic designs by PD John Hutman,” shared Rubino. “John wanted to define a difference between the beauty, air, light and privilege of the Hamptons; and the gritty heaviness of densely populated New York.”
FLYING POINT BEACH
The beach scenes in the Hamptons were filmed at the scenic Flying Point Beach in Water Mill near Southampton. This beach has a wide expanse of beautiful sand bank, punctuated with classic beach houses and sand dunes.
Below are Harry and Erica on their first unofficial date ... a romantic walk on the beach behind her house. This scene was filmed at Flying Point Beach.
Here’s Harry facing his first walk up a flight of stairs after his heart attack incident. The production built these stairs just for this scene, also on Flying Point Beach.
The weather was cold and foggy during most of the shoots in the Hamptons. Whenever the sun came out, Meyers tried to take advantage of the natural light as much as possible.
And when the weather didn’t cooperate, digital graphics came to the rescue. For example, the rain storm that suddenly came down during Erica’s and Harry’s romantic walk on the beach was digitalized. As much as it did rain during the filming in the Hamptons, it somehow didn’t rain when the script called for it.
THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA STORE
The owner of the store Ina Garten (a famous Italian chef who’s also known as “the Barefoot Contessa”) eventually sold the store to two of her employees. A few years later, they in turn decided to close the store for good to pursue other ventures.
Meyers said in the director’s commentary of the movie that she also filmed a street scene in theVillage of East Hampton (on the famous Newtown Lane shopping street where the Barefoot Contessa store was located). This scene however ended up on the cutting room’s floor since Meyers had to squeeze two hours and 45 minutes of footages down to a little over two hours (128 minutes).
EAST HAMPTON STUDIO
Because of the quickly changing weather in the Hamptons during the filming of the movie (rain, wind, and fog - often on the same day), a few of the outdoor scenes had to be filmed on a sound stage at the East Hampton Studio.
Known for its state-of-the-art media equipment and for being the largest indoor facility in Suffolk County, the studio is approximately 31,000 square foot and can hold 3,200 people at one time. It’s located at 77 Industrial Road, Wainscott, New York, on the East End of Long Island.
Not only does East Hampton Studio host many different types of filming productions, such as television series and featured films, it’s also open to private parties, events, concerts, art shows and photo shoots.
On a side note, East Hampton Studio’s owner is Michael Wudyka who also owns The Enclave Inn hotel chain, the largest in the Hamptons.
Something’s Gotta Give was also filmed in New York City. Within a week’s time, they managed to shoot all the necessary scenes for the movie throughout the city, including in lower Broadway, East side, and West side.
Remember the scene where Harry stepped out of his house during a party he was throwing? The location for that scene was a 19th century townhouse on East 78th Street.
The production also filmed at Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre, the only surviving theatre of the many theatres Lee and J.J. Shubert built for their performers. Ethel Barrymore, a member of the Barrymore acting dynasty, was tremendously popular in New York and London society of artists. In 1928, the Shuberts built the Ethel Barrymore in her honor and commissioned a play for Ms. Barrymore to premiere in her namesake theatre.
The day of that filming, President Clinton, who happened to be at across the street from the theatre on West 47th Street when he found out that his friend Nicholson was filming a few steps away, came over to say hello.
Last but not least, Erica’s daughter Marin works as an auctioneer at Christie’s. For the exterior shot of the world-famous auction house, the production shot at the real Christie’s building.
Nancy Meyers had the Christie’s New York sign created during the production for an exterior shot. On the subject of that, she shared in the director’s commentary of the movie: “Here’s the real Christie’s, except we had to make the sign because they had no sign. They liked it so much they asked us to keep it.”
ST. LUKE’S HOSPITAL
The Hamptons hospital scenes and NYC hospital scenes in Something’s Gotta Give were both filmed at St. Luke’s Hospital.
St. Luke’s was formerly a visually prominent medical center of northeast Pasadena for over 70 years. In 2002, the hospital was closed by former owner Tenet Healthcare Corporation due to its failure to meet the company’s fiscal goals. Ironically, it was also named a City Landmark in the same year.
“Hospitals are a staple of crime dramas. Someone’s always getting shot, so we’re always going to the hospitals,” said Jeffrey Spellman, location manager for “Criminal Minds,” which also shot one of its episodes at St. Luke’s. “To have a facility like this makes our job much easier.”
Renting out unused space to film productions helps hospitals earn an additional source of income. Film companies currently pay $5,000 to $12,000 a day to rent hospital space. St. Vincent Medical Center, the working hospital in downtown Los Angeles often used by crime dramas such as CSI, The Closer and Southland, takes in over $100,000 a year from film rentals. “It generates extra revenue for us,Ғ said Jody Spector, director of guest relations at St. Vincent. “They use extra space and apart from the trucks outside often our patients don’t even know they’re here.”
Hollywood loves using real hospitals as film locations. “These properties are affordable, they’re turn-key and they’re ready to go and directors love them because they offer a variety of looks,” said Gary Onyshko, Real to Reel’s president and chief executive. Real to Reel is a 30-year-old Van Nuys location agency that helps location managers with something they frequently seek: film-ready hospital settings.
Since closing its doors as a hospital, St. Luke’s has found a new vocation as a film location. Many movie productions have filmed there including Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning Million Dollar Baby, 24, Desperate Housewives, Dexter, Criminal Minds, True Blood, Kill Bill, Rush Hour 3, and of course … Something’s Gotta Give.
Even though much of the movie was filmed on location, the production also shot at the WB Studio. The scene where Erica was running out of a restaurant, upset because she saw Harry on a date with another young woman was filmed at one of the WB Studio’s exterior sets.
HOTEL PLAZA ATHENEE PARIS
And last but not least, is Paris. Meyers and company flew to the City of Lights to film the last few scenes of the movie in Paris.
One of the movie’s filming locations in Paris was the Hotel Plaza Athenee Paris, one of the most elegant hotels in the world. The hotel is the center of social and cultural life in Paris and also a magnet for the film industry. The Plaza Athenee has been used as a filming location numerous times, including Rush Hour 3, L’Arnacoeur (The Heartbreaker), Paris Manhattan, Sex and the City,and of course ... Something’s Gotta Give.
Here’s Jack walking out of the Hotel Plaza Athenee in search of the woman he loves.
The Eiffel Tower in the back was digitally added to the scene to give viewers a sense of place.
Erica’s birthday dinner was at her favorite Paris restaurant Le Grand Colbert. For the scenes at this restaurant, the production went on location to Paris and filmed at the real Le Grand Colbert. Can’t get more authentic than that!
Both interior and exterior scenes were shot at Le Grand Colbert.
At the end of the movie, Harry took a walk from the restaurant to the Pont d’Arcole ... alone. He finally gets to experience for himself what “heartbroken” really feels like.
Just in case you haven’t seen Something’s Gotta Give yet, I won’t spoil it too much by telling you the entire ending. You just have to see it for yourself. It will be a lovely experience. I promise!
ON FILMING IN CALIFORNIA, NEW YORK AND PARIS
For more information filming in the locations mentioned in this article, visit the following websites: