Agencies pony up coin for Kaufman Astoria addition

Kaufman Astoria Studios will break ground for its seventh stage, according to chairman George S. Kaufman and president Hal G. Rosenbluth, thanks largely to contributions from a variety of government sources.

Studio heads report funding for the $8.3 million addition — which will house a 15,000-18,000 square-foot soundstage and a 25,000 square-foot-plus support facility — will be provided by the following:

  • Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the NYC Economic Development Corp. committed to a $1.2 million funding agreement, along with the long-term leasing of the land to the studio.

  • New York City Council Speaker Peter F. Vallone and NYC Councilman Walter McCaffrey earmarked an initial $2.5 million grant in the NYC Council budget for the project, with an additional $600,000 for demolition.

  • New York State will provide a $1.7 million combined grant and loan to KAS through its development agency, the Empire State Development Corp.

  • Queens Borough President Claire Shulman’s office has allocated $125,000.

  • A $2.3 million loan from Astoria Federal Savings completes the funding.

The Janson Design Group of Manhattan, involved in projects for NBC and MSNBC among others, are the studio’s architects.

Hopes high

“KAS will not only attract new feature film, television and multimedia productions to New York, but it will enhance the city’s reputation as the premiere site for studio and on-location entertainment production,” Rosenbluth said.

“This is a perfect example of a successful public-private partnership,” Kaufman said. “Had it not been for the tremendous support and belief in the strength of the entertainment industry here in New York City and state, this expansion announcement would not be taking place.”

Rosenbluth also gives a vote of thanks to veteran thesps Woody Allen, for involving KAS in his productions on stage and on location, and Bill Cosby, for adding TV to the studio’s appeal as a production center.

According to the Mayor’s Office of Film/Theater/Broadcast, film revenues for 1998 amounted to $2.57 billion.

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Marcie Kelso, director of the Charlotte Region (North and South Carolina) Film Office, and Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Film Office, were touting their areas’ film-friendly environment to L.A. industry execs last week in hopes of luring more film production to the Carolinas.

North Carolina Film Office topper Bill Arnold reports production numbers are up 60% compared with those of 1998. However, revenue may not reflect that increase, because 17 of the 20 features currently lensing in the area are low-budget indie productions.

Helmer Michael Mann’s daughter, Amy Mann, makes her directorial debut on location in High Point, N.C., at Carolina Atlantic Studios, with the indie pic “Morning,” starring Scott Bakula.

Major pics lensed entirely in the area include Columbia’s “28 Days,” Sony’s “Muppets From Space” and MGM’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.”

Charlotte boasts of region production incentives and an experienced crew base. According to Kelso, 80% of the NASCAR teams call the region home. Wilmington, home to Screen Gems Studios, also has a good production infrastructure.

North Carolina film revenues for 1998 totaled $323 million.

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