Tag Archives: hollywood

Queens casting underway for major Hollywood film

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

File photo

The next child star could be found in one of our very own neighborhoods.

Chrystie Street Casting is currently looking for children and young teens ages 10 to 14 in a casting search to fill seven roles in a major Hollywood movie set to be shot in the summer of 2015. Although information on the upcoming film’s plot and the identity of its director is being kept confidential, the lead of the film will be cast from children responding to the open call.

All physical types and ethnicities are encouraged to send in submissions. According to casting director Suzanne Smith, the agency has already gone through rounds of auditions with child actors with professional representation, and is now looking for youths specifically from the Queens area.

The casting directors conducting the search have worked on high-profile, critically acclaimed projects in the past, such as Oscar-winning films “Precious” and “Good Will Hunting,” along with recent commercial smash “The Wolverine,” which starred Hugh Jackman in the title role.

Representatives of the casting firm say that emphasizing the individuality of the child is the best way for parents to showcase potential star quality in photo submissions.

“There’s so many different types of roles we’re casting. Don’t try too hard to force yourself into one of them,” said Rebecca Dealy, an associate at Chrystie Street Casting involved with the open call. “Just show us who you are, because you are interesting!”

Phone calls to the agency will not be accepted. Instead, interested parties should send a recent photo along with their age and contact information to Hollywoodkidsearch@gmail.com.

The following roles are being sought in the open call:

[ERIC] Male, 10-12 years old. The lead of our film. Shyer than his friends. Loves to draw.

[STEVEN] Male, 10-12 years old. The leader of the group. Athletic. Starting to think he may be cooler than his friends.

[ALAN] Male, 10-12 years old. Funny. Loves classic rock and drumming. Trying desperately to be cool.

[MARK] Male, 10-12 years old. In his awkward stage. Loves math and Minecraft.

[JOCK] Male, 13-15 years old. Smart aleck. Athletic.

[LINDA] Female, 10-12 years old. A tomboy that likes to hang with the boys. A bit pushy, always trying to get her way but still a good friend.

[JENNI] Female, 12-14 years old. A nice girl. Imaginative. Has a sparkle in her eyes and loves to laugh.


Adam Sandler film shooting in Glendale

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Angela George/Wikimedia Commons

Hollywood is coming to Glendale.

“The Cobbler” starring native New Yorkers Adam Sandler and Steve Buscemi, and will be filming in the neighborhood, according to a representative of Slow Pony, the production company. Film star Dustin Hoffman has a role in the movie as well.

The cameras will be rolling on the intersection of 79th Street and 77th Avenue on Dec. 11, 13 and 14, according to reports.

The movie is a comedy, where Sandler acts as a repairman who assimilates himself into his customer’s lives, the website The Wrap said.

Tom McCarthy, who wrote “Up,” “Win Win” and “The Visitor” is directing the film. Rapper and entertainer Method Man, another New Yorker, will also be in the movie. The movie is being filmed at other locations around the city.




Queens is the new Hollywood

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of CBS

Film crews unloaded crates of props and racks of costumes from the enormous trucks lining 35th Street next to Kaufman Astoria Studios. Neon notices posted on parking signs up and down both sides of the thoroughfare alerted residents that “Nurse Jackie,” the Showtime series starring Edie Falco, would be filming on that street over the next few days.

Western Queens, home to several of the city’s biggest film studios, has experienced an upswing in recent on-location shoots around the neighborhood, appearing as the backdrop for hit shows like “30 Rock,” “Gossip Girl” and “Person of Interest.” But consumed parking spots and increased traffic have locals and politicians questioning whether or not Hollywood’s existence in western Queens is symbiotic or parasitic.

Councilmember Peter Vallone said he became skeptical of the film industry’s presence after spotting illegitimate “No Parking” signs along both sides of 31st Street and on 23rd Avenue from 33rd Street to 28th Street, one of the most congested business areas in Queens. Vallone claimed the signs, which traced back to a Netflix original production called “Orange is the New Black,” were posted outside of the time designated to them by the Mayor’s Office of Film.

Vallone, while interested in helping to facilitate the movie and television industry, is adamant that crews respect the locals who call their on-and-off sets “home.”

“This is an industry that we like and want to cooperate with as much as possible,” said Vallone. “We want to make sure when they film in our neighborhood, they cause as little aggravation as possible for neighbors and business owners.”

According to Mayor’s Office of Film spokesperson Marybeth Ihle, the entertainment production industry employs over 130,000 New Yorkers and contributes $7.1 billion to the city’s economy each year.

“Whenever you see a film crew on your block, whether it’s the camera operator, costume designer or caterer, you’re really seeing your fellow New Yorkers hard at work,” said Ihle.

Production levels are on the rise throughout New York City, according to Ihle. At least 24 prime time television series are filming their current seasons in the Big Apple. Ihle said the Office of Film seeks to find a balance between the needs of the industry and those of the community.

According to Ihle, filming locations are determined by scouts who work with the director and producers to determine and secure the best location based on the needs of the script.

Western Queens isn’t the only film-worthy destination in the borough. Douglas Manor, a historic section of Douglaston regarded for its isolation and the unique architecture of its homes, has provided the scenery for countless movies and television shows, including CBS’s “Blue Bloods” and NBC’s “Person of Interest” and the recent Nicole Kidman art-house flick, “Rabbit Hole.” Currently, the “Sex and the City” prequel, called “The Carrie Diaries” is filming in Douglas Manor.

A neighborhood representative of Douglas Manor said the community is split between those who don’t mind sharing their streets with film crews and those who do. While filming locations are chosen by the city and not Douglas Manor residents, the representative said local officials attempt to soften the impact the industry has on their neighborhood.

“We try to make it so their presence isn’t overwhelming to the community,” said the representative. “We appreciate them working with us and listening to the needs of the community and reaching out to us.”

Mira Castillo, a manager at Café Bar on 36th Street in Astoria said many daytime patrons at her restaurant are studio employees on their lunch break and the film industry’s presence in the neighborhood boosts business.

“A lot of our day business relies on their business,” said Castillo.

But, it’s not just in-house patrons who are getting a midday meal from Café Bar. Castillo said her restaurant delivers daily to nearby Silvercup Studio.

“[The film industry’s presence] is a good thing,” said Castillo. “It feels like we’re a part of their process and helping get their jobs done.”

Recently, Café Bar was asked by a film company if scenes for a new television show could be shot inside their restaurant. Castillo said they had yet to make a final decision.

Hollywood in Queens? Kaufman Astoria Studios fighting to expand

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Kaufman Astoria Studios

A second take on a review process is preventing Kaufman Astoria Studios from calling “action” on their planned expansion – a project which has already been green-lit once before.

Senator Charles Schumer is urging the National Park Service (NPS) to authorize Kaufman’s proposal, which would create New York City’s first outdoor movie studio lot.

Kaufman plans to enclose 36th Street between 34th and 35th avenues within the lot and construct an entry gate at 36th Street and 35th Avenue in Astoria, creating a studio campus similar to those in Hollywood.

The outdoor lot will allow production companies to film exterior and special effects shots directly adjacent to interior sound stages, attracting movie and television clients that would have previously chosen another location to fulfill their needs.

Schumer is hoping the NPS, which deeded the land to the city in the 1970s for the purpose of building the outdoor studio, will act quickly to allow the space to be available for filming by the summer of 2013.

Kaufman has already received approval through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) – a local process which includes authorization from the NPS, Landmarks Preservation Commission and State Historic Preservation Office. However, due to the institution of changes requested by the city’s Public Design Commission, which wanted to give the area a more “gritty, industrial feel” by altering the gate, the NPS informed Kaufman that they had to review the project again. Schumer says the second assessment could push the $2 million project four months behind schedule.

“It’s time to say ‘action’ on this project, so that New York City can become the new star of the film and television industry,” said Schumer. “By building the city’s first ever outdoor studio lot, we can attract film and TV clients that would otherwise have to choose Los Angeles. We can provide a huge boost to New York’s booming film and television industries by getting this project completed so that major production companies can begin using the studio by summer of next year. This outdoor lot could become an iconic New York City destination like the great studios of Hollywood, but the NPS needs to stop the needless bureaucratic delays and allow this project to move forward.”

Despite Schumer’s concern, Jane Ahern, a spokesperson for NPS, says the service expects the project to continue on schedule.

“We are happy to report that all of the parties involved are working together,” Ahern said. “The NPS and all entities are supporting the project moving forward. It should be moving forward on time with no delays.”

New York City’s film and television industries have seen a boom in business over the last decade. Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced that the industries generated $7.1 billion in 2011 and have employed 130,000 residents since 2004. According to published reports, 188 films and a record 23 prime time television shows were shot in the five boroughs in 2011.

The outdoor lot is the second expansion in as many years for Kaufman, which spent $23 million on an indoor studio in 2010.
“The creation of the city’s first studio back lot is another chapter in realizing our vision for the studio as a complete campus,” said Hal Rosenbluth, president of Kaufman

Astoria Studios. “The back lot will add to the growth of the Kaufman Astoria Studios campus, the industry in New York and the economic development of the neighborhood.

We are excited to see this project move forward.”

Kaufman, which opened in 1920, is currently a location for major motion pictures, independent films, television shows and commercials, and its stages have been host to countless acting legends, including Bill Cosby, Harrison Ford, Meryl Streep and Al Pacino.


Creighton Fraker makes Queens proud on ‘American Idol’

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Fox’s American Idol

People should get used to pronouncing Creighton Fraker. It’s going to be a household name.

An Astoria resident for the past eight years, Fraker grabbed the ultimate brass ring for a star on the rise — a coveted golden ticket on Fox’s “American Idol.”

Fraker grew up as a preacher’s kid in South Dakota, finding his voice in church choirs and local boys’ singing groups. He took private lessons throughout the years and eventually joined a touring choir, serenading audiences across the nation.

He always knew he wanted to sing.

Eight-and-a-half years ago, Fraker moved east to the Big Apple.

In New York and out of work, he took to the streets, performing for crowds in public parks and on sidewalks. He waited tables and poured cocktails, anything to make ends meet.

Fraker’s 28th birthday this year marked his last chance to win a spot on “American Idol,” since the show enforces an age cut-off for contestants.

It was an opportunity Fraker seized.

He and two friends drove from New York to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the “American Idol” audition, each with dreams of stardom. The trio camped overnight on the sidewalk outside the stadium where auditions were held, along with thousands of other hopeful contestants.

For his turn in front of the judges, Fraker belted out Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You,” as well as an untitled original piece.

“[The judges] had only good things to say,” said Fraker. “They were shocked at how unique I was.”

Influenced heavily by Michael Jackson, Fraker also admitted to the impression “American Idol” judge Steven Tyler has had on his sound.

“[Steven Tyler] has always been a big idol of mine,” said Fraker. “It’s more than insane to hear him commenting on my music.”

Of the three hopefuls that traveled together, Fraker was the only one to make it to Hollywood.

With the golden ticket clutched in his hand, Fraker dialed his mother. He wanted her to be the first to hear the news.

“I was elated,” he said. “I was so excited to find out that I hadn’t been waiting around in line for nothing.”

With the first “Hollywood Week” behind him, Fraker looks forward to his future on “American Idol” and the musical ventures to follow.

“I was struggling to find a way to pay my rent before now,” said Fraker. “Now, there’s a hope of becoming a household name. It’s completely [turned] my whole world [around].”

“American Idol” airs Wednesdays and Thursdays on Fox 5.