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Touring The Set Of ‘Only Murders in the Building’ Season 3

Today AD joins production designer Patrick Howe for an in-depth set tour of ‘Only Murders in the Building’ season 3. The hit show starring Selena Gomez, Steve Martin, and Martin Short takes place at the Arconia, a classic early 20th-century New York City apartment building full of mystery. Join Patrick for a closer look at your favorite characters’ apartments and the intricate work of bringing them to life on screen. Season 3 of #OnlyMurdersintheBuilding is now streaming on Hulu. New episodes Tuesdays.

Released on 08/30/2023


[relaxing music]

Hi, my name is Patrick Howe,

and I'm the production designer of seasons two and three

of Only Murders in the Building.

I'm gonna show you around, let's get to it.

[relaxing music]

Our apologies if you hear any additional sounds

or noises while we're taking our tour.

We're in the middle of preparations for scenes next week,

with lots of construction and painting.

[relaxing music]

Welcome to the primary hallway of The Arconia.

As you remember in the beginning of season two,

we introduced the architect of this building,

Archibald Carter.

He was famous for developing this building.

It's an entire block on 86th and Broadway.

It was chockfull of secret passageways and secret elevators.

Bunny had a secret elevator?

Where does it go, Hell?

It's modeled on late 19th century architecture

in New York City.

This is a very sort of common look

of these mosaic tile floors, which we wanted to carry

throughout the common areas of The Arconia.

Did Jim poison you?

[Charles babbling]

We have to get him to a hospital.

[mischievous music]

You've seen this before from season one and two.

You'll see it a lot in season three.

You can't sell this.

Wasn't this your biggest show?

No, no, no, this is my biggest flop.

Oh, there were bigger flops.

Oh, no, no.

He does have a closet dedicated,

some accessories for Winnie, and leashes, et cetera.

If you look real closely at some of these accessories,

you'll notice that they're all a nod to films

that Martin Short and Steve Martin have been in.

Oliver, we know as a Broadway director.

Not squirt, not tinkle, Splash!.

[Patrick] And this is a different look for this season.

About episode three, we start moving furniture out

of the living room and putting it everywhere else

in the apartment in order to make room for Oliver

to rehearse his show.

Hence, all of this furniture stacked up

around the perimeter.

And we are going to kick ass with this show.

You hear me, Oliver?

Oh my God.

The Death Rattle musical takes place in Nova Scotia.

Some of the characters are these triplets,

and this is the bassinets of the era

that the show takes place in.

[mischievous music]

Hi, welcome to Ben Glenroy's penthouse apartment

at The Arconia, formerly Sting's apartment in season one,

and another version of it for Amy Schumer in season two,

and Amy Schumer has kindly sublet her apartment

to the character, Ben Glenroy, played by Paul Rudd.

I mean.


[Ben squeals]

[Ben clattering]

Ben is a famous Hollywood actor,

known for a lot of franchise movies.

One of the many movie roles that he's famous for

is playing the character, Cobro.

Cobro doesn't live in the gray.

Is he a cobra? Yeah.

Is he a bro? Yeah.

By day, he's a zoologist, and by night, he converts

to a snake, where he can help police solve crime.

Our wonderfully talented scenic artist department

did the sculpting and painting of this from scratch,

and there's snakes tucked away in this apartment,

represented in different artworks and sculptures.

[door knob clacking]

Initial directive from our showrunner, and the first script

about his apartment, was that it had a lot of memorabilia,

that it was the equivalent

of a Hard Rock Hall of Fame volume.

There's Kansas City Chief

and Kansas City Royal jerseys that are framed,

and that's really from Paul Rudd's hometown.

So let's step further back into this next room

that's got many more treats inside.

Fictitious movie, Chinook Rising, a positive spin

on the Iraq War and commissioned portrait

from George Bush, who now paints.

A portrait of Ben Glenroy done in Legos.

It's no surprise that we need a lot of places to hide.

In season two, there was all of the story

about the secret passageways in The Arconia.

Of this season, Mabel and Tobert are investigating in here.

Somebody else enters the room, they need somewhere

to quick, quick hide, so they hop in the armoire.

There was initially a scene of opening the doors

and them starting to step in,

and you see the doors closing with them inside.

Of course, the rest of the scene taking place

inside the armoire, with the back removed,

the wall behind this removed, the sides removed,

so that you can get a multitude of shots of them.

From inside, they could part the curtains this way,

and camera could get their point of view

and shoot right through the curtains

to see Dickie walking around in the other room.

[bright music]

This is Charles' front foyer area,

leads to several rooms of the complex.

We've got the informal family room here

that goes right into the kitchen.

Is that blood?

Unlike in actual homes and apartments,

our ceilings can fly out for lighting purposes,

so it's an elaborate system of supporting with beams

and then sections of ceiling that can come out.

We also have the living room as well.

Debuted season one, designed by Curt Beech

and decorated by Rich Murray,

who's still decorating the show.

It's just really a beautiful job

of a very controlled palette

that works for Steve Martin very well,

this palette of blues and grays




They found this fabric for the sofa,

and that was a good key to all the colors

of the whole apartment.

Outside these windows, we have photographic backdrops

of buildings on the Upper West side.

The Arconia has windows on all four sides,

and so it's common that nicer apartments

have at least two exposures.

[intriguing music]

This is the front door of Mabel's we've all known

for the last couple of seasons,

and come on into this new foyer.

In episode 10 of season two, we saw her starting to paint

over her mural, which was a big step about moving forward,

and I'm gonna make some changes in my life

that is gonna include renovating the apartment.

So, coming through here, this is the new dining room area,

leads us right into the living room.

If you recall, in seasons one and two,

this was a completely gutted apartment.

[Charles] You're living here in the middle

of a renovation?

Shh, please focus.

What we saw was a raw fireplace and raw stud walls

and bare plaster, and now it's been completely freshened up,

if you will.

What I wanted to do was maintain the openness.

It was a very successful design from season one,

where, because of the open stud walls,

you had a lot of depth into the bedroom,

and the set was very spacious-looking.

Even though it needed to be finished,

I did not wanna do a solid wall here,

so I came up with this shutter system,

light and airy, and it looks very elegant this way.

Mabel in story did design this herself

and had the renovation executed by professionals,

but it has this look, not so much tailored to her own taste,

but a universal taste that makes it marketable to sell.

Behind me now is the wall that, in the previous two seasons,

had the mural that Mabel painted as an artist

that reflected characters in the building,

and I wanted to maintain or give a special tribute to that,

hence this gilded frame.

We have a new wallpaper inside it,

a print of building facades that's very, very similar

to the facade of the building we use for The Arconia.

I think there's six or seven patterns of wallpaper.

Most of them have this very organic feel about them.

That does tie to Mabel's personality about her artistry

and concern for the environment and such,

and without giving too much away,

let's just say you will see her in bed

with somebody later on.

I'm not gonna say more than that right now.

Come this way.

[upbeat music]

We can cut through any number of these spaces.

Here we're going out of the set now.

The messy backstage, don't tell anyone.

A backdrop for Charles', this is all very compact.

You have to maximize the square footage of every bit

of real estate to fit all your sets in.

So come on in, I'm gonna give you a very brief sneak peek

of Loretta's studio apartment.

Loretta's played by Meryl Streep.

She's been a gift wrapper at Macy's for 40 years

and always wanted to be an actress.

Where have you been?


Thanks to Oliver, she gets her big break, finally,

but she has a modest lifestyle,

lives in this small studio apartment,

definitely a rent-controlled apartment.

In episode five, she's invited Oliver over for dinner.

She normally cooks her pork chops in the microwave,

which has gone out, and so she's forced to cook it

in the oven.

This is kind of a lot of kitchen for a studio apartment,

but I needed to create it open in this way

so that we could actually film that cooking part.

Loretta has been a gift wrapper at Macy's

for most of her adult life.

So we've just done some nods of some ribbon motifs

of this copper bow here.

There's a quilt holder on the wall there.

There's some other nods to Meryl's career.

She has a lot of books,

she studies plays and theater history.

When your whole life is here for 40 years,

then you need to have as much storage as possible.

This raised platform area, these are all ways

to like sort of maximize your space.

When we're finished, this will strike a perfect balance

of modest yet attractive and charming and tasteful space.

[pleasant music]

Welcome to the Goosebury Theater dressing room complex.

So the Goosebury Theater is a fictional Broadway theater

in the heart of Midtown.

Like most all of the other theaters built at the turn

of the century, when we see the house of the theater,

it has a very Moorish style, it's very opulent.

[audience applauding]

Above us, these vintage overhead fixtures

have a theatrical quality themselves,

as if possibly from a movie palace era.

So the research of all these cedars really reflected

just how old they are, and how long they've been around,

and that they have some original elements of hardware

and plumbing from very far back.

So let's have a peek at Kimber's dressing room.

Kimber is an ingenue on the show, very excited

for this Broadway part that she's gotten.

She's youthful, energetic.

I didn't realize we had any love scenes.

What, we're in the middle of one right now.

Oh. [chuckles]

It was important to me to reflect the characters

that we have in the show in their dressing rooms.

The mirrors do what we call gimbaling,

so they tilt a little bit,

and we can tilt them in both directions.

It helps with camera reflections

as we're filming in each of these rooms,

and of course, this is a very small space,

so each of these walls breaks away as well.

The ceiling stays put, but we can pull the walls away.

Kimber has a beauty product line.

You'll learn in story,

she's actually camped out here quite a bit

with her side business.

So let's have a peek into Charles' dressing room.

It's right this way.

[bright music]

When we were in Charles' apartment earlier,

we saw all of the blue colorways of the living room.

Steve Martin looks good in these colors,

so I repeated those qualities here to tag the consistency

to this character, and so we have these blue colorways

of flooring and furniture for his dressing room.

[bright music]

Here, what you see is the remnants

of Ben Glenroy's dressing room from opening night.

It's been preserved this way

because we were already into story past opening night.

These were all formerly fresh flowers, of course,

from opening night, but some time has passed,

so these are real arrangements.

Easiest way to make them look dead

is to have the filming time to let them die naturally.

[mischievous music]

So this concludes our set tour of season three

of Only Murders in the Building.

Thanks for stopping by, Architectural Digest.

[mischievous music]