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Local Hero: Manager of Gotham’s Sunshine Cinema Keeps Double Duty

Nicholas Isani keeps New York theater running, and weeknights he rolls out the red carpet

JOB DESCRIPTION

Nicholas Isani really works two jobs as manager of Gotham’s Sunshine Cinema on East Houston Street. During the day, he’s the exhib’s g.m. — managing employees, paying bills, arranging showtimes, ordering the concession food. But by night, he puts on the pizzazz, becoming marketing manager in charge of organizing and hosting red carpet movie premieres and private rentals. The trick: He tries book as many private rentals as possible on weekday nights, thens turn the place back into a regular movie theater on the weekends.

SPECIAL CHALLENGES

To keep things running smoothly at premieres, Isani says he aims to foster order and routine, but also says it’s important to be agreeable to those renting the venue. “Our attitude with anybody — but especially high profile events — is to say yes to everything,” he says. “If someone wants to hang something on our wall that’s going to rip the paint off, where most people’s answer would be no, we say it’s not going to take us much time to repaint.”

RED CARPET RIDE

Red carpet events have included “The Hangover Part II,” several “Twilights,” “The Place Beyond the Pines,” “This Is the End,” “I’m So Excited” and “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer,” to name a few. He’s worked closely with Snoop Lion on the premiere for docu “Reincarnated” (during which the rapper changed his name from Snoop Dogg) and has booked listening parties for album releases. “Def Jam (Recordings) has done a couple of screenings here,” he says. Isani adds that one time he had a producer give him a “special thanks” credit in the closing scroll of their film “just for being basically on-call for him 24/7 by phone for three weeks leading up to his premiere.”

BACKGROUND

Isani is from the Washington D.C. area and grew up in Northern Virginia. He worked at the Landmark’s E Street Theater in D.C. before moving to the Sunshine job in 2009. This year, he was awarded Landmark’s Manager of the Year honor.

FILM VS. FOOD

Isani says he loves everything about his current job, from the celebrities to the paparazzi to the screaming fans. “I worked at restaurants before,” he says. “One of the reasons I left … was because the boss literally would tell me I should limit my conversation to the food, the restaurant (and) the specials.” Now, he says, he can talk about movies. “This whole environment is pretty electric, and I love it.”

STATS

NAME: Nicholas Isani
TITLE: Manager of Sunshine Cinema, New York
FUNCTION: Runs all day-to-day aspects of the theater, including special screenings and red carpet events
DOMAIN: The theater — 143 E Houston St., New York
YEARS ON THE JOB: 4
NUMBER OF RED CARPET EVENTS OVERSEEN: More than 50

Local Hero is a tribute to the people who are invisible but invaluable: They’re not in the spotlight, but the biz couldn’t function without them.

(Pictured: Isani oversees premieres at New York’s Sunshine Cinema. One time, a producer thanked him in the closing credits for his tireless work.)

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