Nick’s Pizza was inspired by another popular show – and it’s not the only Easter egg in the series
Jon Bokenkamp had a vision in mind when he first wrote The blacklist and he didn’t skimp on the details. The novice series creator has teamed up with TV veteran John Eisendrath to create an exciting crime drama for the masses. Eight seasons later (and another on the way), The blacklist is still a solid audience for the network. And, if you’re careful, the Easter Eggs featured by Bokenkamp pay homage to its own story as well as another hit show.
‘The Blacklist’ creator Jon Bokenkamp’s previous work experience lies in filmmaking
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The blacklist is not Bokenkamp’s first race in Hollywood. The Kearney, Nebraska native got off to an unusually lucky start. After participating in the typical high school musical theater scene, Bokenkamp attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney and then the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. All the while, he served tables at the Old Spaghetti Factory and parked cars as a valet, according to Kearney Hub.
Luckily, The blacklist creator entered a screenwriting contest – and he won. This kind of opportunity doesn’t come to many, which is why Bokenkamp wasted no time in securing an agent. This decision led to the rewrite of a horror film for Exorcist director William Friedkin.
After meeting with minor success, Bokenkamp eventually designed projects like Take lives, The call, and more. but even with all the success, The blacklist found, Bokenkamp went on to honor his hometown and the shows that inspired him.
‘Nick’s Pizza’ reference paid tribute to another show produced by Eisendrath
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It’s no secret that Bokenkamp is inspired by a few notable projects. He has spoken in detail about his love of black cinema and Alfred Hitchcock, often playing on similar ideas and tropes in his own work. When The blacklist arrived, Bokenkamp didn’t have the TV experience that NBC wanted, so they paired him up with veteran Eisendrath who previously worked on shows like Felicity and, namely, A.k.a.
âJohn was the insurance policy,â Bokenkamp said via the Emmys, âso I didn’t mess it up.â
Eight seasons later, Bokenkamp has just announced his release from the series that the two have honed together. Still, a look back at some of the nearly 200 episodes and you’ll likely find a plethora of Easter Eggs hinting at Bokenkamp’s hometown as well as Eisendrath’s previous tenure in A.k.a.
For example, in October 2013, Bokenkamp responded to a tweet from fans noting the similarities between the ID on phones when Reddington calls like “Nick’s Pizza” and “Joey’s Pizza” on A.k.a.
“You caught us,” he wrote.
This is not the only one A.k.a reference either. There are obvious comparisons between Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) and Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) and the complex relationship between A.k.a‘s Sydney Bristowe (Jennifer Garner) and her mother Irina Derevko (Lena Olin). Add to that the general configuration of The blacklist – a criminal who surrenders with the precious blacklist but will only work with Liz Keen – and it’s easy to compare when Alias ââdid something similar with Garner’s character.
If we looked hard enough, there are probably more correlations between The blacklist and other shows that inspired Bokenkamp and Eisendrath. Ultimately, the former also used his hometown for more Easter Egg Drops.
Other Easter Eggs from ‘The Blacklist’
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When Bokenkap returned to Kearney, Nebraska in 2007, The blacklist had not yet been developed. The show’s creator would later nod to some of his friends, community members, and more on the show. The name Raymond, for example, comes from Bokenkamp’s high school friend Chris Raymond.
âIt kind of became this silly thing where it almost became a game, mostly for people watching, not just in the community but in (global) theater. It’s pretty fun to throw them in there, âhe told the Kearney Pub in 2020.
Likewise, he used the name of an old family friend for Reddington’s alias “Steve Homan” in the pilot episode.
âIn the beginning, Elizabeth Keen had to come from somewhere and had to be sent somewhere to be raised by this kind of surrogate father. So why not Kearney, Nebraska? he said. “It really wasn’t something I thought anyone other than family, or a friend or two, would notice.”
He added, “It’s just a fun way to make sure people around the house are paying attention, I guess.”
Now we’ll have to go back to see if there are any more Easter Eggs and / or TV tributes ahead of Season 9 in the fall.
The blacklist returns to NBS in October 2021.