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Filming of ‘Godzilla’ monstrous for some New York residents

May 15, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ Kamikaze cabbies and crowded subways are a couple of the everyday challenges New Yorkers face. This week people in a lower Manhattan neighborhood had to deal with something a little more out of the ordinary _ a big green monster.

TriStar Pictures filmed street scenes for its $90 million remake of the monster epic ``Godzilla″ in the city’s Flatiron district.

And though the fire-breathing menace didn’t actually make an appearance _ he’ll be added to scenes later through the use of computer animation and puppets _ several people said the disturbance caused by gawkers and the film crew was monstrous.

Hundreds of people crowded into Madison Square Park Wednesday night to watch actor Matthew Broderick race down Broadway under teeming rain towers.

Police cordoned off about 10 blocks and pedestrians were forced to walk out of their way to reach their destinations.

Laurence Jacobs, owner of the upscale restaurant Aja on 22nd Street, complained that dinner business was off 75 percent during the three days of filming because his patrons’ car services couldn’t reach the entrance.

Diesel fumes blown into the windows from some of the special-effects equipment drove clients away gasping, Jacobs said, and the moviemakers merely told him to close his windows.

``For me it was unfathomable that they did not let me know that this would be disruptive to my business,″ said Jacobs, claiming he lost $35,000 in business.

A spokesperson for the production company, Big Fin, was not immediately available to comment on Jacobs’ request.

David Tetens, owner of the bar Barzil, said his business was down 50 percent.

``They won’t let you past the police lines,″ he complained. ``There’s no foot traffic.″

But a hot dog vendor was doing brisk business off rubberneckers in the park Wednesday night, and some restaurants were filled with production people on break.

And not everybody in the area was upset by the commotion.

``I have a friend who lives in the building who says it keeps him up till 4 a.m. ... but he says he doesn’t mind it,″ said Suzanne Nece.

Filmmakers worked between 8 p.m. and sunrise Monday night through this morning to cause the least disruption; notified residents and businesses of their presence in advance with leaflets, and offered people blackout curtains, said executive producer Bill Fay.

He said he suspects a rash of negative publicity surrounding the filming came about because the filmmakers _ Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin _ also made ``Independence Day,″ the smash hit known for its over-the-top explosions and special effects.

``I think people get a little nervous that because of `Independence Day’ there’s going to be a big ball of fire running down the street,″ Fay said.

Julianne Cho of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting said the city had received ``very few″ complaints.

Movie-making is big business in New York, which saw a third consecutive record year in 1996, with $2.23 billion in direct expenditures for film _ up from $1.43 billion in 1993. More than 200 movies were filmed in the city last year.

``Godzilla″ is scheduled to open Memorial Day 1998.

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