New Yorkers back to biz amid pain
NEW YORK — With the city’s collective hearts and minds focused on the recovery efforts at the World Trade Center, employees at several showbiz firms began the difficult process of returning to work Thursday.
It was anything but business as usual, however. So with Broadway shows reopening and newspapers still publishing, other industryites said they equated a return to work with a return to some measure of sanity.
“We opened our doors today to regroup,” said Hart Sharp Entertainment principal Jeff Sharp. “Everyone felt that we needed to be together and work through what happened.” The office, he added, will be closed today.
Miramax was carrying on Thursday in alternative offices, including the Talk Miramax headquarters on West 20th Street. All offices for Miramax Films, which includes locations on Greenwich Street, Hudson Street and Beach Street, have been closed indefinitely, along with all other Tribeca businesses.
Some employees were contributing supplies to the rescue effort, and the company is evaluating ways to make a contribution to the cause. Starting today, Miramax will move into temporary offices on 34th Street.
The New Yorker will devote almost all of its Sept. 24 issue (due out Monday) to the events still unfolding in New York, including a story on the city skyline by architecture writer Paul Goldberg. Staffers returned to work Thursday after being evacuated along with other Conde Nast employees due to a bomb scare.
In what would be a first since the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the magazine may not include any cartoons in its next issue.
The cover, however, will carry artwork by Art Spiegelman. When John F. Kennedy Jr. died, the magazine’s cover depicted the Statue of Liberty weeping. It’s hard to imagine a more poignant image for this week.
Logistically, the return will remain a complicated process for all Manhattan outfits.
Lower Manhattan, which in recent years has become the unofficial capital of the Gotham film industry, is virtually inaccessible.
Artisan Entertainment’s office, located just six blocks from the World Trade Center, has been out of commission, though the company plans an inspection Monday and will open if possible.
Six Artisan staffers fled the building after Tuesday’s attack but were unharmed, the company said. Since then, several execs have conducted business via email and cell phone — many from the Toronto Film Festival, where numerous film mavens were marooned.
Other industry offices in Lower Manhattan that remain closed include those of Good Machine, GreeneStreet Films and the TriBeCa Film Center.
With all areas below 14th Street off-limits to commercial traffic and pedestrians without proper identification, only a handful of companies in those neighborhoods returned to work Thursday, including Killer Films and Hart Sharp.
Far from normal
Above 14th Street bomb threats and evacuations continued throughout the day. CNN’s New York headquarters at Penn Plaza were briefly evacuated on Thursday morning following a bomb scare across the street at Madison Square Garden and Penn Station.
CNN anchors Aaron Brown and Paula Zahn, who started their jobs this week, had been broadcasting from the top of the building and had to move to the street. CNN staffers returned to the building by noon.
Conde Nast, which is located in Times Square, evacuated the building at about 11:30 a.m. after a bomb scare. Although the police declared the building safe, the company decided to close the office until Monday. A number of theatrical publicity offices in the Times Square area also received bomb threats.
New Line Cinema and William Morris reopened their midtown offices after closing on Wednesday.
The Mayor’s Office for Film and Television has suspended the issuing of all shooting permits until today at the earliest. Spokeswoman Julianne Cho said that the office has received numerous calls from industryites interested in volunteering for the rescue efforts.
IATSE Local 52 has officially donated its services.
Showbiz offers donations
Sony Corp. said Thursday it will donate $4 million to relief organizations on behalf of its U.S. operating subsids, Sony Pictures, Sony Music and Sony Electronics. Some $3 million is earmarked for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund (New York Chapter) and $1 million to the New York City Public Private Initiatives, which aids families of police, fire and other city employees.
NBC parent General Electric has pledged $10 million for the families of New York firefighters, police officers and rescue workers who died in the rescue effort.
Bertelsmann has pledged $2 million.
Radio giant Clear Channel launched the ClearChannel.com Relief Fund. Two music groups, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Backstreet Boys, got the ball rolling by donating at least $10,000 of their Wednesday evening concert proceeds to the fund.
The Screen Actors Guild and the SAG Foundation also announced a $50,000 donation to the fund. “It is our hope that other unions will follow our lead,” said foundation prexy Mitchell Ryan.
A TV figure of a different sort also appears to have perished in the attack on the World Trade Center.
Angel Juarez — a Gotham firefighter who emerged as the winner of Fox’s summer reality series “Murder in Small Town X” — has not been heard from since Tuesday’s incident.
According to a Fox spokesman, Juarez was one of the first firefighters to respond following the initial plane crash. He is not on any list of survivors and has not been officially accounted for.
(Paula Bernstein, Michael Fleming and Jill Goldsmith in New York and Jonathan Bing and Dave McNary in Los Angeles contributed to this report.)