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Some of the most familiar names in film and television gathered in Williamsburg Monday night to celebrate New York’s entertainment industry, including the city’s thriving film and TV production business, at the 2014 Made in New York awards.
In his introductory remarks, Mayor Bill de Blasio, accompanied by film commissioner Cynthia Lopez, announced that 232 permits had been issued for film production in New York in the first 10 months of 2014. More primetime TV shows are being filmed in New York than ever before, de Blasio added, with 39 shooting in the city, 20 of which are new to New York.
“So what’s happening here tonight epitomizes why everyone’s coming here to New York,” de Blasio said. “The talent, the energy, the belief you have in this place…it’s making this community stronger, it’s making our whole community stronger and…this industry generates over $7 million dollars in annual activity in New York City and employs 130,000 New Yorkers, really making the city strong in so many ways.”
This year’s honorees, as The Hollywood Reporter exclusively reported last week, included Steve Buscemi, Louis C.K., Neil Patrick Harris, Rosie Perez and Blue Bloods co-executive producer Jane Raab, who previously produced Sex and the City.
Buscemi, who recently wrapped up his role as Nucky Thompson on the New York City-shot Boardwalk Empire, and C.K., whose FX show Louie films in New York, both used their time at the podium to touch on political issues. Buscemi joked about the city’s new 25 mph speed limit, saying that he was supposed to be in the video featuring his fellow honorees at the beginning of the awards show, but he was driving 25 mph, so he didn’t make it in time. De Blasio slapped his knee at Buscemi’s joke.
C.K., however, urged the mayor to support arts programs in public schools, “even in the really bad schools that I can’t even drive past,” noting that he has two kids in public school.
In keeping with his jokes about parts of the city still being terrifying, C.K. also advised de Blasio not to clean up New York too much.
But in all seriousness, he said that what he loved about shooting in New York is the people.
“Nobody talks like a New Yorker, nobody acts like a New Yorker and you really need that,” he said.
C.K. also addressed a glaring issue for many people in the audience at the beautiful but cavernous Weylin B. Seymour’s, which had terrible acoustics, making it tough to hear the speakers, even with microphones.
“We should never hold an event like this in this room like this ever again,” C.K. said. “At least close the bar when the mayor’s talking because we can’t hear a thing.”
This year’s awards, the first under de Blasio’s administration, previously took place in June at Gracie Mansion under the Bloomberg administration.
Fellow honoree Perez agreed about the sound problems at the venue, saying, “I have to agree, Mr. Mayor, this is a crappy place to have it…all these people who are drunk over there…next year, close the bar.”
But she also enthusiastically supported continuing to bring production to the city instead of New York stand-ins like Toronto.
“Let’s keep bringing the money back here to New York,” she said. “This is where the film industry really thrives. This is where the television industry really thrived. Let’s keep it going and to hell with Toronto. It’s too cold up there anyway.”
Perez will soon be very busy working in both New York’s television and theater industries, with the new View co-host set to star in Larry David‘s Broadway play Fish in the Dark, which is slated to begin previews in February before opening March 5.
Earlier, on the red carpet, she told THR she’s trying not to worry about how she’ll do a morning show and a Broadway show, hoping that she’ll deal with both with a lot of sleep and clean living.
“If I think about it too much, I think I’ll lose my mind, but it’s a blessing to be on the show and acting at the same time,” she said, adding that she made sure when she signed on to The View that she could do both.
“When I got the offer for The View I already had the offer for the play,” Perez said. “And someone said, ‘You may not be able to do the play,’ and I said, ‘No, no, no, they gotta work it out.'”
Fellow honoree Harris recently wrapped up a Broadway run in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but the former child actor only moved to New York a year ago. Still, he plans to produce his new variety show in the city. In accepting his award, he said he hoped he’d be able to represent the New York City culture he’d admired.
“I’ve always been an admirer of New York from afar,” Harris said. “I would come here and just always be enamored by the culture and the energy and the vibe…I’m just hopeful that from this point forward, I’ll be able to represent New York and show off its culture.”
Veteran producer Raab praised those she’d worked with and who’d supported her in her long career making movies and TV shows in New York.
“It’s wonderful to have an administration that understands and supports filmmaking in the busiest and most complicated city in the world,” she said. “I’d like to dedicate this award to the tribe of anonymous New Yorkers working behind-the-scenes to tell the stories everyone wants to watch…this is for all of you who get up every day and make the donuts.”
“Thank you to all of the mentors and filmmakers who have helped inspire me along the way,” she added, also thanking the directors who “trusted me with their visions” and studios who “trusted me with their budgets.”
Indeed working in New York for many years, Raab has seen the city’s production environment become increasingly crowded, but she told THR that collaboration and creativity are the keys to thriving in that environment.
“We are a community…we really help each other out and we’re able to call each other and say, ‘You’ve got the courtroom on Friday, can you move it to Thursday?’ We’re cooperating with each other. It’s a little more challenging for sure but we’re all good friends,” she said. “It also forces you as a filmmaker to look for new ways to portray the city because everyone wants to shoot in the same spot…so you have to find an angle or a way to shoot it that’s different from the other shows…That’s challenging and it makes people think and be more creative and you look for new parts of the city that not everybody is shooting.”
Raab has also dealt with various political administrations and said that she was encouraged by what she’s seen from new commissioner Lopez.
“[She and de Blasio are] still a little bit in their infancy, but I think Cynthia is a fantastic person. I love her energy. I love her enthusiasm,” Raab said. “She came to visit us on set. She had seen almost every episode and knew her language and was very friendly and warm and open. That bodes well because it makes us all feel very supported. I think they’re going to do great and the tax credit is still working strong, so we’re looking forward to many more years of making movies on the streets of New York.”
Indeed, Lopez who was just named film commissioner in April, began her remarks by counting exactly how long she’s been on the job: Nearly 206 days, 9 hours, 35 minutes and 27 seconds.
“But who’s counting?” she said. Still, she was enthusiastic about continuing the city’s thriving production business. In his closing remarks de Blasio stressed bringing more people, especially young people, into the city’s film and television industry.
Other winners honored Monday night included veteran documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens), who received the mayor’s award for lifetime achievement; the Producers Guild of America’s vp motion pictures and chair of its Women’s Impact Network Lydia Dean Pilcher, PGA Green chair Mari Jo Winkler and PGA Diversity chair and PGA East vice-chair Rachel Watanabe-Batton; MacArthur fellow and National Humanities Medal honoree Stanley Nelson and Brooklyn-based digital design and technology consultancy Huge.
9:53 a.m. This story has been updated with the names of more award recipients who were honored Monday night.
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