HBO recently wrapped up shooting some scenes for an upcoming series at Temple Beth-El on John F. Kennedy Boulevard, but the network’s film crews could soon return to Jersey City.
The show in question, “The Plot Against America,” could feature what is currently a vacant storefront at 292 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. The building, located between Grant and Myrtle Avenues near the Cunningham Branch Library, is owned by the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA).
Records from the agency show that HBO is looking to enter into a license agreement with the JCRA that would allow the network and Random Productions, LLC to temporarily make the facade look like a shoe repair business for “The Plot Against America.” Renderings indicate that a hanging sign reading “Shoe Repair” could be added, the storefront could be painted, and that new blinds, graphic panels, a fake door plug, and a window display could be installed in time for filming.
In a letter written last week to the JCRA’s Robert Napiorski, the assistant location manager for the series, Ryan Ferguson, stated that filming along MLK Drive is scheduled for May 15 and 16, though preparations on the site could begin as soon as May 1.
“Several scenes in our story take place on a shopping district or commercial street,” wrote Ferguson. “We have identified Martin Luther King Drive between Claremont Avenue and Myrtle Avenue as the ideal place to stage these scenes. The architecture and distinct facades of the businesses in this location create an engaging, period appropriate landscape to set the story into.”
The building at number 292 was quite dilapidated around a decade ago, but the facade was renovated and windows were installed in recent years. In October, the JCRA’s Board of Commissioners authorized a professional services agreement with LWDMR Architects in order “to assist the renovation of the building on the property.”
“The Plot Against America” will be based on the eponymous book by Philip Roth and consist of six parts. David Simon is serving as the executive producer of the series, which “imagines an alternate American history told through the eyes of a working-class Jewish family in New Jersey,” according to HBO. “The story follows the family as they watch the political rise of Charles Lindbergh, an aviator-hero and xenophobic populist, who becomes president and turns the nation towards fascism.” Cast members will include Winona Ryder, Zoe Kazan, Morgan Spector, Anthony Boyle, Azhy Robertson, Caleb Malis, and John Turturro.
The show will be filming in Downtown Newark as well, according to NJ Advance Media, which also reported last month that there are plans to shoot on other nearby sites along MLK Drive.
Roth, who passed away last year, grew up in the Weequahic neighborhood of Newark’s South Ward. Simon has ancestral ties to Jersey City.
The JCRA’s Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote on whether to grant the license agreement to HBO during its meeting this Tuesday, April 16, at the Community Education and Recreation Center on 9th Street.
Note to readers: The dates that matters are scheduled to be heard by the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency’s Board of Commissioners and other governing bodies are subject to change.