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Tow Trucks For Hire In ‘Spencer’ Filming; Residents Not Amused

March 12, 1986

BOSTON (AP) _ On television, the star of ″Spenser: For Hire″ battles fictional thieves, murderers and thugs on the streets of Boston. In real life, the company that makes the show is sparring with motorists - on the streets of Boston.

The program’s production company has towed at least a dozen cars in recent weeks to clear the streets for filming.

But that’s all part of the price paid for going Hollywood, say officials of the state agency that encourages movie makers to come to Massachusetts.

″I think what we have here is a citizenry that is not cooperating,″ said Julie Wrinn, director of the Massachusetts Film Bureau. ″You have a citizenry that’s fed up (with the city’s parking shortage) with or without ’Spenser.‴

″Spenser: For Hire,″ in its first year on ABC, chronicles the adventures of a brainy sleuth, played by Robert Urich, as he solves crimes from Boston’s trendy Back Bay to the seedy sections of the waterfront.

Ms. Wrinn said residents should remember that the show pours $100,000 a day into the city’s economy.

″And the amount of exposure they are giving Boston is unbuyable in terms of tourism dollars,″ she said. ″People don’t see the larger picture, in terms of lowering the tax rate and jobs.″

Mark Gallo thinks that’s all very well, but he doesn’t think his truck should have been towed away.

″It’s nice seeing Boston on TV,″ he said, ″but it’s not worth this kind of hassle.″

Gallo, 29, said it took him 3 1/2 hours to get his truck back and he had to pay a $14.50 towing charge. Then he found the vehicle, only two months old, had been scraped when it was towed.

The towing has been legal - ″No Parking″ signs were posted 24 hours beforehand - but some residents say they weren’t given enough warning or that signs were torn down.

The car of Howard Pekley, who walks with a cane, was towed away Feb. 13.

″If I had seen any signs, I never would have parked there,″ he told The Boston Globe. ″I’m disabled. I don’t want my car towed.″

Alexandra Decker, location manager for ″Spenser″ did not return phone calls Tuesday, but Ms. Wrinn said she hopes a compromise can be found.

But a film bureau official in New York, where a number of television shows and movies are made each year, predicted Tuesday that it may take Boston and the production company a while longer to get used to each other.

″In some urban areas like Boston and New York, finding a parking space can be a religious experience,″ said Patricia Scott, director of the New York Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting.

″The best production companies try to work with people and not against them and they develop some skills at that. They become friendly with the residents. They leaflet before towing. They provide lots for cars that have to be towed,″ she added.

″But residents have to remember, the streets belong to everybody.″

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