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Gotham gaining prod’n ground

Film, TV shooting days jump 36%

NEW YORK — New York film and TV production is proving immune to nasty weather and a sluggish economy.

Overall film, television and commercial location shooting days for the first six months of the year increased 36% to 8,322 compared with the same period last year, according to numbers just released by the New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting.

Television shoot days showed the most dramatic spike, up a significant 52% to 3,164 due partly to the surge of reality TV shows filming in New York. Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and NBC’s “The Apprentice,” inspired by Donald Trump, and “The Restaurant,” starring celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito, are just a few.

Mixed blessing

New York Film Commissioner Katherine Oliver acknowledged reality TV’s mixed blessing. “Clearly, reality TV does not employ as many people as episodic TV, and that’s disappointing,” she said. “But the good news is that when they come in and shoot in our town, it’s a wonderful postcard for New York.”

Oliver noted that even without the new spate of reality shows, Gotham mainstays such as David Letterman and “Law and Order” producer Dick Wolf have been using the city’s streets as a stage for years.

Pics like “The Stepford Wives” helped boost Gotham feature film shoot days up 31% to 1,200. Commercial days increased 25% to 1,162 compared with last year.

Because the first half of 2002 was still experiencing the after-shocks of 9/11, it is not entirely surprising that production this year is higher in comparison. But considering the months of rain in the spring, and the still-faltering economy, the news is promising nonetheless.

Unpersuaded

Not everyone is convinced of a rebound, however. Thomas R. O’Donnell, prexy of Local 817, the theatrical Teamsters union, retains a healthy dose of Gothamite skepticism. “I’d have to question those numbers. I don’t see a significant difference this year,” he said.

But he did admit that the endless rain was not as devastating to production as he would have thought.

“We had one of the worst years for rain, but if it did have an effect it wasn’t that awful. It should have crippled us but it didn’t.”