There was not much the Town of East Hampton could do other than reluctantly say yes when a Showtime television production company recently sought a permit for a week or so of taping for episodes of “The Affair” at the end of the month. This is despite conditions that many residents described as intolerable when the series’ pilot was filmed in Beach Hampton in September. Back for more, the company is to tape scenes in five locations in Montauk and at the Lobster Roll restaurant on Napeague through June 4.
Fees for film and TV production permits were just raised by the town board, but the extra dollars will do little to head off disturbances to neighbors, residents, and others inconvenienced when the crew trucks roll in. Those in the business say that the money it brings should assuage local concerns, but in reality, that means next to nothing to those who may find themselves forced to stay up all night because of noise or lights streaming in their windows. Moreover, much of the money for catering and other supplies will be spent out of town, making its overall economic importance to East Hampton overstated.
Along with other forms of the commercial use of private property here, which are coming under increased scrutiny, the town board should consider much stricter rules on when and where production can take place. One idea is a May-to-September ban, on the assumption this place is busy enough in season as it is. Elected officials need to remember that it is to residents first that they must respond. Everyone else, even if they come waving a Hollywood banner, must wait in line.