NEW YORK — Hurricane Floyd blew into Gotham Thursday, closing network offices, halting film productions and pulling the plug on power lunches. Showbiz folk and the rest of the soggy city left work early, fleeing wind, rain and flooding.
“Pi” producer Randy Simon was patting himself on the back for having avoided the storm by hastily wrapping up filming his new indie, “Ín the Weeds,” late Wednesday.
Jerry Bruckheimer, who had planned to finish shooting “Ugly Coyote” for Disney on Thursday, pulled out two days early instead.
Bridges were closed and commuter trains stalled. New York governor George Pataki declared a state of emergency in New York City and on Long Island.
Public schools, libraries, museums and even banks shut down, and businesses were urged to release all non-essential personnel by 2:00 p.m. The big broadcast networks, HBO, ABC, NBC and other media outlets were operating their New York digs on a shoestring staff.
Despite a request from Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ stayed open, but volume was thin as traders disappeared. The New York Mercantile and Commodity Exchange and the New York Bond Market were shuttered early.
Industry trade show ShowBiz Expo at the Jacob K. Javits Center closed at 3 p.m. New York’s Sixth on 7th Fashion Week shows, held in tents in Bryant Park, were rained out.
Farther south, Floyd shuttered production for a second day running on “The Sally Hemings Story,” a four-hour CBS miniseries from Craig Anderson Prods. shooting in Richmond, Va. Producer Craig Anderson spent most of Thursday biting his nails wondering if the wind and rain would decimate the $1 million-plus replica of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate, built for the mini about Jefferson’s long love affair with one of his slaves.
“We were told to expect 80 mph winds, and there’s no way our Monticello, which is not a permanent structure, could withstand that,” Anderson said.
Although he overacted, Floyd actually had pretty good timing. The hurricane picked a midweek perf and September — historically one of the worst months at the legit box office, anyway — to open his act.
While the new 1999-00 season is expected to fill all 35 Broadway theaters, the troubled Lyceum excepted, only 22 theaters presently house shows, so there wasn’t much for Hurricane Floyd to disrupt Thursday.
(Cynthia Littleton and Charles Lyons in Los Angeles contributed to this report.)