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  • Michael Krakovskiy 4:05 am on September 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 30 Rock, , , , , Die Hard, Jane Krakowski, John McClane, , Kenneth Cole Productions, Larry David, Louisiana, Massive Dynamic headquarters, , , , , , , Rockefeller Plaza, , The Birth of a Shoe Company   

    Cinematic New York 

    When you live and work in New York, you spend a huge amount of time on tv and movie sets. Most of the time the sets are abandoned by the shooting crews, but very frequently tv or movie magic is happening as you are walking by.

    Why is New York so overrepresented on screen? Part of it is because it’s New York. But it’s also because the city government is also very friendly to the moving picture industry.

    When I worked on a website for Kenneth Cole, I learned an interesting factoid: the real name of this fashion powerhouse is Kenneth Cole Productions. It turns out that in the early days they abused a perk that the city gives to movie people: ability to park their huge trailers in places where normally only city services vehicles can linger. Cole applied for a permit to shoot a movie called “The Birth of a Shoe Company”, parked a huge truck in front of a hotel where a major shoe show was taking place, and proceeded to sell enough shoes while cameras were rolling (sometimes even with film) to start a company.

    While watching a movie or a show set in New York I get a lot of “oh, hey it’s” and a lot of “hmm, where’s that?” moments. Sometimes a movie or a show becomes more memorable just because its locations are so familiar to me.

    Let me give you some examples about how cinematically impregnated my environs are. Take, for instance 30 Rock. I spent 7 years working in two buildings that are behind 30 Rock, and every little thing in, under and over Rockefeller plaza is seared in my brain. Also, I have the same last name of one of the actors (is Jane Krakowski a relative? Probably not).

    The 47-50th Street/Rockefeller Center subway station that I got out at almost every day for those 7 years (unless I missed a few stops while reading or sleeping) is the one featured in a key scene in Darren Aranofsky’s “Pi”. The Brighton Beach bus stop in “Requiem for a Dream” – one of my first American jobs was right there, handing out fliers for a gypsy psychic. One of the buildings where I worked, 1211 Avenue of the Americas was very subtly featured as Sideshow Bob’s prisoner number in a Simpson’s episode.

    Sterling Cooper corporate headquarters are famously located at a non-existing 405 Madison Avenue. On the other hand 415 Madison Avenue is a very real building where my wife used to work.

    When I go to and from work now, I pass a grating which John McClane ripped off in one of the Die Hard movies to jump on the top of a moving train. The building where I work? Well, it doubles as the Massive Dynamic headquarters on “Fringe”. They do a lot of shooting at the floor where I work. You can see our big conference room called “Jail” in a number of commercials. You know, Doctor House, he’s supposed to stay in New Jersey, but one time he slept on “my” couch at the office after shooting a commercial there. The butterflies of doom from Fringe also live in “Jail”.

    Ironically, the only famous person who went to my hight school is Larry David, the co-creator of a certain show about nothing set in New York, but shot in LA.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 7:40 am on May 23, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Indian restaurant, , , , , , , , , Rockefeller Plaza, Top of the World   

    Time to Get on the Top of the Rock
    or
    Can You Smell What’s Cooking at the Top of the Rock? 

    There’s one thing that I hate about Chrysler Building. It does not have a public observation deck. I feel that any major skyscraper needs to have two things at the top: a restaurant and an observation deck.

    To the owners the public areas at the top are usually a pain in the ass and rarely pay for themselves. Having a lot of people from the street come up to the very top of the building, adding to the overall traffic is not fun for building management from the security standpoint. I remember reading about the co-op board of a posh building at 30 Central Park South trying to evict Nirvana, a top floor Indian restaurant with amazing views of Central Park. They complained about the traffic and the cooking smells.

    Because of this most buildings that used to have observation decks and restaurants closed them. Over a the Tishman Building Top of the Sixes turned into an exclusive cigar club. At the City Services Building the public observation deck, which was actually planned as the owner’s penthouse, was turned into a closed lounge for AIG brass. An at the Chrysler Building, the observation deck became Schrafft’s Restaurant, then it morphed into posh and private Cloud Club, and then closed altogether.

    When I was younger, I was not particularly attracted to the views from high vantage points. But for some reason at the turn of the Millennium found me deeply fascinated with skyscrapers and views from them. To this day I can’t forgive myself not visiting the observation deck at WTC. I probably did not have enough money to eat at the perished Windows on the World, but not visiting Top of the World still fills me with remorse.

    Because of this upsetting tendency of restriction and destruction public spaces high in the skies, I find this very joyous news: the rocket-like 30 Rockefeller Plaza will be opening an observation deck to the public. It’s going to be called “Top of the Rock.”

    Rockefeller Center has an interesting distinction of being one of the very few Rockefeller family projects that carry their name (the other big one being Rockefeller University). Most people also think that it’s built and named after John D. Senior, the Mr. Burns prototype and semi-crazy hander outer of nickels, when in fact, it was the mellow John D. Junior who built it.

    Since the Rockefeller name is not that popular, it’s common to see “Rockefeller Center” to be shortened to sexier “Rock Center”, as for example the menu of Yummy Sushi contains several sushi combos named Rock X, where X is a number of the combo.

    As much as I tried, I could not find out a more definite date than “sometime this fall”, but one of the free booklets that you can get in the lobby of the GE (former RCA) building has a little blurb and the logo. I like the logo. It’s all Art Deco-ey.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 12:20 pm on January 29, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Avenue of the Americas, Bauhaus, Celanese, Celanese Building, , , Cubism, Eastern Airlines Building, Klee, , Mural, , , , Painting, Paul Klee, Robert Natkin, , Rockefeller Plaza,   

    State Of The Art 

    “Robert Natkin discovered his calling at age 17, in Chicago, when he opened a book and stumbled on the intense abstract art of Paul Klee. He was stunned by the beauty, the color harmonies, and the “music” in Klee’s work.” And decided to rip him off. Behold – the mural at the Newscorp Building (formerly Celanese Building):

    Apparently people pay Mr. Natkin to do this sort of stuff. This only shows that corporate art today ain’t what it used to be. Here’s a mural from the former Eastern Airlines Building (currently bleakly called 10 Rockefeller Plaza ):

     
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