Authors/Film & TV

Published on March 16th, 2021 | by Dr. Jerry Doby


A New York Story. A Covid Story. A Neighborhood Story. ‘The Building: Under Lockdown’

Part documentary, part scripted show, The Building: Under Lockdown is a five-episode series that uniquely captures New York City life in the first few days of the pandemic quarantine. Written by playwright and television writer Ed Napier (TV’s Criminal Minds) with co-direction by Emmy-winning television producer Jesse Green (Broadway Sandwich) and actress/filmmaker Jodie Markell with original music by David Van Tieghem (2007 Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition). The first three episodes of the series will be released on the first-year anniversary of the NYC quarantine, March 16, 2021 @ 7am EST via Youtube and Facebook Watch @thebuilding2020, with the final two episodes being released individually on subsequent Tuesdays. The series will culminate with a free live Q&A with the cast and crew on Tuesday, March 30th at 7:00 pm, tickets at

What happens when residents of a Riverside Drive apartment complex begin to feel the pressures of being confined to a building during this perilous time. With the appearance of Covid-19, the neighbors are forced to navigate their new shut-down world and the complications it presents – while juggling the ongoing fights, feuds, and intrigues of daily life.

The Building began as a stage play prior to Covid-19, developed at The Lark with John Eisner. In the immediate days following the New York shut down, Napier re-conceived it as a multi-cam sitcom, The Building: Under Lockdown and shooting began one week later. “For artists, the need to create is just basic. We really needed a reason to get out of bed and do something,” he said. “Creating a show that could be shot entirely on Zoom was born out of my desire to create something eminently and in the moment.”

The cast is comprised of some of New York’s most beloved stage actors: Emergency room physician, Stephen Cho played by Pun Bandhu (Broadway: Wit; Film: Michael Clayton, Burn After Reading), violinsit/music teacher, and self-ascribed “last true Marxist on the Upper West Side,” Midge Rivington played by Laura Esterman (Broadway: The Time of Your Life, Marvin’s Room; Film: Addams Family Values, The Doors), everyone’s favorite Jewish Uncle, Benny Weinstein played by Robert LuPone (Broadway Tony-Nominee A Chorus Line; Film: Funny Games), quirky actress and wife of Charlie, Chloe played by Jodie Markell (TV: Big Love), over-the-top controlling Co-op Board President, Gladys Pasternak played by Kathryn Grody (Off-Broadway: A Mom’s Life; Film: The Lemon Sisters), Benny’s Brother and Q-Anon follower, Moishe Weinstein played by Ken Marks (Broadway: Mama Mia!, Airline Highway; Film: Side Effects), Dr. Cho’s caring wife and public-defender, Mallory Catalano played by Alexandra Napier (Broadway: Getting Married), John O’Malley, a journalist and television writer played by Kevin R. Free (Off-Broadway: The Fantastics; TV: Jessica Jones), and a privileged former financier who is pursuing Episcopal priesthood, Charlie Tuttle played by Joe Delafield (Broadway: Tartuffe; TV: The Sopranos).

The entire series was produced on a budget of less than $1,000. A veteran TV producer, Green says “It’s as if you were to take away an artist’s tools and ask him or her to create with a bucket and a mop, instead of a palette and brushes. We enjoyed exploring these unfamiliar and necessary methods to craft the best presentation possible while separated from our fellow cast and crew.”

Co-Director Jodie Markell says, “The series is a love poem to the experience of living and working in NYC even during the most challenging of times. While under quarantine, it felt so good for the actors to be able to reconnect to the work we love even with all the creative handicaps.”

“I utilized all I had learned in my years as a TV and film director on how to best tell a story visually. One of the most challenging parts was framing up each shot and determining the actor’s eye line to make it look as though they were in the same room with the other actor,” remarks co-director Jesse Green.  He adds, “I watched the city shut down, I couldn’t help but take out my phone and film all these sights that I had never seen before: Central Park, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, completely empty. I knew I was a witness to history, and I felt that this was a singular opportunity to share these images with the rest of the world by incorporating them into the show.”

Screenwriter Napier remarks on the origin story, “For about six years, my wife and I lived in a wonderful old apartment building on Riverside Drive. My play, The Building, is based on this experience. The characters I met – the volume and depth of these people – their histories piqued my interest, excited, and inspired me.”

The historic empty streets of this typically buzzing metropolis, are captured by original footage filmed in and around Manhattan by Green, adding to the authentic feel of the series. In order to maintain social distancing and capture the actors’ performances, remote filming techniques (such as green screens with digitally inserted backgrounds) were implemented. The series will be released on the first-year anniversary of the NYC quarantine, March 16, 2021 @ 7am EST via Youtube and Facebook Watch @thebuilding2020, with the final two episodes being released individually on subsequent Saturdays.

About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, Media and SEO Consultant, Journalist, Ph.D. and retired combat vet. 2023 recipient of The President's Lifetime Achievement Award. Partner at THM Media Group. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, the United States Press Agency and ForbesBLK.

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑