FBI: Most Wanted Films in Rockaway
By Dan Guarino
Curious surfers and boardwalkers may have thought an entire battalion of federal personnel had swarmed down on Rockaway early on Monday morning, January 29.
In actuality, it was lights, camera and surf as the crime drama “FBI: Most Wanted” came down to do some location shooting at the ocean’s edge.
Early risers noted a nearly continuous caravan of more than 30 trailers, trucks and vans stretched along Shore Front Parkway from Beach 106th Street to Beach 85th Street. Cables, lights, outdoor heaters, camera, sound and set equipment poured over the boardwalk to support the CBS show’s on-location shooting of scenes at the shoreline near the jetty near Beach 92nd Street.
“I’ve been here since 4 a.m.,” said one of the production’s crewmembers. With temperatures just edging the low 40s by 9 a.m., most wore warm padded work clothes and toted hot coffee from the onsite craft services food truck.
Pointing to a large camera mounted on a crane with thick tires, a hefty boom microphone and whole crowd of production people near the waves, one worker was asked how many actors were being filmed.
“I think two,” he said. And how many production people were there? “About a hundred,” he replied. It was unclear which, if any, of the stars of the show were on hand. Produced by Universal Television LLC, which handled Monday’s shoot, “FBI: Most Wanted” stars include Roxy Sternberg, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Alexa Davalos and Dylan McDermott.
Back on the sand, a wet-suited young woman balancing a surfboard on her head stopped by while strolling past the crowd. A crewperson appeared to be politely answering her questions about the hubbub on the beach before she nonchalantly walked on. Other Rockawayites, either walking their dogs, jogging down the boardwalk or peering from apartment windows, expressed a mild interest, then took it in stride.
Closer to the boardwalk, the production crew had dug a large pit. “We’re filming a drowning scene,” a worker explained. “We’re filling it with warm water, so we don’t have to have the actors shooting in the ice cold (ocean) water.”
“FBI: Most Wanted,” which premiered in 2020, is now in its fourth season and slated for a fifth. A spinoff of the “FBI” franchise conceived by decades-spanning hit producer Dick Wolf, who also created the “Law & Order” and “Chicago” franchises, “Most Wanted” was created by Rene Balcer.
CBS describes it as “a high-stakes drama that focuses on the Fugitive Task Force,” that “tracks and captures the notorious criminals on the Bureau’s Most Wanted list.”
Near bright orange NYPD “No Parking” notices, Universal posted notices explaining the production and giving their location manager’s number for any resident concerns. One of those concerns was parking.
Councilwoman Joanne Ariola’s office announced they had “brokered a deal with (Universal), NYPD, DSNY and Parks…to use the beach side of Shore Front Parkway to stage several dozen production vehicles” and free up some 100 spots for residents’ use elsewhere.
Rockaway has often been a popular location for film and television crews, and that interest continues to grow. Now stay tuned for its dramatic fifth season appearance on “FBI: Most Wanted,” Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.
Photos by Dan Guarino.