There are rumors afoot that Ugly Betty, the ABC dramedy set inside a gay person's head, will shoot its next season on location in New York. This makes perfect sense. An insider at the show says it's cheaper to shoot on location (really?), but here's our theory: these days, what with the internet at all, it's also a great marketing strategy. Look at a show like Gossip Girl, which is constantly showing up in tabloids and on, um, gossip blogs when they're filming around town. Free publicity! A cigar-chomping network executive's dream! Even a show like 30 Rock, which isn't exactly tabloid fodder, surely benefits from a few sightings once in a while. Shooting on location also offers a sense of immediacy just that isn't there on a studio backdrop (or green screen) or in a script written in a faraway writer's room.
On last night's Gossip Girl, they were able to toss off references to Tinsley Mortimer, the Waverly Inn, and Page Six (among lots of others) with the ease of an up-on-the-gossip local. It just feels a bit more organic. Couple these timely references with all the around-town sightings and paparazzi photos, and you blur the line between the reality and the fiction. Coverage of the show is everywhere and multi-faceted. It's like living the show in real-time! If blogs and whatnot are chattering away about where a show is filming, who saw who where, etc. then you've got instant, sort of "unearned" buzz. And, yeah, it's basically free. This may seem annoying to some, but it does get people curious and watching. This isn't to say that Ugly Betty has quite the same rabid cult following as teeny drip shows like Gossip Girl, or that the solid hit needs much help, but still the potential is there for some "oh look there they are!" excitement. Plus, on location just looks better. Oh Michael Urie, where aaare youuu?