The Big Apple just got the big kiss-off from Rudy!
The anticipated USA Networks' TV movie, starring James Woods as former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, is dissing Manhattan in favor of Montreal. Producers have decided to shoot the biopic in Canada, where filming is cheaper than in New York.
The move is doubly insulting to Gothamites: Not only will Montreal stand in for New York--a poor substitute, say locals--but Big Apple officials insist that filming in New York would give a boost to city morale and city coffers, especially considering New York is still reeling from the economic fallout of 9-11.
"New York's package of incentives is the best in the nation and offered to all productions set in the city. There is no viable substitute for New York City, and our crews are the best in the world," says Katherine Oliver, commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater & Broadcasting.
Blindsided by the Big Apple backlash, Carlton America and Montreal-based Muse Entertainment, the producers of Rudy!, said Tuesday that they may not completely turn their back on the real Rudy's hometown.
A spokesman for Carlton America says that while most of the filming will take place in Montreal, the company is still considering doing some scenes in Manhattan, though no definitive plans have been set.
The Rudy! dustup is just the latest in a long-simmering battle between major Industry towns, like Los Angeles and New York, and our neighbors to the north, as more and more shoots go abroad. U.S.-based crews have been grousing about runaway production for years, trying to get American lawmakers to offer the same incentives to filmmakers as Canada, where labor costs less (no high-priced unions, eh?), and, thanks to a favorable exchange rate, the dollar can be stretched farther.
As for Giuliani (who hails from Brooklyn), the former mayor is not involved in the film, and his office refused to comment on it. (Though you can bet he'd insist the production stay in the city, if he were still running things.)
Based on an unauthorized biography of hizzoner, Rudy! follows "America's mayor" through 9-11's devastating terrorist attacks, intercut with flashbacks to his days as a feisty district attorney taking on big business and the New York mob, his run for New York City's top job, and the scandal that plagued his last days in office--his divorce from wife Donna Hanover, to be played by Penelope Ann Miller.
While Rudy! might not make a stop in New York, the city's film office says NYC is rebounding, seeing "average" business as several productions shoot about town, most notably Angels in America--HBO's adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tony Kushner, starring Al Pacino and Meryl Streep--and the Julia Roberts vehicle Mona Lisa Smile.
Rudy!, helmed by veteran TV director Robert Dornhelm (RFK, Anne Frank), starts shooting November 7.