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Kaufman begins work on outdoor movie lot

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Chris Engelhardt

Construction on the back lot of Kaufman Astoria Studios officially kicked off two weeks ago, making way for New York City’s first outdoor film set.

Kaufman Studios shut down 36th Street between 34th and 35th avenues in Astoria where construction commenced for the project. A spokeswoman for Quinn & Co., a Manhattan-based public relations firm for the studios, said the studios worked with the city and David Rockwell, an award-winning architectural firm, to design the entry gate and rear gate as well as the streetscape of the studio lot. Work is expected to be completed by the fall, she said.

The spokeswoman noted that the outdoor lot, which will run from 34th to 35th avenues, will provide filmmakers with a controlled outdoor environment where temporary sets can be constructed, stunts and car chases can be staged and large-scale equipment can be used.

It will also ensure for productions to shoot exterior and special effects shots adjacent to sound stages. Ultimately, the back lot will enable Kaufman Studios to continue to attract a variety of world-class films and television series, the spokeswoman said.

Kaufman Studios was opened by the legendary Adolph Zuckor in 1920 and is now headed by Chairman George S. Kaufman, an active fixture in the film and real estate industries for more than 40 years, who took over the studio in 1980. He is on the boards of numerous philanthropic and civic organizations, including the Whitney Museum, the Fashion Institute of Technology, The Real Estate Board of New York and the New York City Partnership. He is also chairman of the Fashion Center Business Improvement District.

The studio has attracted a number of neighbors and partnerships over time, including the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, the Museum of the Moving Image, the Queens Council on the Arts and the Astoria Performing Arts Center.

An array of movies and television shows have been shot at Kaufman Studios over the years, including “Sesame Street,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Men in Black 3,” “The Smurfs” and “The Bourne Legacy.” It is now home to such favorites as Amazon’s new series “Alpha House” and Netflix’s new series “Orange Is the New Black.”

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