Tag Archives: Kaufman Astoria Studios

Museum of the Moving Image completes expansion with Kaufman Courtyard dedication


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

The final piece of the Museum of the Moving Image’s expansion and renovation project is in place.

On June 18, local officials, museum representatives and members of the community gathered for a dedication ceremony for the museum’s recently completed outdoor courtyard. It will be named after museum trustee George Kaufman, who is also chair of Kaufman Astoria Studios and the Kaufman Organization, a real estate company.

“My vision for the neighborhood was to create a vibrant, full-service production center and have the studio become the catalyst for neighborhood growth,” said Kaufman. “Today, that vision has become a reality.

The 10,370-square-foot Kaufman Courtyard is the final part of the $2.5 million project designed by Leeser Architecture. The landscaped courtyard garden will include space for an outdoor cafe and offer open-air screenings, exhibitions and special events. The new area will also have a drop-off zone for school buses, a dedicated entrance for school groups and extra room for students to gather during their visits.

The Department of Cultural Affairs, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer and the City of New York provided $1.25 million in funding, while Kaufman donated $1 million for the project. The remaining funds came from private contributions.

“From the beginning, I believed these enhancements would heighten the Museum of the Moving Image’s prominence as a world-renowned cultural institution,” said Van Bramer. “Not only will millions of visitors from around the world get to enjoy this newly designed open-air courtyard, but so will local residents who share this neighborhood with one of our city’s greatest cultural institutions.”


(Photo courtesy the Museum of the Moving Image)

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Bill Cosby coming to Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Erinn Chalene

Hey, hey, hey, Bill Cosby is coming our way.

On Saturday, April 6, one of America’s most beloved and respected comedians, will be taking the stage at the Colden Auditorium at Queens College to share his stories with anyone looking for a night filled with laughs.

“For me to perform at a college is usually an opportunity to speak and perform. I do not come out and do ‘educational questions;’ this is a performance,” he said. “You get Bill Cosby, the talking comedian who performs his own writings.”

No matter the generation gap or gender of his audience, Cosby has fascinated fans with his comedy routines, iconic albums and best-selling books. Cosby promises the upcoming show will be “hilarious” and will include the audience’s identification with the subject of conflicts at home, parenting, and relationships pertaining to the student.

“It’s not about the changing of a chair that the student sits in, or whether or not someone can record what the professor is saying or whether one has a computer or a number two yellow pencil,” he said. “It’s about the human beings.”

Having experience with raising five children with the former Camille Hanks, Cosby believes it is very important to bring such subjects out on stage and watch everyone laugh and have them know that the person talking to them knows something about their feelings.

“People come out saying things like ‘how did he get in my house?’” he quipped.

Cosby holds fond memories of Queens when the Huxtables made their move from Brooklyn to Astoria, spending many years filming “The Cosby Show” at Kaufman Astoria Studios and where later “Cosby,” a CBS comedy TV series, was also filmed for three years.

“Many times there are people who have shot their shows there and they always say ‘we were in your studio,’” he said.
Breaking television’s racial barrier with the series “I Spy” in the 1960s, Cosby became the first African American to costar in a television series while winning three consecutive Emmys. He also went on to create and produce the Emmy award-winning cartoon “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids,” designed both to entertain and educate viewers.

With Cosby’s intent on portraying an American family, “The Cosby Show” was about a close-knit, upper middle class African-American family. The show conquered the number one spot for years, earning admiration for its contribution to American entertainment and culture.

In his current best-seller titled “I Didn’t Ask to Be Born, But I’m Glad I Was,” Cosby talks about everything from the Bible to being a grandfather.

For those not familiar with his style of performing, Cosby recommends they watch scenes from his recent appearances on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” or the “Late Show with David Letterman.”

Cosby’s performance is part of the Kupferberg Center for the Arts’ “Best of the Best Series.” Tickets are $35 to $65 and are available by calling the Kupferberg Center Box Office at 718-793-8080 or online at www.KupferbergCenter.org.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Kaufman Astoria Studios to expand, add outdoor movie set


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Kaufman Astoria Studios

Looking to bring more of Hollywood into the borough, Kaufman Astoria Studios is expanding this summer beyond its doors and into the outdoors.

The expansion, which was part of a thought-out process since the 1980s, includes two new gates and an outdoor movie set, on 36th Street between 34th and 35th Avenues. It is the only one of its kind in the city.

“We want to put the physical aspect of what people think of when they expect to pull up to a studio,” said Hal Rosenbluth, president at Kaufman Astoria Studios.

The outdoor studio space is expected to bring in more movie and TV producers because it will allow them to leave up sets for extended periods of time.

“It will allow actors to be in a controlled environment without having to worry about being in a neighborhood in Manhattan,” Rosenbluth said.

Local officials expect Kaufman will sustain and expand upon the economic development it spurred when it first came into the neighborhood two decades ago.

“The expansion of Kaufman Astoria Studios is another sign of the great success of New York’s film tax credit, which has been the most successful economic development initiative in the last decade,” State Senator Mike Gianaris said.

The immediate area could also see the development of more stages, condominiums or rental apartments and a hotel.

“This project … will mean jobs and increased economic activity for Astoria and western Queens,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

After its opening, the set’s primary purpose will be used by producers looking to film in Queens. But Rosenbluth hopes to work with different organizations in the neighborhood in order to involve the community as a whole.

“It will serve from a producer to the general public coming to watch a movie and getting something to eat,” Rosenbluth said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Kaufman Astoria Studios extends lease by 99 years


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

File photo

Keep the reels rolling!

Senator Charles Schumer and Congressmember Carolyn Maloney announced the approval of Kaufman Astoria Studios’ 99 year lease term extension under the Historic Surplus Property Program by the National Park Service (NPS). Early this month, Schumer and Maloney requested that NPS approve this application, stating the extension would allow business expansion in the studio by providing long-term investments and make it easier to access the capital Kaufman needs to grow and expand.

“This lease term extension will give Kaufman Astoria Studios the security and predictability it needs to grow, create more jobs and expand its business in Queens,” said Schumer. “This studio is full of history and with New York City’s growing film industry, I am pleased that the National Park Service has said ‘lights, camera, action’ for this new extended lease.”

The legendary studio opened in 1920 and became the home to Paramount Pictures. Stars like Harrison Ford, Meryl Streep and Al Pacino have worked on productions at Kaufman Astoria Studios. Sesame Street is also filmed at the renowned studio. Kaufman Astoria Studios was designated as a National Historic District in 1978.

Its extended lease will end in 2099.

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.

10 lb. pot bust at Astoria film studio


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

114_10lbs_mj_090612

An electrician at a Queens production studio of many well-known television shows and movies was arrested Thursday for 10 pounds of marijuana that was delivered to his workplace, said the NYPD.

At 2:30 p.m., on September 6, police were called to Kaufman Astoria Studios, at 34-37 36th Avenue, after building security intercepted two large cardboard boxes containing two plastic containers packed with approximately 10 pounds of marijuana.

The package was for an electrician working at the studio, Lowell Schulman, 53, of Brooklyn and addressed from a UPS rental facility in California, said police.

He allegedly admitted to the officers that the package was for him, but that he was expecting it to contain a much smaller amount of marijuana as well as cologne and books.

Police then proceeded to find five plastic dime bags containing crack cocaine in the left pocket of his pants.

Schulman has been charged with criminal possession of marijuana, criminal unlawful possession of marijuana and possession of a controlled substance.

At the time of his arrest authorities also discovered that Schulman has an open warrant.

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.