Daniel Ranieri and Ben Affleck in Amazon Studios' "The Tender...

Daniel Ranieri and Ben Affleck in Amazon Studios' "The Tender Bar." Credit: Amazon Content Services LLC/Claire Folger

A Manhasset kid growing up in the late 1970s finds a father figure in the owner of a local pub called Dickens in "The Tender Bar," George Clooney’s adaptation of J.R. Moehringer’s memoir. Long Island is the setting for roughly half the movie, which arrives in theaters Dec. 22 and debuts on Prime Video Jan. 7, but "The Tender Bar" was not filmed on location. That fact becomes apparent during a scene in which the bar owner (Ben Affleck) takes the kid bowling.

Candlepin bowling.

There’s no such thing on Long Island — and a search through Newsday’s archives suggests there never has been. Candlepin bowling, which uses very small balls and much skinnier pins than traditional bowling, is more commonly found in Boston, where "The Tender Bar" was shot. Clooney has said he chose that area because present-day Manhasset no longer looks like its old self and "Boston gave us locations that made sense."

It isn’t the first time Long Island has lost its starring role to another locale. Here are some other examples:


James Brolin, Margot Kidder in "The Amityille Horror" (1979).

James Brolin, Margot Kidder in "The Amityille Horror" (1979). Credit: American International Pictures/Everett Collection

The Dutch Colonial at 112 Ocean Ave. became the most famous "haunted" house in America when former homeowners George and Kathy Lutz told their terrifying story in a 1977 bestseller by Jay Anson. Critics questioned the book’s veracity, but production on this adaptation moved forward anyway with James Brolin and Margot Kidder. Alas, Amityville authorities put the kibosh on shooting at the actual house. The result: An $86 million box office hit that was filmed mostly in New Jersey.


If you remember Amy Fisher, the Merrick teenager who in 1992 shot the wife of her older lover, Joey Buttafuoco, you might remember that all three television networks scrambled to produce movies based on her story. This one, from ABC, featured a young Drew Barrymore as Fisher. According to The New York Times, none of the productions were filmed on Long Island: ABC shot in Vancouver, NBC in Toronto and CBS in Los Angeles.


Tom Cruise as Ron Kovic in "Born on the Fourth...

Tom Cruise as Ron Kovic in "Born on the Fourth of July." Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Tom Cruise earned his first Oscar nod in this drama about Ron Kovic, a Vietnam War veteran and protester. Several scenes are set in his hometown of Massapequa, but it’s actually a replica built in Dallas, Texas. The temporary town had a barber shop, an A&P, even a Massapequa Fire Department. But why Dallas? Filming took place in December and director Oliver Stone didn’t want to risk snowfall, according to the production’s then-publicist, Ellen Pasternack (who coincidentally grew up in Farmingdale).


 James Franco and Robert DeNiro in "City by the Sea."

 James Franco and Robert DeNiro in "City by the Sea." Credit: Warner Bros/Everett Collection

Robert De Niro plays real-life cop Vincent LaMarca in this crime drama set in Long Beach. Director Michael Caton-Jones shot in New Jersey’s Asbury Park to get a seedy, rundown atmosphere — thereby displeasing many proud Long Beach residents. In a piece published in Newsday at the time, British director John Badham ("Saturday Night Fever") weighed in on the backlash, writing, "don't tell people their hometown is ugly, even if it might be."


Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan in "The Great Gatsby" (2013).

Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan in "The Great Gatsby" (2013). Credit: Warner Bros/Everett Collection

Long Island’s Gold Coast is both the inspiration and the backdrop for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great American novel, yet the super-splashy 2013 adaptation, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, was shot in Australia, the homeland of director Baz Luhrmann. Not filming "Gatsby" on location is something of a Hollywood tradition. Little is known about the lost 1926 silent version, but the 1949 adaptation with Alan Ladd appears to have been shot in California and the infamous 1974 turkey with Robert Redford was shot in Rhode Island.


 Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange in "Grey Gardens."

 Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange in "Grey Gardens." Credit: HBO/Everett Collection

Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange play "the Edies," well-born socialites living in a squalid East Hampton mansion, in HBO’s critically acclaimed drama. (It’s based on the Maysles brothers’ cult-classic documentary from 1975.) At the time of this production, the Grey Gardens estate was owned by Washington Post power-couple Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn, who allowed the stars to visit and soak up the ambience. Tax breaks, however, led the film crew to shoot in Toronto.


Richard Kwietniowski’s well-received indie drama, about a writer (John Hurt) who becomes obsessed with a young actor (Jason Priestley), was almost shot on location. "We did go over some of the possibilities of filming here," Christopher Cook, director of the Suffolk County Motion Picture and TV Bureau, told Newsday in 1996. Aside from one scene at the Huntington LIRR station, however, the movie was mostly filmed in Nova Scotia. Kwietniowski, an English filmmaker, called the Canadian province "the Long Island of my imagination."


Howard Stern as himself in Paramount Pictures' 1997 film "Private...

Howard Stern as himself in Paramount Pictures' 1997 film "Private Parts" directed by Betty Thomas. Credit: Paramount Pictures/ Everett Collection

Roosevelt-raised Howard Stern — aka the King of All Media — played himself in this gonzo biopic, but his hometown didn’t get a part. Instead, filming took place mostly in New York City, including Silvercup Studios in Queens. The movie does include other Long Islanders, though, such as Mineola's Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling and Baldwin's Dee Snider, of Twisted Sister.


John Cusack, Jerry Grayson, Billy Bob Thornton in "Pushing Tin."

John Cusack, Jerry Grayson, Billy Bob Thornton in "Pushing Tin." Credit: 20th Century Fox Film Corp/Everett Collection

Mike Newell’s comedy-drama, set in the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) in Westbury, centers on macho air traffic controllers played by Billy Bob Thornton and John Cusack (briefly seen in a Rangers shirt). Their workplace, however, is a set that was built in Toronto. The Federal Aviation Administration declined to cooperate with the filmmakers and would not even allow set designers to view the TRACON layout.


Growing up in Manhasset, the author J.R. Moehringer knows something about local pride. His 2005 memoir, "The Tender Bar," is a love letter to his town and to a bar called Dickens, whose owner took him under his wing. "The Tender Bar" is now a movie directed by George Clooney and starring Ben Affleck, Lily Rabe and Tye Sheridan.

Moehringer, 57, now lives in the Bay Area, but he spoke with Newsday by phone recently just a few days after attending the film’s premiere in Los Angeles. He said he fully expects Manhasset-ites to grumble about the film’s shooting location – egad, Boston! – and he doesn’t mind that the script, by William Monahan (“The Departed”) strays here and there from its source.

“I hope people will look past those gaps between the book and the film, and see that the film is trying to say the same things about growing up in that era on Long Island,” Moehringer said. “That there was a community that saved this little boy -- that saved me.”

Here is an edited version of the conversation:

After “The Tender Bar” comes out, we’ll probably see Manhasset described in terms like “blue collar” and “rough-edged.” How do you describe it to people?

I’d describe it as an affluent bedroom community. It’s seven miles from Manhattan as the crow flies, but it feels very removed. But it’s also close enough to Queens that you hear the different accents, and the Mets fanaticism is very strong. So, it has all these different communities tied into this little hamlet. We felt like the only working-class family in Manhasset! People in Manhasset are going to have something to say about this interpretation.

How did George Clooney become involved with “The Tender Bar?”

As I understand it, it went first to Amazon [Studios], and they got a script from William Monahan. My involvement was: Do I want to give this to Amazon? And I said yes. And from that moment it was out of my control.

So, no late-night phone calls with George Clooney.

No, none. I talked to George’s partner [co-producer Grant Heslov], who said, “In a different world, we’d like to have you come to the set." But this was during COVID. It was a different moment during the pandemic, so there were no daily visitors.

What’s it like seeing a version of yourself, and your life, on screen?

I’m still searching for the words to describe the experience. My mom died a couple of years ago; the book is dedicated to her, she is the hero of the memoir. To see her reenacted, to see her revived on the screen – it’s a very different character, but there are moments when Lily [Rabe, who plays Dorothy Moehringer] comes close to that fierceness, that boundless optimism my mom had despite being dealt a really bad hand. To see that felt pretty raw.

Do you miss Manhasset?

Oh, very much. I can’t tell you for sure if I miss the Manhasset that exists today or the Manhasset I grew up in. That pride that Manhasset people feel about their hometown — I’m guilty of that, too. It’s just not practical to live there right now. But maybe one day. And I think that says a lot about where you grew up, if you hold it in the back of your mind and you say, “Maybe one day, I’ll go back home.” — RAFER GUZMAN

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