Why name a specific street when you're not actually going to film there?

I was watching White Collar. Neil says "I am on Tillary Street, by the park." (A location fairly near where I live in Brooklyn, one with which I am familiar.) I'm looking at the scenery, thinking "That is not Tillary Street." Then two street signs are visible over Neil's shoulder. He is in the financial district in Manhattan!

And there was no plot requirement that he name the street he was on at all. The plot would have worked just as well if he had said, "I'm just a couple of blocks away."

Now, this program films in Brooklyn all the time. The place they were actually shooting is just a quick ride across the Brooklyn Bridge from where they claimed to be. So why not either leave out the specific street name, or actually go shoot where the character claims to be? The very specific street name is only going to be meaningful to people who know the area: the very people who are going to be thrown by the mention of the name, since they can see that is not where the character is.

James Joyce set Ulysses in Dublin on June 16, 1904. At the time he was writing it, he was living in Paris. But he would write to his brother in Dublin with questions such as, "What ships entered Dublin harbor on June 16, 1904?" or "Would it be possible for a not particularly athletic man to climb down to the lower level window of 7 Eccles Street?" (The phrasing of the questions here is mine, but Joyce really asked both of these things.) So when a character sees a ship entering Dublin harbor, that ship really entered the harbor on the day of the events in question. When Leopold Bloom, who has forgotten his keys, breaks into his house through the lower-level window, Joyce made sure that was really possible at that particular address.

I think the producers of modern TV shows could learn a bit concerning caring about the product you put out from Joyce.


  1. I suspect it's just logistics. The write writes the script, preferring particulars and so naming a particular street, and the location manager has to arrange sites for different scenes as available. It would be dangerous for an actor to change the street name ad lib as it might be mentioned in another context elsewhere.
    I often recognize Toronto in shows and movies set in New York. There it would be quite silly to say "I'm on Yonge Street".

    1. I understand it is easier. But I still side with Joyce here.

  2. Televisions shows typically employ a continuity person whose job is to catch things like this. Looks like White Collar's continuity guy (or gal) messed up on this one.

  3. I haven't watched the show, but...

    TV shows have become more complex and sophisticated in recent years

    It's possible that the writers intended that you notice the discrepancy... Neal is supposed to be a con-man right? so maybe he is portrayed as lying, in order not to inform his friend that he is in the financial district. Maybe this will prove significant in a later episode.