Gotham adding prod’n studio

San Francisco architectural firm Bastien & Associates has come on board New York’s Stapleton Studios project in Staten Island.

Harbour Entertainment topper Marlowe R. Walker is partnering with actor Danny Aiello in the project, which is expected to generate more than 1,500 jobs. The partners, together with private investors, have $125 million in financing in place.

Stapleton Studios, to be incorporated into an already functioning studio operation, is slated to have 320,000 square feet of facilities: three 21,000-square-foot soundstages, plus eight soundstages ranging in size from 2,400 to 5,900 square feet and one 18,000-square-foot soundstage.

Unique in structure, the four largest stages will be capable of being opened up to each other, providing more than 460 feet of continuous linear stage area. Bastien touts the facility as state-of-the-art with ultraquiet electrical and air-conditioning systems. It also will have covered service areas between stages to enable year-round shooting in inclement weather. Storage, lighting and grip areas and dressing rooms will be attached to the stages for easy access.

Bastien & Associates is noted for its design of the Gene Roddenberry Building on the Paramount lot, as well as the Raleigh Manhattan Beach Studios — the first new Southern California studio built from the ground up in 65 years — and downtown L.A.’s Los Angeles Center Studios. They also have worked for CBS Studio Center, Warner Bros. and DreamWorks.

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is reported to have given the project his blessing, after three years of negotiations, in the final days of his administration.

Safety a priority

After 9/11, security for the waterfront studio became more of an issue, with a U.S. battleship and the HMS Bounty tourist attractions nearby.

Stapleton’s designs also call for promenade shops, a cineplex, food court and other retail components, in addition to a 200-room hotel and conference center, yacht club, 500-boat marina and an office building. This necessitated the architects creating a careful segregation of the retail and marina components, with the flow of people in and out of the facilities carefully organized with multiple layers of security.

“We are always hopeful and optimistic about the announcements of new studio development,” said N.Y. film commissioner Patricia Reed Scott. “New studios are crucial to helping New York City attract feature films and retain quality television.”

According to Walker, production deals have been booked for the existing facility, beginning in August. Construction for the new studio is skedded to start next spring and is expected to last 12 months.

Real to Reel Location Agency has taken as a client L.A.’s Beverly Center, which is opening its doors to production companies interested in filming or taping in a major mall.

The move is meant to demonstrate the Beverly Center’s support of the local entertainment industry and help halt runaway production. It also may be a step to lure back runaway shoppers now frequenting the newly opened nearby mall at the Grove.

Bordering Beverly Hills and Hollywood at La Cienega and Beverly boulevards, the Beverly Center features more than 160 specialty boutiques and restaurants and a 13-screen movie theater.

Showbiz assist

“This is an amazing facility with a rich variety of looks, great accessibility and a super management team. I believe production companies who film there will get tremendous value,” said Gary Onyshko, Real to Reel VP. “Besides a spectacular mall look, there is an amazing rooftop that offers a heliport and stunning 360-degree views, a rooftop terrace, seven miles of hallways, as well as an underground parking area that can be shot as a nightclub entrance and a host of other remarkable looks.”

“It’s time to help keep production at home and support the people of Los Angeles by making Beverly Center more accessible as a place to film,” said Laurel Crary, the mall’s general manager. “While we have hosted some filming in the past, we decided to be more aggressive and do our part.”

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