Bloomberg, on set with Gretchen Mol, does a bit about New York film, the Park Slope Food Coop, pot and John Liu
An unusually cheerful Mayor Michael Bloomberg, fresh off a trip to Singapore, helped cut the ribbon on five new soundstages at Steiner Studios, which is now the largest production studio east of Hollywood.
The studio controls 10 soundstages on 20 acres at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and was the filming location for "Sex and the City" and "Boardwalk Empire."
Gretchen Mol, who was in "Boardwalk Empire," said there are definite benefits to shooting in New York City versus L.A.
“Well, the real thing is that the extras just look different,” she said. “The extras in New York look like real people.”
More influential than the ordinary looks of New York actors, however, may be the state’s $420 million tax credit, which is often cited for catalyzing the growth in New York City’s film and television sector.
During the 2011-2012 television season, 23 primetime series were filmed in New York, compared to nine in 2001-2002, according to the mayor’s office of media and entertainment. In 2011, 188 films were filmed here, compared to 174 in 2001.
Since opening in 2004, Steiner Studios has expanded three times. This is the fourth, and the largest, expansion. The Steiners harbor hopes of expanding someday to 50 acres.
“This business is manufacturing for the 21st century, and it's one type of manufacturing that New York City does exceedingly well,” said Douglas Steiner, chairman of Steiner Studios. “And this is not manufacturing that is going to be done in China anytime soon.”
In 2010, the state comptroller reported that since the state’s tax incentive program was introduced in 2004, nearly $7 billion in economic activity has ensued.
Though neither of the two state representatives who showed up—including Pat Swinney Kaufman, head of the state agency that administers that tax credit—were given speaking roles in the production, the mayor nodded toward the state’s role during the question-and-answer session,
“The state has been very generous and Pat’s been the spearhead on that, thank you,” said the mayor. ”And what we’ve tried to do with city money is to provide some other infrastructure, but it’s mainly, there has been subsidies from the state.”
This was the mayor's third press event to highlight a soundstage in recent months.
In August, he hailed the growth of the industry at Steiner Studios, accompanied by the stars of "Pan Am."
In January, he did much the same thing, albeit with a different set (Silvercup Studios) and cast ("Gossip Girl").
On Monday, the mayor began by referring to a recent Economist intelligence unit report naming New York one of the most competitive cities in the world.
“That did not happen by accident,” said the mayor. “It happened because of the ongoing investments that we’ve made to improve the quality of life, to spur innovation and diversify our economy. And one of the industries that has experienced exceptional growth under our administration is film and television production.”
Following the main event, the reporters and a mayor engaged in a theatrical production of another sort.
Does the mayor have any thoughts on the recent scourge of synthetic marijuana sales in city bodegas?
"I don’t know very much about synthetic pot, or real pot, these days. Do they still use the word pot?"
Later on, a reporter asked if the mayor did indeed once know more about pot.
Would he support legalizing marijuana?
"You know, the arguments for legalizing marijuana are that you would destroy the economics of the marijuana business. And I think that probably is true. Unfortunately, what is probably also true is the people in that business would push stronger drugs. And, so it's not quite so clear that it's a great idea. It's intriguing but I don't think I've ever quite gotten there to support the legalization of drugs. There's an alternative answer to the problem, which you see in places like where I was just visiting. In lots of places in the far east they have signs up: death to drug dealers."
(He later added that “I don't think what's right for Singapore is necessarily right for America.)
Does he have any thoughts on tomorrow’s Park Slope Food Co-op vote, which will determine whether the grocery store continues to sell Israeli products?
"I think that it’s nothing to do with the food. The issue is there are people who want Israel to be torn apart and everybody to be massacred, and America’s not gonna let that happen".
Comptroller John Liu has proposed allowing private-sector workers to invest in city-managed pension funds. Does he support that idea?
"I suppose if you want to give your money to him," said the mayor, letting his answer trail off. Then he, and the audience, laughed.