The Mill Neck Manor, a 34-room Tudor Revival on the Long Island Sound built in the 1920s, last week went back to circa 1960 as a location for the period TV series "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel."
"We needed an estate that was very large and had the right look and the right feel, and that fit the bill for us," says the show's location manager, Amanda Foley, who has found Eisenhower-era locales for the hourlong seriocomedy since it premiered in 2017. Now filming its fourth season, the Amazon Prime Video series about a pioneering female stand-up comic (Rachel Brosnahan) and her feisty manager (Alex Borstein) shot in Mill Neck on April 26.
"One of the features we needed was a very large lawn," Foley, 49, explains by phone from Brooklyn's Steiner Studios, where the Emmy Award-winning show is produced. "And believe it or not, that's actually hard to find. You would think these mansions would all have big, rolling-hill lawns, but they don't, really — they're kind of chopped up with gardens and things like that." The Mill Neck Manor — originally the Sefton Manor, built by Robert and Lillian Sefton Dodge, and since 1949 a school for the deaf — "has this big, beautiful lawn with a sloping hill."
Foley, sometimes credited under her married name, Amanda Foley-Burbank, is unsure of the fictional locale the mansion represents. "We didn't specify, I don't think, where it was supposed to be." Nor can she reveal in which episode it will appear, saying that might be a plot spoiler. (A season 4 premiere date has not been announced.)
Her location scouts had looked in Westchester County as well for a mansion, "but I do feel Long Island has the most beautiful mansions," Foley says. "Long Island is a gold mine for us. There's a lot there, more so than in Westchester," where she grew up, in Pound Ridge. And while she can't divulge details, "There's definitely other Long Island locations" scheduled to be shot this spring and summer.
Foley — who lives in Brooklyn with husband Mark Burbank, a set dresser for the show, and their 7-year-old daughter, Frances — also orchestrated a shoot in March 2019 at the American Airpower Museum in East Farmingdale, where the series staged a USO show in a hangar filled with extras dressed in period costumes.
"We needed a very large hangar," recalls Foley, who shared a Location Managers Guild of America Award for her work on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," "and the museum, when we scouted it, was full of exhibitions and installations and old airplanes. It was the perfect hangar for us, but it was full. So the question was, 'Can we remove all that stuff?' And the [administrator] was really nice and he allowed us to take everything out. We found places to store everything. And it was a really great experience."