Tag Archives: Kaufman Astoria Studios

Kaufman Arts District is first of its kind in Queens

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Astoria is ready for the world to know it’s the place to be for the arts.

The western Queens neighborhood gathered Friday to celebrate the announcement of the designation of the Kaufman Arts District, the first of its kind in the borough.

The district was created in partnership with Kaufman Astoria Studios, the Museum of the Moving Image, and the Queens Council on the Arts.

During the announcement, the partners of the arts district received a proclamation from Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer on behalf of the City Council.

The mission of the arts district will be “to advance and promote the area as a world class vibrant cultural destination and home for creative industries,” officials said.

“This corner of Queens has quickly become a vibrant community of cultural venues and arts organizations that have attracted some of our generation’s greatest artists,” Van Bramer said.

The Kaufman Arts District will span from 31st Street to the west, 34th Avenue to the north, Steinway Street to the east, and 37th Avenue to the south.

“Over the years, Kaufman Astoria and western Queens have blossomed side by side into a citywide landmark and a neighborhood that doubles as a world-class destination for the arts,” Senator Michael Gianaris said.

Within the boundaries of the Kaufman Arts District are the Museums of the Moving Image, The Astor Room, Studio Square NYC, the Queens Council on the Arts, the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, UA Kaufman Astoria Cinemas, the Astoria Performing Arts Center, and the Theater Development Fund’s Costume Collection.

“The creation of this arts district opens the community to more opportunities to experience the extensive creative activity in our midst,” said Carl Goodman, executive director of Museum of the Moving Image. “We’re going to really work together to bring this neighborhood to the next level.”

For more information on the arts district, visit here.



Many LIC Flea vendor favorites to return for market’s re-opening

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

The popular Long Island City flea market will celebrate its grand re-opening for the 2014 season on Saturday, April 5 and Sunday, April 6 at the same outdoor lot by the waterfront at the corner of 5th Street and 46th Avenue. Items for sale at the market include food and drinks, collectibles, antiques, arts and crafts, fashion and more.

This season, many LIC Flea favorite vendors are making their comeback and are excited to hit the outdoors once again.

Rich Nieto, owner of Sweet Leaf, said he is excited to sell his signature iced and hot teas and coffees, with names such as voodoo child and rocket fuel, and pastries. A new item to the vendor’s list is roasted coffee sold by the bag to customers looking to take a piece home.

“We are certainly excited. I am excited with anything that will bring the warm weather around,” said Nieto, who is also looking forward to participating in the up-and-coming Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios in May.
Butcher Bar’s Matthew Katakis shares the same excitement and says he can’t wait to start selling his barbecued meats at LIC Flea. The Astoria butcher shop/restaurant is expanding its 37-08 30th Avenue location to 37-10 30th Ave.

“We love the community feel and the opportunity to work in a neighborhood other than Astoria,” Katakis said. “It’s just the cool experience of being outdoors and being able to bring the barbecue out to the people. Smoking our ribs is a lot of work when we present it outdoor because we have to get everything ready the night before. We love doing that because we don’t have that type of smoker in the store, so we will have to deal with some ‘serious barbecue.’”

Some other returning vendors include Vint & York, Latif, Oconomi, Bills Balls, The Nomad Truck, Imran Jewels, Luke’s Lobster, Jam Jar NY, J&L Farms, and many more.

LIC Flea will also welcome brand new faces to its vendors list with items ranging from falafels to soaps.

John Calderone of Mir Burger will be selling food based on international cuisines, including flavored burger sliders and veggie salads.

“I am looking forward to being outdoors and meeting a lot of people,” Calderone said. “I enjoy these types of opportunities. The energy is much higher and people will be much more enthusiastic.”

Lauren Zito is also looking forward to launching her business at LIC Flea with gourmet bagel bites known as Zito’s Bites.

“I decided to participate because I wanted to be involved within the Long Island City community and I also thought it was a good place to start my business,” Zito said. “I am excited because it will be a great event and I am also looking forward to getting feedback from customers to improve my business.”

Other new vendors include Kimchi Smoke, Robicelli’s, Sara Jenny Fries, King of Falafel & Shawarma, Grateful Bread Company, Vintage-Dealers Choice Jewelry and Nyan Soaps.

LIC Flea & Food will run every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Applications are still being accepted for the new season by registering online at www.licflea.com.



Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios coming in May

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Astoria, get ready!

LIC Flea & Food and Kaufman Astoria Studios have announced they will be partnering up to bring the city’s first-ever backlot market called Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios. The new market, launching Sunday, May 4, will bring the community the best in food vendors, antiques, collectibles, art, crafts, fashion and much more.

“After a phenomenal first season in Long Island City we are thrilled to expand to Astoria,” said Joshua Schneps, Astoria Flea & Food president. “Kaufman Astoria Studios offers the perfect location and we look forward to creating a fun and vibrant destination for the community.”

Located in the studio’s outdoor lot, the first of its kind in New York City which opened in December on 36th Street between 34th and 35th avenues, Astoria Flea & Food will operate every Sunday for eight consecutive weekends.

“The Kaufman Astoria Studios neighborhood has grown into a wonderfully vibrant center for art, food and culture,” said Hal Rosenbluth, president at Kaufman Astoria. “Astoria Flea is a terrific addition to our community. We look forward to making our new backlot home to eight great Sundays filled with food, art and fashion.”

Visitors will also be able to pass through a brand new 40-foot high steel gated entrance, designed by David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group, located at 35th Avenue.

This market will act as an incubator to help promote and foster businesses, as well as be a fun and vibrant weekend spot for the entire family.

“This is extremely exciting news and another example that the borough is a fantastic place to live and do business,” said Seth Bornstein, executive director of the Queens Economic Development Corporation. “Kaufman Astoria Studios is a nationally recognized landmark that has hosted such classic TV shows as ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘The Cosby Show.’ It will provide the perfect scene for a flea market.”

Astoria Flea will work as a great setting for business owners to grow their businesses and gain prominence, even if they might not be ready to afford a storefront. The market will be within walking distance from the M, R, N and Q train lines.

“Astoria Flea & Food will offer a world-class shopping and culinary experience on the grounds of what has become a world-class film and television studios,” said Borough President Melinda Katz. “Its unique setting and easily accessible location will be attractive to tourists and Queens residents alike.”

In addition, Astoria Flea will allow visitors to have an experience within one of the city’s most historic film and television studios, first built in 1920, which is currently home to shows such as “Orange is the New Black,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Alpha House” and “Sesame Street.”

“With this neighborhood growth comes a greater need for fostering artistic culture and strengthening our small business community,” said Councilmember Costa Constantinides. “The market will be a vibrant place for Astoria’s artists and chefs to showcase their work, and will also be a place for entrepreneurs throughout the city to gain visibility for their small businesses.”

Astoria Flea has partnered with The Queens Courier to promote every vendor of the market in the newspaper and online. In addition, BORO Magazine and the LIC Courier will also feature a monthly vendor guide focused on painters, sculptors, photographers and food.

“LIC Flea is a very successful part of the Long Island City community and its expansion to Kaufman Astoria Studios is a welcome addition to our neighborhood,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “Astoria Flea & Food will bring together the great food and artistic flair that put Astoria on the map and made it a destination for people all over the world.”

Vendors, from the small to the big, can apply to sell at the market at www.LICFlea.com. Updates will be available through the Facebook and Twitter accounts at Facebook.com/AstoriaFlea and @AstoriaFlea.



NY Comptroller DiNapoli: ‘Queens is a New York success story’

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Queens is on a roll and isn’t stopping any time soon, according to New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“Queens is a New York success story,” DiNapoli said. “Superstorm Sandy impacted thousands of Queens residents, but the borough is on the recovery path. With a strong economy, a fast growing and diverse population, and several large projects on the horizon, Queens is booming.”

DiNapoli gathered with local elected officials and community leaders at Silvercup Studios in Long Island City Friday to release an economic snapshot of Queens, revealing how the borough has made an economic comeback over the past two years since the Great Recession.

According to the report, since 2012 the borough has had the highest level of employment among all the boroughs outside of Manhattan as private sector employment reached its highest recorded level of 486, 160 jobs. The largest employment sectors in Queens include health care, social assistance, transportation and, warehousing and retail trade.

“A look around the communities of Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Astoria show what Comptroller DiNapoli’s excellent report illustrates – that the economy of Queens is back on track,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

The borough’s population has also grown by 20 percent over the past three decades, more than the citywide growth rate, according to the report.

The state comptroller’s economic snapshot also found that Queens is the most diverse large county in the United States, with immigrants from more than 120 countries making 48 percent of residents, with not a single dominant ethnic group.

In 2011, the borough had 44,070 business establishments with small businesses leading in the area, according to the report.

The report also found unemployment to be lower in the borough compared to the rest of the city. The unemployment rate averaged 8.3 percent in 2012 and in the first eight months of 2013 dropped to 7.8 percent.

“These numbers show that Queens has weathered the worst of the storm,” said Queens Borough President-elect Melinda Katz. “With nearly half a million Queens workers fueling growth and innovation in the private sector, our borough has moved past the Great Recession that gripped the entire country in recent years, As Borough President, I will build on the successful work of state leaders like Comptroller DiNapoli to ensure we continue creating jobs and growing the economy for all New Yorkers.”

Together with the number of jobs and low unemployment rate, film and television production have both been thriving in the borough. Silvercup Studios, with 410,000 square feet of space and 19 soundstages, is the biggest studio space in the city and Kaufman Astoria Studios has seven soundstages and the city’s only outdoor movie set.

“I just think that film and television production is a mutual part of New York and Queens and of surrounding areas and it provides jobs,” said actor Michael J. Fox, who is filming “The Michael J. Fox Show” at Silvercup Studios. “I want to voice whatever support I can to continue nurturing film and television production in New York, it’s a big part of the city. “



Kaufman Astoria Studios opens NYC’s first outdoor film set

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Queens is on its way to becoming the next Hollywood.

Kaufman Astoria representatives, local and state elected officials, community leaders and the beloved Grover from Sesame Street gathered on Tuesday to cut the ribbon on New York City’s first outdoor film set at the Kaufman Astoria Studios on 36th Street between 34th and 35th Avenue.

“Today is the celebration of a vision coming true, it is why I’m smiling,” said Hal Rosenbluth, president of Kaufman Astoria Studios. “The backlot is an exciting new development for the film and television industry in New York as well as for this area of Astoria.”

The grand opening also revealed a brand new gated entrance, designed by David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group, located at 35th Avenue.

The 40-foot high steel gate, which can be used as a catwalk for productions, serves as an identifiable iconic symbol in the community and also welcomes visitors into the block-long 34,800-square-foot outdoor lot.

“As the first dedicated backlot in the five boroughs, film and television productions are now more likely to yell ‘action’ and choose Kaufman Astoria Studios and New York City as a location for filming,” said Senator Charles Schumer. “It’s great to say that Kaufman Astoria Studios is now ready for its close up. We’re rolling out the red carpet for the studio’s brand new lot. It’s a game changer for New York. I like to see New York be number one in everything and we are getting there. Hollywood watch out.”

The brand new outdoor lot is expected to bring in more movie and TV producers because it would allow them to shoot outdoors, special effects shots, and leave up sets for extended periods of time. It is located adjacent to the sound stages, allowing access to dressing rooms, production office and set building workshops.

“The addition of New York City’s first-ever outdoor sound stage puts Astoria on the map when it comes to producing blockbuster movies in the United States,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “From a dormant industrial building, Kaufman Astoria Studios has built a world-class institution that has helped Western Queens become ‘Hollywood East.’”

Together with this new expansion, Kaufman Astoria Studios hopes to continue working on the vision George Kaufman, real estate developer and studio chairman, of growing the arts and culture in Astoria and bringing the neighborhood together.

“When I first came here in the early 1980s, I know that we had the potential to turn this neighborhood into a thriving production, arts and cultural district for the City and I am proud to see that vision is a reality today.”

Current productions at Kaufman Astoria Studios include television shows such as Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” and Amazon’s “Alpha House.”



Kaufman Astoria Studios expansion begins, expected to benefit area

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Kaufman Astoria Studios

The expansion that will bring Hollywood into the borough has begun.

Construction has started on the back lot at Kaufman Astoria Studios to create an outdoor film set on 36th Street between 34th and 35th Avenue. The site is the only one of its kind in the city.

“We’ve wanted to do this for a long time,” said Hal Rosenbluth, president at Kaufman Astoria Studios. “I stood in the middle of the street and I smiled because it had been a long time coming.”

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

Within a few days of construction, Rosenbluth said the back lot was already being used to film an upcoming film called “Beware the Night.”

“It creates another service capability for producers to have in the city of New York,” said Rosenbluth. “It allows producers to do some of the shots that they have otherwise been doing on the streets of New York.”

Rosenbluth said the expansion will reduce traffic and congestion and boost the economic expansion that Kaufman Astoria Studios has long provided in the area. He also said the expansion will bring the neighborhood together.

Rosenbluth added the main entrance gate, to be located at 35th Avenue, will serve as an iconic symbol in the community.

“When you’re in L.A., your expectations are to drive up, pull up to a gate and say ‘I want to see Mr. Spielberg,’ and now that’s going to be able to happen in Kaufman Astoria Studios,” said Rosenbluth.
Construction is expected to be completed by mid- to late October.



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)



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.



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.



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


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.