Studio shortage looming in Gotham

Execs address subject at ShowBiz Expo

The shortage of studio space in New York will exacerbate with the closing of the CBS Broadcast Center next year.

That’s what Phil Dixson, senior VP and managing director, daytime programming, TeleVest, said in a panel session, “Gotham’s Studio Shortage: What Stage Are We In,” held Friday during ShowBiz Expo.

TeleVest, which oversees production of daytime dramas for Proctor & Gamble, has already agreed to move two soaps over to Hudson River Studios, which is scheduled to open in 2000. Dixson said he must soon find a facility for the third New York-based P&G soap, which is now produced at the Eye Net’s Broadcast Center.

The five video stages at Hudson River Studios could provide relief for space-starved TV production in the city, but the growing number of feature film projects coming to New York have a different set of needs. Lou Madigan, CEO, New York Studios, who is attempting to develop a large studio complex at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, said there is currently only one stage in Gotham that meets minimum size requirements for most major features, compared to 55 in the Los Angeles area. Madigan insisted the low cost of land at the Brooklyn site makes it economically feasible, although he has yet to line up financing.

While the panel agreed that finding studio development capital has been difficult, Patricia Reed Scott, commissioner, of The New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, called the shortage of production space a “liability that contains our growth.” Presently, Scott’s office helps Gotham-bound features by offering makeshift stages at armories and other large government-owned spaces. “For some producers, it is attractive to make due,” Scott said, because it can be cheaper than renting a studio.

“But these armories are often in residential settings, where people don’t want to see industrial use of the space,” she explained. Scott also noted that plans for expansion at Kaufman Astoria Studios are “in motion, with the help of the city and state.”

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