Live the Movies

Your new favorite movie? Your life.

Saved by the Max


Saved by the Max, a “Saved by the Bell”-themed restaurant based on the classic Max diner from the beloved 90s teen sitcom!


1941 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60622


7100 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA


I visited Saved by the Max on a September 2016 visit to Chicago, but I didn’t realize until the creators were about to open their new Los Angeles location that I never wrote about the original! So here it is, my experience at a supremely “Saved by the Bell”-themed restaurant. (And, yes, I was a total dork and wore a “Saved by the Bell” t-shirt.) This is the DEFINITION of living the movies (TV) – you feel like you’re really stepping into the Bayside world!

Aaron and I took a whirlwind trip to Chicago to attend a Northwestern University football game (Aaron’s an alum and he and his friends are all still obsessed with NU sports – go ‘Cats!) and I demanded to visit Saved by the Max, the “SBTB” restaurant I’d read about online and had been dying to go to – only problem? I live in Maine. So I was thrilled that I’d be in town while the pop-up spot was still open. We flew in to Chicago early in the morning and literally took an Uber to the restaurant (luckily since it was a short trip we had small carry-on luggage – but we legit took it into the restaurant with us). We hopped in the line, which was important because they only took dinner reservations – brunch was first-come, first-served, and when they ran out of food they stopped serving.

So, yeah, we waited in line for a little bit, which was fine (Aaron only whined a little) and then we got ushered into the Max and I heard angels singing because this place was PER-FECT.

They got the details SO RIGHT. When we first walked in there was a bank of lockers, with memorabilia from the characters inside.  I am a big Slater fan (1% of the Zack-vs-Slater spectrum, I know) so I had to rep good ole Albert Clifford. (Mario Lopez did too!)

Then you get into the actual restaurant and it looks so much like the Max, down to the door and windows and the jukebox (Zack and Kelly’s song, A-12, is playing – duh) and the pay phone. The booths were perfect, and we were seated in one front and center (basically the one the Bayside gang would’ve been in on the show!). There are photo ops galore all over the place, and you should definitely take advantage of them. (I did.)

The servers are cool with you wandering away from your table to pose and snap photos – but don’t stay away from your table forever, because the food is really good too! And they have fancy drinks with fun names, too.

The Chicago Saved by the Max ended its run in May of 2017, but the creators are opening a new location in West Hollywood, CA soon. (They’ve been hiding reservations around Los Angeles with hints on their Instagram!) If you’re in the area (or plan to be) I highly recommend swinging by and having a brunch or dinner deserving of a 90s Saturday morning! You won’t regret it. The Chicago spot got pop-ins from “SBTB” alums including Ed Alonzo (Max), Dennis Haskins (Mr. Belding) and even A.C. Slater himself, Mario Lopez! With the new location in West Hollywood it’s even more likely that some familiar Bayside faces will show up for brunch, lunch, or dinner. My fingers are crossed for you. (And if I get a chance, I’ll pop in too.)

As a side note, when I was a sophomore in college, Dennis Haskins (aka Mr. Belding) came to my college and I took a photo with him. Here it is for posterity:

He was losing his voice because he’d been out partying with Charles Barkley the night before, which seemed so weird to me then and still does now. And never EVER forget:


Written by Christina LeBlanc
Photos by Christina LeBlanc and Aaron Morse

Eastern State Penitentiary from MTV’s “Fear”


Eastern State Penitentiary, a crumbly old prison that was the site of an episode of MTV’s spooky reality show “Fear”.


Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Avenue
Philadelphia, PA


Despite being a scaredy cat, I am a true crime fanatic and I regularly watch and read murdery things. So it was only somewhat surprising that I was into MTV’s reality show “Fear”, which ran for two seasons between 2000 and 2002. In the show, six regular people would be plunked into a spooky haunted location and would have to complete freaky missions and spend the whole night there; if they succeeded, they’d win a cash prize.

One of my favorite episodes was the one that took place in Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary.

Here’s the episode (season one, episode seven) if you want to take a peek:

I was in Philadelphia recently and swung by ESP to take a self-guided audio tour (voiced by Steve Buscemi!).  My boyfriend says that this “was a fun tour because it was like listening to a podcast.” There are various tour options, which you can check out here, including guided and group tours, but $14 will get you into the prison, where you can take the audio tour and wander around at your leisure. You’ll want to spend a little while there taking photos and peeking into all the nooks and crannies you can.

In “Fear”, the contestants have a hub in the Safe House and make treks out to the rotunda (“the hub of the prison”) and into cellblocks 1 and 12:

This place was pretty creepy during the day so I can only imagine how creepy it must have been at night, in the dark, after being told it’s probably haunted. Yikes.

In addition to “Fear”, Eastern State has been used as a filming location in several films, including “12 Monkeys” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”. I definitely recommend taking the tour for both the filming location aspect and just general interesting-ness. And, honestly, it would be a really cool spot for a photoshoot – “life sentence” engagement shoot, anyone? Just kidding.


Written by Christina LeBlanc
Location photos by Christina LeBlanc and Aaron Morse

Princeton University from “A Beautiful Mind”


Princeton University, the real-life college of John Nash, plays itself in the movie “A Beautiful Mind”, which chronicles Nash’s life.


Princeton University
Princeton, NJ


2001’s “A Beautiful Mind” was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won four, including Best Supporting Actress for Jennifer Connelly, Best Director for Ron Howard, and Best Picture. The based-on-a-true-story film chronicles the life of John Nash, a brilliant mathematician whose life is not all that it seems.

The real Nash attended Princeton and the real university plays itself in Howard’s film – at least parts of it. Most of the filming was centered around Rockefeller College, which is located on the northwest corner of Princeton’s campus. Specifically, production used areas of Holder Hall and its courtyard.

When I visited in late May there were a lot of tents up for graduation, so pardon the obstructions in the photos – but if you’re there walking around, you will definitely get that “A Beautiful Mind” vibe from the old Hogwartsy-looking buildings.

The gorgeous hallways connecting the buildings at Rockefeller are also seen early in the film:

The door that John Nash (Russell Crowe) goes into at the end of the above scene leads to the Rockefeller (“Rocky”) Common Room in Madison Hall, which was used in the film as the faculty lounge/dining hall where the pen ceremonies take place. Nash witnesses one here at the beginning of the film:

Of course, later in the film, Nash is the recipient of his own pen ceremony (which makes me cry, obviously):

The dining room looks much the same today, although it’s not a dining room (it’s known as the Rocky Common Room) and the pen ceremony is not actually something that happens at Princeton. Whoops.

Princeton, aside from being a filming location, is totally gorgeous and worth a good walk-around. And there’s a delicious pancake spot called Pj’s Pancake House that’s right across the street, less than a quarter of a mile from Rockefeller College. Go there! THEY HAVE S’MORES PANCAKES THAT ARE DELICIOUS.


Written by Christina LeBlanc
Location photos by Christina LeBlanc and Aaron Morse

Clemente Park and Playground from “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”


The basketball court from the opening credits of “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”.


Clemente Park & Playground
1800 Wallace Street
Philadelphia, PA


Before we get into this, let’s just all take a moment to bop to one of the greatest TV theme songs of all time:

Good? Okay. Let’s do this.

My boyfriend Aaron is obsessed with “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, so when we were in Philadelphia recently I made it a point to take him to the basketball court from the “Fresh Prince” opening credits.

The basketball court really is in Philly (although, technically, not West Philadelphia where Will was born and raised).  It’s in the Spring Garden neighborhood, which is to the north, and it’s part of the Clemente Park and Playground.

Unfortunately it was all locked up on the day Aaron and I were there (I think we were too early; Google lists its hours as 1-9pm), but we did our best and snapped the photos we could.

On the bright side, the hoops and backboards look much the same as they did back in the 90s, and the background buildings and murals are mostly intact from the “Fresh Prince” era as well.


Written by Christina LeBlanc
Location photos by Christina LeBlanc and Aaron Morse
Location found via IANAS

Frank’s Bagels from “Grace and Frankie”


The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on the grounds of Paramount Studios, which stands in for Frank’s Bagels in the third-season finale of “Grace and Frankie”.


Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Paramount Studios
5555 Melrose Avenue
Hollywood, CA


Netflix’s great comedy “Grace and Frankie”, starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, films at Hollywood’s Paramount Studios, and production makes great use of the studio lot. For instance, in the thirteenth episode of the third season, Sol (Sam Waterston) leads a protest of Frank’s Bagels. Frank’s is the best bagel place in town, but unfortunately is owned a run by a bigot (who’d protested the play starring Martin Sheen’s Robert, because the theater group is made up of gay men and women). Sol and his friends from the theater group make it their mission to mess up Frank’s business like he messed up the play.

In this scene, Frank’s Bagels is actually the Coffee Bean & Tea Life on the grounds of Paramount Studios.  The Coffee Bean is where you’ll mill around before your tour if you decide to explore Paramount (which I recommend). It also contains the studio’s gift shop, where you can get Paramount-themed souvenirs.

The design above the door is super recognizable, so keep an eye for it in other shows that film at Paramount, because I’m sure you’ve seen it before; in fact, it was the Lima Bean on “Glee”! And, incidentally, this isn’t even the first time “Grace and Frankie” has used this coffee shop. In the pilot episode, it’s in the background of Sol and Robert’s lunch:

The red umbrellas under which Robert and Sol are sitting are also visible in the above screenshots from Sol’s protest in “The Sign”.

The tables Robert and Sol where Sol and Robert are eating are really there on the little lawn across from the Coffee Bean at Paramount; in fact, I’ve seen Dean Cain and Sasha Alexander there while I was waiting for my tours to start! I definitely recommend taking the Paramount tour, where you’ll see this spot as well as others from “Grace and Frankie” and many other shows!


Written by Christina LeBlanc
Location photos by Christina LeBlanc and Alex Jackman  

Turtle Bay Resort from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”


The beautiful Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore, as seen in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”.


Turtle Bay Resort
57-091 Kamehameha Hwy
Kahuku, HI 96731


I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii; even though it’s part of the United States it seems so lush, exotic, and different, like a paradise completely unlike Maine, where I grew up and have lived most of my life. I could watch movies like “Blue Crush” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” on repeat because the gorgeous Hawaiian settings somehow soothed me. And ever since I saw “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” I’d been dying to stay at the Turtle Bay Resort, which serves as the major backdrop of the film. In July 2016 I finally checked this off my filming location/life bucket list and it was just as good as I’d hoped.

The entrance of the resort itself is pretty grand. The above screencaps are from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and are a pretty accurate representation of what you’ll see when you drive up to Turtle Bay (although I didn’t get a lei – what?!). In the film, Peter (Jason Segel) heads to Turtle Bay to try to, well, forget Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), his actress ex. That plan is flipped on its head when she turns out to be staying at the same resort, with her new boyfriend Aldous (Russell Brand). The same entry is showcased in “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” when Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) arrive for their sister’s wedding with their dates, Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza):

Here’s how the entry looked when I arrived in July of 2016, only three days after “Mike and Dave” hit theaters:

“Mike and Dave” also shows off the stunning exterior view you get of Turtle Bay when you drive up:

This is almost the exact view you get IRL and, trust me, it makes you never want to leave:

In the “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” scene where Peter checks into the resort with the help of Rachel (Mila Kunis), the gorgeous lobby is put on display:

The resort has either moved the reception area since the film was made, or they mocked up the reception area to be over near the big glass windows with the beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean, because now there is a snack bar/coffee shop over where Rachel’s reception desk is, and the actual reception is behind Kristen Bell and Russell Brand in the above screencap.

You can see a more current version of the lobby in “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”:

According to a very nice housekeeper that I spoke with at the resort, the production of “Mike and Dave” took over the whole second floor, using half the rooms for production offices and half the rooms for filming. There are little to no changes made in the hallways between real life and filming:

The glass-walled yoga house where Peter awkwardly takes a yoga class with Sarah and Aldous in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” is also on Turtle Bay’s property (and fun fact: Kristen Wiig plays the yoga instructor in that scene).

In the background of one of the above screenshots, you can see a wedding taking place. That’s totally realistic, because the movie’s yoga house is located right near the resort’s wedding pavilion.

In “Mike and Dave”, the boys’ sister and her fiancé are staying in one of the resort’s ground-level bungalows, which can be found on the beach side of the hotel.

Here’s what they look like from the beach:

And those bushes are the ones Mike and Dave jump out of in a scene you might remember from the trailer:

The beachside bar where Mike and Dave’s family gets drinks with Tatiana and Alice before taking the ATV tours in “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” sadly doesn’t exist anymore!

The nice man working at the snorkel rental hut told me that it got damaged in a storm and is being rebuilt and renovated, but he did point out the spot where it had once stood, so I posed there for a photo:

And here’s the view of the hotel and beach from that bar area:

Turtle Bay, of course, also has a couple of gorgeous pools overlooking the ocean, and that’s where the opening reception of the wedding week takes place in “Mike and Dave”. Here’s what the pool looks like:

And here is that same area in the movie:

There is a poolside bar called The Point, which can also be seen in the movie:

The Point is a fun place to grab a drink or some quick snacks around sunset:

And the gorgeous point after which the bar is named (and where there is a fire-lighting ceremony with dancing and music at sunset!) is where the early-movie mingling takes place:

Here’s what it looks like when filming isn’t in progress:

Beautiful, right? The more I look at these photos the more I wonder how I ever convinced myself to leave this paradise. Honestly, grab your piggy bank and start saving up for a stay at Turtle Bay.


Written by Christina LeBlanc
Location photos by Christina LeBlanc and Patti LeBlanc

Sonsie from “Fever Pitch”


Sonsie, an international bistro on Boston’s famed Newbury Street, which appeared in “Fever Pitch”.


327 Newbury St
Boston, MA 02115


“Fever Pitch” is a very Bostony movie, as it centers on Ben (Jimmy Fallon), his obsessive love for the Boston Red Sox, and how it affects his relationship with Lindsey (Drew Barrymore). In the film, Lindsey meets her friends for dinner at Sonsie, which is a cute restaurant on Boston’s posh Newbury Street:

Sonsie is still a staple on Newbury St; I went there for brunch with my friend Brian before attending an evening discussion with Jerry Buting and Dean Strang from “Making a Murderer”. It had a nice cozy atmosphere, the service was great, and the food was yummy!

I recommend Sonsie for brunch, lunch, or dinner if you’re on Newbury Street shopping or sight-seeing!


Written by Christina LeBlanc
Location photos by Christina LeBlanc and Brian Lepine

The “Friends” apartment building


The exterior of the iconic apartment building where Monica (Courteney Cox), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), and Chandler (Matthew Perry) lived on the sitcom “Friends”.


90 Bedford Street
(at Bedford & Grove in Greenwich Village)
New York, NY

Note: make sure not to trespass on any private property, but it’s fine to take photos from the street or sidewalk!


“Friends” is one of those quintessential New York shows but, funnily enough, it didn’t film in New York. Rather, the 10-season sitcom was filmed at Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank, CA. That being said, the exterior of the apartment building that’s shown in frequent establishing shots does exist, in New York’s Greenwich Village.

The building these days looks pretty much the same as it did during its TV appearances. The neighborhood it’s in is super adorable, and it’s far enough from the main streets that you can legit stand in the middle of the street to get a good photo. (Just definitely also keep an eye and ear out for traffic.)

As you can see in the photo above, there is a little restaurant/cafe at the bottom of the building, which perhaps served as the inspiration for Central Perk, the gang’s hangout on the show. (The actual exterior and interior of Central Perk can be seen on the Warner Brothers Studio tour in Burbank – I highly recommend it.)


Written by Christina LeBlanc
Location photos by Christina LeBlanc and Aaron Morse

Joanne Trattoria (Lady Gaga’s family restaurant)


Joanne Trattoria, an Upper West Side Italian restaurant owned and operated by Lady Gaga’s family.


Joanne Trattoria
70 West 68th St
New York, NY


So this isn’t a filming location, but it is owned by a celebrity family. Joseph and Cynthia Germanotta, parents of Stefani Germanotta (aka Lady Gaga), run Joanne Trattoria on New York’s Upper West Side. The namesake of the cozy Italian eatery is Joseph’s late sister Joanne, who also happens to be the namesake of Lady Gaga’s 2016 album Joanne. Within walking distance of Lincoln Center, Joanne Trattoria is a cute little spot for lunch or dinner.

I made a reservation ahead of time and when we got there they had a table for us on the cute cozy patio, right next to the fireplace. Best seat in the house, as far as I’m concerned!

The restaurant doesn’t make a huge deal about being linked to Lady Gaga, but you will notice a few mentions on the menu – there’s a Little Monster mocktail (which I ordered), and you can choose to add a donation to the Born This Way Foundation to your bill.

I love restaurants that offer mocktails because I don’t drink (because I legit just can’t handle my alcohol; I fall asleep immediately) but I like to have something that looks fancy (my go-to is a Shirley Temple but that makes me look like a five-year-old).

All in all, I recommend Joanne Trattoria for a cute lunch or dinner date if you’re on the Upper West Side! Keep an eye out for Mama Gaga and Papa Gaga while you’re there.


Written by Christina LeBlanc
Photos by Christina LeBlanc and Aaron Morse

The GoodFellas Diner from “GoodFellas”, “The Good Wife”, “You Don’t Know Jack”, “Going in Style”, and more


The GoodFellas Diner (previously the Clinton Diner) in Queens, which has been a filming location for dozens of movies and TV shows, including its namesake film, “GoodFellas”.


GoodFellas Diner
5626 Maspeth Ave
Maspeth, NY


There are some filming locations that seem to pop up over and over and over again in tons of media, but they’re so everyday and somewhat nondescript that even though it may look familiar you wouldn’t necessarily be like, “oh, it’s that place again!” (Did I just make any sense? If not, sorry.) The GoodFellas Diner is one of those places; it’s appeared on screen so many times that you’ve certainly seen it more than once but probably didn’t notice. I was looking for filming locations near Brooklyn in December and found this diner, happy that I could take my boyfriend someplace he might actually care about (after dragging him to a bunch of places only I care about) since he loves Scorsese and “GoodFellas”. A little more research told me that this place has been in tons of stuff, including one of my favorites, “The Good Wife”.

The diner is in a super industrial area that doesn’t look like you’d even find a diner there, but then you turn a corner and there it is. Inside, it looks like your average no-frills diner (which is probably why it’s such a popular filming location).

I love places that put their filming location notoriety on display, so that I can geek out without feeling like an awkward loser. The GoodFellas Diner lists their on-screen resume right on the back of the menu, and they have “GoodFellas” clippings up around the diner, so you know they are expecting some visitors who want to ask questions and take photos.

It really is just a no-frills diner, so don’t expect gourmet food or attentive service, but it’s a fun experience if you’re a fan of “GoodFellas” or any of the other dozens of things that have been filmed there!

So let’s get to the diner’s on-screen appearances. Its flagship appearance is, of course, from the 1990 film “GoodFellas”:

Robert DeNiro and Ray Liotta are sitting in the back room of the diner, in the first booth to the right after the doorway. (This section was closed when we were there, but I got a photo of the doorway and a peek into the room, which you can see in a photo above.)

On “The Good Wife” it makes a couple of showings. In episode 204, “Cleaning House”, it’s where Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) meets with Glenn Childs (Titus Welliver):

(Note the telltale light fixtures, also seen in the “GoodFellas” screencaps.) Chris Noth is no stranger to the GoodFellas diner; he also appeared in two episodes of “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” that were filmed there!

The diner shows up again in episode 514,  “A Few Words”; it’s where Alicia Florrick (Julianna Marguiles) and Will Gardner (Josh Charles) have a tense meeting after Alicia delivers a speech that doesn’t quite land:

As you can tell, the server walks Will past the booths and counter and into the back room (which you can see a peek into in one of my above photos; it was closed the day I was there).

In Zach Braff’s latest project, “Going in Style”, three men who’ve been robbed of their pensions (Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin) decide to rob a bank to get their money back. The diner they frequent in the film, Nat’s, is really GoodFella’s Diner. It’s where they plot and plan their mission and where an important scene takes place as the end of the film.

BTW, Aaron and I definitely sat in their booth when we were there (not even on purpose, just a happy coincidence)!

Among the other productions that have used the GoodFellas Diner are the HBO movie “You Don’t Know Jack” and TV shows like “Person of Interest” (episodes 101, 104, and 310), “Elementary” (episodes 316 and 503), “The Americans” (episode 304), “Blue Bloods” (episode 209), and “The Family.”


Written by Christina LeBlanc
Location photos by Christina LeBlanc and Aaron Morse

« Older posts

© 2018 Live the Movies

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑