Hizzoner Honors ‘Gossip Girl’
By JASON PAFUNDI
|Mayor Mike Bloomberg holds up a special “Gossip Girl” T-shirt that was presented to him.
Did you hear the one about the mayor?
In a star-studded press conference at Long Island City icon Silvercup Studios, Mayor Mike Bloomberg proclaimed Thursday, Jan. 26, as “Gossip Girl” Day in honor of the show’s 100th episode, while highlighting the success of the film and TV industry in the City and its impact on the local economy.
Bloomberg and Media & Entertainment Commissioner Katherine Oliver were joined at the podium by “Gossip Girl” stars Blake Lively, Penn Badgely, Ed Westwick, Matthew Settle, Kelly Rutherford and Kaylee DeFer, along with executive producers Stephanie Savage and Joshua Safran.
Savage said that when the opportunity to make “Gossip Girl” was presented, she was told that filming in New York City would be impossible. But the mission became “New York or bust.”
“We are honored to shoot in this city,” Savage said. “There is no GG without NYC.”
In the last five years, the show — which premiered on the CW on Sept. 19, 2007, and aired its 100th show on Jan. 30 — has spent more than $200 million on local development and employed approximately 6,300 individuals, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.
Last season alone, the show hired more than 120 principal actors, 180 crew members and more than 7,000 background actors, the majority of whom are from the City.
“The industry contributes an estimated $5 billion to our economy every year,” Bloomberg said. “Approximately 100,000 New Yorkers make their livings working behind the scenes in film and television.”
Oliver said that while New York City strongly supports films and commercials, the City is “securing its legacy as the birthplace of modern television.”
|The cast of “Gossip Girl” was honored at Silvercup Studios on filming its 100th episode in Long Island City. Pictured (from left) are show stars Ed Westwick, Kelly Rutherford and Blake Lively and Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
“Clearly in the last few years, New York City seems to be the place for television,” she said. “It’s a great business for us with great jobs for New Yorkers.”
A production like “Gossip Girl” not only brings more national attention to the area, but it brings a big economic impact to the local Long Island City community. Crew members and staffers spend countless hours in the area, and they eat at local restaurants and shop at local stores. Since its debut, the show has used more than 500 local vendors, including lumber and paint from a business in Long Island City.
“Since 2001, we’ve worked to transform this community from an urban industrial park into a dynamic business and residential zone,” Bloomberg said.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) represents Silvercup’s district, and though he admitted to not watching the show, he said he was still a supporter.
“I’m a fan of any show that is smart enough to film in Long Island City,” he said. “I support ‘Gossip Girl’ and ’30 Rock’ and all the episodic shows that film in the area. It’s great to have them here.”
Part of the reason for “Gossip Girl” and other shows’ and movies’ continued use of the City for their production is due to the New York State Film Production Credit. According to Alan Suna, CEO of Silvercup Studios, more productions would follow Fox’s “Fringe”, which moved from Silvercup to Canada because of the lack of a tax credit a few years ago.
“Without this program in place, even successful shows would just pick up and move to a location where a tax credit is available,” Suna said. “[It’s vital to] keep these programs and the jobs and tax revenue it creates to ensure these programs continue filming in New York.”
State Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) — who represents the district home to Silvercup, Kaufman-Astoria Studios and Broadway Stages — was one of the major proponents of the tax credit and sees it as a tremendous way to keep the entertainment industry in the area, especially Long Island City.
“The success of the film and TV industry is one of the great success stores in western Queens in a difficult economy,” Gianaris said. “The fact that there is a sector of the economy in Queens is booming has helped us get through a difficult [time].”
Reach Reporter Jason Pafundi at email@example.com or (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128.