So much for the image of couch potatoes. Television-themed tourism has taken off in recent months, drawing fans of current hits from around the world. (Even old shows draw crowds—a Seinfeld trek through Manhattan lures more than 100 visitors each week, though the sitcom left prime time in 1998.) Says Georgette Blau, president of New York City’s On Location Tours, ”The characters on shows like The Sopranos are so endearing, people want to go where Tony goes.” Just so long as they don’t want to do what Tony does. Here’s the skinny on some of the latest TV destinations.
If you’re interested in the cultural highlights of northern New Jersey, fuhgeddaboudit. But if you’re curious about where Livia Soprano is buried, or the Skyway Diner, where made man Christopher was shot, then check out On Location’s $30, three-hour sojourn, which debuted last March (212-334-0492). ”Does anyone believe Big Pussy is coming back to life?” asks tough-talking guide Ray as the bus zips from Manhattan through the Lincoln Tunnel. Highlight: the real strip joint that doubles as Tony’s Bada Bing club. Plus everyone gets an authentic Jersey-made cannoli.
Last fall, one of Japan’s largest travel agencies offered a six-day, three-city tour aimed at college students obsessed with the Fox series. As part of the $1,300 package, X-Philes visited FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., then jetted off to Vancouver, where the show was once shot, and then to L.A. for locations from 1998’s X-Files film. Why the X-mania? ”It’s a favorite because it’s about extraterrestrials and UFOs,” says Nippon Travel Agency’s Takeshi Sakakibara. ”The Japanese people are very interested in these things.” Guess the truth really is out there.
SEX AND THE CITY
On Sept. 13, On Location will introduce a tour simulating Sarah Jessica Parker’s HBO hit—minus the sex (212-334-0492). What do you get for the $25 cover charge? Two and a half hours on a bus with stops at restaurants, bars, and shopping emporiums featured on the show, including chic night spots like Union Square’s Coffee Shop and Tribeca’s Layla. No cannoli, but Cosmopolitans will be served at a still-undisclosed bar. Mr. Big not included.