The Old Hollywood Connection Between ‘Chinatown,’ ‘Mad Men,’ ‘New Girl,’ and ‘Palm Royale’

You know The Prince even if you’ve never been to Los Angeles.

The beloved Koreatown bar has been a filming location staple of film and TV since at least Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown,” where Evelyn Mulwray and Jake Gittes sit together at a red leather banquette. (Off camera, it’s the site of the infamous incident between Polanski and Faye Dunaway when he yanked a recalcitrant strand of hair out of her head.) Or maybe you recognize it from “Mad Men.” Most people likely know The Prince as The Griffin, the bar that features so heavily in “New Girl” as Nick’s place of employment.

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Most recently, The Prince stood in as a dive bar in the first episode of Apple TV+’s new series “Palm Royale,” where Maxine (Kristen Wiig) and Dinah (Leslie Bibb) go for a private chat, far away from their neighbors’ prying eyes.

The Prince Palm Royale Koreatown LA bar
Kristen Wiig and Leslie Bibb in a scene filmed at The Prince for ‘Palm Royale’Courtesy of Apple

Taylor’s been to The Prince many times in the past — “I’ve been there a lot and more than a few times forgotten that I left,” he joked — while location manager Stacey Brashear has used it many times in her career.

Brashear landed on The Prince for a set of specific needs: The bar had to feel separate from the Slim Aarons-luxe aesthetic of the rest of the show; it needed to have a darker, tawdrier feel; and there had to be a way to show that Maxine and Dinah were day drinking. “It’s so dark in [The Prince], you can shoot in that bar in the middle of the day,” Brashear told IndieWire. “So the door opens, and the sun shines right in on them.”

CHINATOWN, from left, Faye Dunaway, Jack Nicholson, 1974 The Prince bar Los Angeles Koreatown
Faye Dunaway and Jack Nicholson in a ‘Chinatown’ scene filmed at The PrinceCourtesy Everett Collection

Singular among other Los Angeles icons — an ever-diminishing list, Brashear lamented — is The Prince’s layout, which is a big reason for its popularity as a filming location. “Because it has that horseshoe bar, it’s really ideal for shooting,” she said. “You can get the angles from somewhat across the bar, the back of the bartender. Most bars are galley-like, so [The Prince] is just great for filming.”

The Prince also offers the true versatility of a supporting player. While its distinctive wallpaper, red leather banquettes, and general air of faded glamour, it can become whatever it needs to be. A bar for the 30somethings of “New Girl”? Done! A sports bar for an episode of “Murder, She Wrote”? Yep. A Toots Shor’s stand-in on “Mad Men”? Absolutely. “It’s dark, moody, period — but can play modern day,” Brashear said. “It can transform into elegant or dive bar.”

More importantly, The Prince can be used for anything it needs to be, whereas fellow old Hollywood stalwart Musso & Frank can only ever be used as Musso & Frank. And that made Brashear’s job on “Palm Royale” slightly easier. “It was a really hard show,” she said. “Palm Beach is one of the harder cities to duplicate in L.A. Palm Beach is the size of a stamp, and they keep wanting more and more locations. And I’m like, ‘But Palm Beach, you’d be going to the same places all the time!’ Our country club was six to eight locations. The Ebell was mostly our hub, [but] the pool was shot somewhere else, the golf course…. all Frankensteined together!”

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