What did she just say? Carrie Bradshaw did what over there? Who ate at that Italian restaurant?
If you’re planning on hopping aboard a New York City sightseeing bus for a tour, questions like that may become more commonplace in the future. The City Council is expected to vote into law today a new rule banning open-air tour bus guides from conversing with the tourists aboard with a loudspeaker. City councilwoman Gale Brewster, who represents part of the West Village, sponsored the bill, saying that the noise from the loudspeakers is so loud it can be heard inside buildings.
Another supporter points out that the bus engines also contribute a huge amount of noise. Residents from a number of (largely upscale) neighborhoods have protested the noise from the buses for quite a while, saying that if you live on or near a bus route, the noise can be heard no matter what floor you live on. The noise also affects those who live near historic districts that are often pointed out on bus tours. Areas such as SoHo and the Village are among those affected.
The tour bus companies, not surprisingly, are not too happy about the proposed law; some officials estimate that it will cost between three and five million dollars to install a new system in which riders would listen through headphones to the guides.
New York has 250 licensed tour buses, about 150 of which have tops that are open in warm weather.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg is expected to sign the bill into law; if it passes, buses will have several years in which to comply.
Film and TV crews are a common sight in New York City, as a slew of TV shows, commercials, and movies are regularly shot all across the five boroughs.
Until now, however, the right to film here has largely been free.
That’s right–access to city-owned parks, streets and other locales have been there for the taking to TV and movie producers and even students making independent films or music videos.
Budget cuts, however, are forcing the city to come up with new ways to make up the lost revenue, and film permits may now be subject to a $300 fee.
If the fee is approved, TV producers would have to pay the amount once per season, while filmmakers would pay the fee once for the duration of shooting–no matter if it’s an NYU production or the sequel to a major zillion-dollar blockbuster.
While the fee may seem surprisingly low, it’s meant to make it easier for smaller producers and directors to be able to come up with the money and not look elsewhere to film.
Some exceptions would apply: Films using hand-held cameras or taking up a tiny amount of space wouldn’t have to pay the fee, and producers can apply for an exemption based on financial hardship.
The Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting had to cut $155,000 from its $2 million budget this year. Most city agencies were ordered last month to cut 7.2 percent of their budgets
TV Shows like “Gossip Girl” and big-budget films such as “Sex and The City” regularly film in New York.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a gun control organization partly overseen by New York’s Mayor Mike Bloomberg, is using footage from the Columbine High School shootings to get their point across. The organization counts more than 500 mayors from across the country as part of their group, which seeks to prevent the purchase and dissemination of illegally obtained guns by criminals. Their aim is to develop laws, practices, and policies that will allow Americans to own guns, but prevent criminals from possessing them illegally. Mayors who belong to the group come from a diverse range of locations , including Orlando, Florida; Portsmouth, VA; St. Paul, MN; and Vista, CA.
More than $250,000 will be spent on ads to air on cable TV stations. The ads, which feature video shot by surveillance cameras at Columbine High School, started running yesterday in states including Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts and Virginia, in order to reach the senators of those states.
The ads make the point that four of the guns used in those horrific shootings were purchased at gun shows, where background checks are not required when purchasing a firearm.
Last year, more than $1.5 million was spent by New York City on detectives who went undercover at gun shows and bought weapons. The detectives even told the sellers that they wouldn’t pass a background check.
Congress has not been able to push through laws requiring background checks for gun purchasers. A spokesman for the National Rifle Association (NRA) said that background checks at gun shows would take too long, and also hamper the rights of gun owners who purchased their weapons legally.
A million New Yorkers may soon be opening their own building doors, taking out their own garbage, doing their own repairs, and hailing their own cabs, as 30,000 workers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island prepare to go on strike. The contracts for the workers at 3,200 apartment buildings across the city expire on Wednesdays; workers include doormen, concierges, porters, and handymen.
The workers, who largely serve upscale buildings, are members of 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union. They have voted to walk off the job if contract negotiations reach an impasse.
Meetings were held across the city this past week, as they discussed both picket line rules and legal issues.
Building owners say they have been affected by the recession, and are asking that the workers reduce the number of sick days from 10 to five, and also pay for 10 percent of family health insurance. Eliminating pensions for new employees is also under consideration, as is denying new workers full pay for five years. The Realty Advisory Board, which represents the building owners, says that costs are going up and income is going down, with real estate taxes rising, rents being cut, and apartments losing value.
Workers say that their current salaries are not enough to cover the costs of raising a family in the city. In addition, they worry that older workers have a strong chance of being laid off, since hiring new ones would ultimately cost less.
Contract negotiations are taking place at the Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan.
Stay tuned—and get ready to pick up your own dry cleaning…
New York’s Governor David Paterson and New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a plan yesterday for the future of Governors Island, the former military base that sits a half mile off the edge of lower Manhattan. It served first as an army base, and later, as a base for the Coast Guard. Negotiations over the future of the island went on for more than a year.
A 2.2 mile promenade will be developed along the waterfront, and 87 acres will be preserved as open space. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2012. Other possible additions include a high school, some commercial areas, and a satellite campus of New York University. Other tenants are also being sought.
Mayor Bloomberg will appoint nine of the Board’s 13 new members, and the redevelopment is seen as a huge coup for his administration–and his legacy.
Under the transfer agreement a casino is not an option.
In 2003, most of the island was given to New York State; New York City will be primarily responsible for developing the island. A battle for control of the island has been waged for some time.
The 22-acre Governors Island National Monument is managed by the National Park Service.
The island can be accessed by a free ferry service and is open to the public during the summer and early fall. It opens in June for the season.
Last year, more than 275,000 visitors took the ferry to Governors Island, to attend concerts and festivals, visit the monument, which includes two historic forts–or simply hang out and admire the views.
The redevelopment is expected to cost $200 million.
The Empire State Building on 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, just added a new lighting system that means that the lights for this monumental building now use 50% less power. The super-efficient commercial LED lighting system cost over a million dollars to install and will recoup its investment within 2 years from the power consumption savings. The iconic Empire State Building has been cleaning up its act as “The Top Of The Rock” at 30 Rockefeller Plaza just overtook it in number of visitors per year. Normally the lights are switched off at midnight to save money and avoid neighbor complaints. Often the lights at night can cause havoc with air traffic as it can blind airline pilots coming in to La Guardia or Newark airports.
The building is responding to other challenges too, from record high office space availability as many of its tenants have either gone out of business or moved to cheaper climes like uptown, downtown or even New Jersey and Long Island.
Get your buzz on: Bees are making a re-entry into New York City.
Last week, the Board of Health in New York voted to once again make beekeeping legal in the city. (Whoo hoo! And for the record, who knew it wasn’t?)
Why, you may ask, were the bees not previously free to show their stripes in our fair city? Well, laws defined honeybees as–are you ready? Dangerous wild animals.
Yes, bees and rampaging grizzles, joining forces once again.
The fine for operating a hive in the city was as much as $2,000. Despite it, many beekeepers (and, don’t tell, one or two restaurants) still raised bees here. (Estimates put the number of beekeepers in New York at about 600, but it’s hard to really know.)
Cities including Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago already allow hives in their cities.
Now, beekeepers will have to register with the city, but they will not have to be licensed.
The new ruling is good news not just for the beekeepers, but also for the bees: Since 2006, a largely unidentified problem has been destroying bee colonies in North America. This collapse has caused a chain reaction that has affected honey production; and, in turn, foods that are made or sweetened with honey.
And, oh yes, if beekeeping has now piqued your interest and you’re looking for the names of famous beekeepers, look no further than the White House: The Obamas have a colony in the organic garden there.
Ever thought about a career in film? Wondering what exactly a rigger does on a film set? Well, now may be your chance to find out.
A program is being launched by Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s administration to help train women, minorities, and New Yorkers who are struggling job-wise to train for jobs in New York’s film and TV production industry.
The training will include teaching hands-on skills like rigging (whatever that may be) and dolly operation. (In other words; you won’t be learning how to be Sandra Bullock’s stand-in, but you will be learning what all that cool equipment does.) Teachers are members of the International Alliance of Theatrical & Stage Employees. It also includes a placement service for mid-level film jobs in those areas.
The first classes launch this spring, and will have about 24 participants. A recruitment event is also being held later this spring, sponsored by the city and held at the New York City College of Technology.
New York is home to a thriving TV and film industry. TV shows from “Sesame Street” to “Ugly Betty” and “Gossip Girl” have filmed (and continue to film) here, while endless movies use the city as a locale, including such recent entries as the “Sex and the City” movies (the latest opens in May) and “Percy Jackson and the Last Olympians: The Lightning Thief.”
While many film and TV shows now shoot in other cities as stand-ins for New York, we know that there’s nothing like the real thing.
Do you miss Conan and his witty banter (O’Brien, that is)? Wondering what he’s been up to since his unfortunate banishment from late-night TV? Well, New York, despair no more—Conan is headed your way.
The (former) TV funnyman announced yesterday that he is embarking on a two-month, 30-city road show tour, featuring comedy and live music. He’ll be at Radio City Music Hall this June 1 and 2. The show will include his sidekick, Andy Richter, as well as the former “Tonight Show” band. If you were wondering if O’Brien has lost his edge, his tour will be starting in…Eugene, Oregon. Yup, you read that right. The tour will cover 20 states and two Canadian provinces, and will primarily include cities and college towns.
O’Brien, for those of you who have stopped reading AOL headlines, left his post as host of “The Tonight Show” in January, when he was unceremoniously usurped by Jay Leno. Leno, of course, had hosted a daily 10 pm show with notoriously low ratings. He was given the coveted night-night slot–leaving O’Brien essentially nowhere to go on television.
As part of his contract, O’Brien is prohibited from returning to the small screen until September 1 of this year.
O’Brien has been in the news a fair amount lately–he recently announced that he would follow a randomly chosen woman on Twitter.
O’Brien held the coveted 11:35 PM TV time slot starting in May 2009. Does he harbor hard feelings towards the whole fiasco and his exodus from TV?
Well, his tour is called the “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on television” tour–so you decide.
Technically Barbie may be in her dotage, but this year she also has a new career as a TV news anchor (her 125th–she’s fickle, that girl.) She comes, of course, with the all-important desk and microphone.
The word comes from New York’s Toy Fair, which opened yesterday and runs through Wednesday, Feb. 17 at the Javits Center.
While the general public doesn’t have access to the show, many of the toys will become available by the end of the year. The event showcases the toys that are destined to be under the tree next Christmas, and presages the bestsellers throughout the year.
From Lego we’ll see new Duplo building blocks aimed at younger kids, as well as new Mindstorm robots.
And a new updated version of Chinese checkers is being released by toy company Pressman (what can they possibly do to it??). With the economy the way it is, more families are rediscovering game night, so their timing is canny.
More than 1,100 exhibiting toy manufacturers, distributors and agents set up shop at the event, which feeds into the $75 billion toy industry; almost 32,000 people from almost 100 countries are expected to attend. It’s the largest international toy trade show in the western hemisphere.
Programs throughout the week include such events as the “Toy Trends Tea”; a session on environmentalism and toys; and a guide to exporting.
So even if you can’t be there, the buzz will start soon–so avoid the hassle, parents, and pick up the toys as soon as they hit the market, rather than waiting furtively on line next Christmas Eve.