Prolific author Lisa Iannucci has taken her love of film, television, and travel and combined them to create an entertainment guide like no other. “On Location: A Film and TV Lover’s Travel Guide,” released in May, 2018, gives readers an opportunity to not find unusual locations across the U.S. where films have been made, but to also participate in the experiences of the show or film. I had a chance to talk with Iannucci recently about creating this literary gem.
Born and raised in Yonkers, N.Y., Iannucci lost her father at a very young age. Her mother bought her a little black and white television set in which she found comfort and respite. She shared, “If anything was going on, I would go in my room, shut the door, and watch a movie or a television show.” Her love of this medium as well as a passion for writing began around the same time, and from that point, she knew what she wanted to do in life.
Iannucci attended college for screenwriting and then worked for a magazine which was a subsidiary of CBS. She then married and had three children. Tragically, she lost her husband, creating a new path for herself and her children. Iannucci began freelance writing and as her kids got older, she began to travel more. “Every trip that we did, I tied it into something film and TV related.” This was the spark to create a niche travel concept leading to her website The Virgin Traveler.
Iannucci chuckled as she shared that she gets a few odd looks about the title of her site. However, her outlook on traveling supports this unique title. In her younger years, she didn’t travel as much as she wanted. Now she sees things on her own and feels that she is “…doing things all over for the first time. There are a lot of people out there who don’t really have a chance to travel till later in life…” which is why she wrote “On Location.” She continued, “It’s ok to start no matter when you’re starting … Just do it. It’s never too late…”
Iannucci’s book highlights each and every state in the United States, some states obviously having more information than others, but all 50 are covered. She didn’t want her book to be an encyclopedia of film or television scene locations, though. There needs to be something interactive to do at that particular location whether it’s a museum, an annual convention, or even a restaurant, you need to experience what the film featured. For example, Iannucci fondly recalled a BBQ restaurant in the final scene of “Top Gun,” located in California where you can dine and see the piano or purchase memorabilia from the film.
Statue Alerts are also a part of Iannucci’s book. Her recent trip to Chicago with her daughter shocked her as they strolled along Navy Pier only to bump into a bronze sculpture of Bob Newhart. “I literally geeked out when I saw that! … They had the bronze couch next to him and I sat on the couch and pretended to be a patient.” She also loved being a part of the new Saturday Night Live exhibit in Chicago, sitting on the set of Weekend Update and “chatting” with Jimmy Fallon about her book.
I asked Iannucci what her top three places were in the book and without hesitation she named Jamestown, N.Y., which coincidentally happens to be my hometown! Her reasoning is easy: Lucille Ball. Having attended Lucy Fest which occurs each August, Iannucci laughed aloud as she recalled making a Vitameatavegamin commercial and then stomping grapes. “The lady next to me threw grapes at me!” She also shared that this August, Jamestown will be opening the National Comedy Center which will “house the whole history of comedy” and the SNL originators (Aykroyd, Morris, Newman, & Zweibel) along with Amy Schumer will all be on hand to cut the proverbial ribbon. Iannucci and I then laughed about the debacle of the “old Lucy” versus the “new Lucy” statues in town.
Iannucci immediately continued with her next two choices; San Francisco for the Walt Disney Family Museum and the Roxbury Motel located in the Catskills not far from her current residence in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Her love of film history and the behind the scenes information makes the Disney Museum a favorite for her and the creative film and television themed rooms at the Roxbury plunges you into your favorite worlds from Star Trek and Star Wars to the Adams Family where, as she said, “…everywhere you look, no pun intended, there was something creepy and kooky!”
Iannucci’s love of all things in film and television naturally lead to the production of a podcast as well as a newsletter to keep fans up to date. Reel Travels recently featured an interview with Joanna Wilson who spoke about “A Christmas Story.” With each podcast, Iannucci, with all of her celebrity contacts, also features a “Celebrity Minute” where a celebrity shares their favorite location from a movie or show…not from their own, of course!
Iannucci’s book, published by Globe Pequot Press, can be found at Barnes & Noble as well as Amazon, but signed copies can be purchased at Oblong Bookstore in Rhinebeck, NY. Listen to her podcast for great interviews at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/reeltravels and subscribe to her newsletter for up the moment information about all things travel, TV, and film.