Local industry leaders reacted with surprise and concern to the news that Richard Brick, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting, had abruptly given two weeks’ notice to new Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Although Giuliani attracted media attention Monday night trading barbs with host David Letterman in the Ed Sullivan Theater, local industry leaders are fretting over what will take place a few floors above Letterman, where the city film office will relocate this spring.
Amid a swirling list of candidates that seems to include everybody but Giuliani’s 7-year-old son, some called for the reappointment of Brick, while others underscored the need for a commissioner with more industry experience.
A line producer by trade, Brick apparently tired of waiting for Giuliani’s staff to drop him a line and let him know if he would continue in a position he filled after three exhaustive searches that took eight months. Brick, who delivered his letter to Giuliani on Monday (Daily Variety, Jan. 11), will leave his post Jan. 21.
A spokesman for Giuliani acknowledged the mayor had received the letter, and said: “We wish Mr. Brick well. We think it’s a bit premature to analyze a municipal government in seven days.” In fact, Giuliani has been lining up his team since he was elected last Nov. 2.
The search for the new commish is being undertaken by John Dyson, the deputy mayor of finance and economic development, who while head of the N.Y. Commerce Dept. helped create the state film office. The spokesman said that the post would be filled quickly.
“We have narrowed the search for successor to four or five people who are well known within the industry and come with excellent reputations,” the spokesman said. “We plan to appoint someone very shortly.”
That didn’t jibe with comments made a day earlier by actor Ron Silver, who was on a committee to find a replacement. He said that little progress had been made and that no screening had yet been done.
Other city hall sources indicated that Brick was still in serious contention for reappointment, and some in the industry felt that if asked, he’d likely stay.
“I think Richard did a great job,” said Frank Schulz, president of Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 52. “I’ve been hearing rumors about possible replacements, and I’m not too happy with some of the rumors. I would like to see it stay with someone in the industry, and if (Brick) could be talked back into staying, I’d like to see that.”
Thomas O’Donnell, head of Teamsters Local 817, also called for a commissioner with industry experience and was concerned about possible budget cuts.
“We just hope the new administration doesn’t limit the office,” said O’Donnell. “It’s important that they move quickly.”
Though the Giuliani spokesman wouldn’t disclose the names of candidates, industry sources said rumored choicesincluded former director Nancy Littlefield, DGA officer Jane Schimel, former state director Pepper O’Brien and Denny Fraand, who has a production background and is married to public advocate Mark Green.