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Old Westbury's 'White House' sought for extra filming

"Madam Secretary," a new CBS drama, stars Leoni

"Madam Secretary," a new CBS drama, stars Leoni as Elizabeth McCord, the shrewd, determined, newly appointed Secretary of State Credit: CBS / Craig Blankenhorn

Producers of a TV drama starring Téa Leoni are seeking a neighborhood's pardon as they film a fictional president working out of a pretend White House in Old Westbury.

CBS' "Madam Secretary" is using a village home to double as the inside of the White House.

Producers, who have filmed at the location twice this year, have asked the village's board of trustees for permission to visit at least once a month until December. Village code allows only three shoots per address each calendar year.

The village board did not act on the request and urged producers to gain approval from the local homeowners association. "We've had complaints from some of the neighbors," said Mayor Fred Carillo at the meeting. He said in an interview Tuesday they came from "two vociferous people."

Carillo said officials must consider the potential for disruption to the neighborhood. Filming on a residential block governed by a homeowners association, he said, "is really up to them."

Producers offered the homeowners association up to $500 per day of shooting and an insurance certificate to cover the wear and tear of vehicles on the street.

Producers said the bulk of their trucks and vehicles are parked at Old Westbury Hebrew Congregation to alleviate traffic on the block.

Sam Hoffman, one of the show's producers, said at Monday's trustees meeting that the show would build a White House set "if we get picked up for a second season. . . . It's more of a stopgap measure for us to do our White House scenes."

Debbie Regan, whose Old Westbury-based location agency Debbie Regan Locations Ltd. secured the property, said the home is "a cool double for the White House," since inside there are large, light-colored walls and high ceilings. A living room is for Oval Office scenes, and the foyer and sunroom are dressed up as administration offices, Regan said.

Cole McClendon, an assistant location manager with the show, said at the meeting "we've gone to great lengths to try to put the least amount of impact on the neighborhood as possible."

McClendonsaid many of the scenes in the show, in which Leoni stars as an ex-CIA agent whom Keith Carradine, as president, asks to join his cabinet as head of the State Department, are set in the White House. The show, which is to premiere on Sept. 21, has also used locations such as New York City and Glen Cove, he said.

"We don't have a whole White House to shoot in," he said. "So we have many different locations."

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