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Heather Burns’s East Village

HBOCourtesy of HBO.

“I first visited New York City when I was 17 years old, and it was love at first sight,” explains actress Heather Burns. Though she plays Leah, the quintessential Brooklynite (and the girlfriend of Zach Galifianakis’s character) on HBO’s “Bored to Death,” the East Village has been her home for 18 years. When she became a student at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, the Chicago native landed a rent-stabilized apartment on St. Marks Place and never left. These days, she’s engaged to fellow “Bored to Death” actor Ajay Naidu and gearing up for the third season of her hit show — premiering Sunday, October 10 — by visiting plenty of local hotspots. Read more…

Watch a Scene From ‘Ashes,’ Ajay Naidu’s Ode to the East Village, Playing Tonight

Scene contains strong language that may not be safe for work. Courtesy of Frontstoop Films.

Ajay Naidu uses his St. Marks Place apartment for more than just people-watching: It’s prominently featured in the actor’s directorial debut, “Ashes,” which screens tonight at the New York International Latino Film Festival. The walk-up (Mr. Naidu’s home since 1995) is where the character he plays, Ashes, tends to his schizophrenic brother, Kartik (played by Faran Tahir of “Iron Man” notoriety) and where Kartik awkwardly courts a similarly troubled woman, Bettina (played by another East Village resident, Piper Perabo).

Mr. Naidu said that he decided to set “Ashes” in the East Village circa 2006, in part because at the time “there was a vast dichotomy of wealth distribution that made it possible for people to slip through the cracks.”

Add to that, the character of the neighborhood: “There was a more personal feeling to the Village,” said Mr. Naidu. “It felt more like a neighborhood as opposed to a place where a bunch of young rich people came and bought a piece of the charm.” Read more…