On location at Cutchogue vineyard

06/10/2010 12:00 AM |

Actors Henry Winkler (left) and Mark Feuerstein play father and son in ‘Royal Pains,’ a TV series about a doctor catering to the rich and famous of the Hamptons. This is the first time an episode has been filmed on the North Fork.

The past few days were certainly happy days for actor Mark Feuerstein. The 38-year-old New York City native and star of the popular USA Network TV show “Royal Pains” got to enjoy the sun and scenery of the North Fork, shooting scenes at Pellegrini Vineyards in Cutchogue earlier this week for an upcoming episode.

And he got to do it all with “the Fonz.” Henry Winkler, the actor who created the legendary character Fonzie on “Happy Days,” was added to the cast for the show’s second season, playing Mr. Feuerstein’s estranged and not-so-nice father.

“The guy is so cool, so awesome and so game — so willing to do whatever to jump into this role and jump into this show,” Mr. Feuerstein said of one of his heroes. “He was actually a fan of the show. He would watch it every week, dreaming of being on it, and it’s crazy to think the Fonz was dreaming about being on the show that I’m on. But, he was.”

“And … aaaay! Life is good.”

Mr. Feuerstein plays Dr. Hank Lawson, a former city doctor who finds himself catering to the rich and famous, running a private practice with his brother in the Hamptons. Mr. Winkler’s character was introduced to give Hank’s squeaky-clean character more depth.

“He is my father, who, 20 years ago, left our family when our mother was diagnosed with cancer,” Mr. Feuerstein said in between takes at the vineyard Monday morning. “And he took off with all of our money. So we resent him, we hate him, we’re angry with him and we want to hurt him. Then he walks back into our lives. So this season, we go full blast into the pain and rage of a child who was scorned and abandoned, and we let him have it. And who better to play that part for our aggression but Henry Winkler?”

The first episode of “Royal Pains” to be shot on the North Fork will air Thursday, July 1, at 10 p.m. on USA Network. A cast of local and union extras was hired for the shoot. Vineyard owner Bob Pellegrini said the production company from USA Network had approached him after scouting other vineyards in the area.

“I read the script and thought it was appropriate,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “And they love it here.”

Pellegrini’s center outdoor patio is set up almost like a stage, with an arch framing extensive vineyards to the north. The production company changed the name of the winery to Ambrose Fountain Vineyards. Because the setting is supposed to be the Hamptons in the script, the upcoming episode won’t be a direct plug for Wine Country — but Mr. Pellegrini said he hopes Hollywood comes knocking more often.

“It’s about time they found the North Fork,” he said. “They are absolutely delightful, professional people.”

Mr. Feuerstein, a resident of Los Angeles who appeared in shows such as “Sex and the City” and “The West Wing” before his big break with “Royal Pains,” said he was delighted to spend time on the North Fork. His parents have a place in Bridgehampton, where he spent summers while growing up.

“Our show does nothing if not address every industry and pastime that happens out here, and obviously the wineries are a huge part of the East End,” he said. “It is absolutely God’s country out here — the beaches are the best in the world as far as I’m concerned. And the North Fork is sort of what the Hamptons once was if it had been untouched by the … citidiots. But, well, I’m one of them, so I insult myself when I say that.”

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