Silver scream! Residents preparing for Yom Kippur blast movie production

Actor and Park Slope legend John Turturro stopped by the Brooklyn Academy of Music to present his new film tribute to Naples, “Passione.”
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Observant Jews in Midwood are outraged that the city will let a movie be filmed near Avenue M a day before the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

Residents claim that the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment gave a movie production company affiliated with JC Studios on Avenue M permission to film “Gods Behaving Badly” — a dramedy about Greek gods living in New York City starring Christopher Walken, Alicia Silverstone, John Turturro, and Sharon Stone — outside the Midwood film company near E. 14th Street today, knowing that Orthodox Jews would be unable to park near the bustling commercial strip as they prepare for Yom Kippur.

“It is one hell of an insensitive time to do this,” said Boruch Moskovitz, a resident of E. 13th Street. “I’m not saying they shouldn’t be shooting here, but this is a community where traffic is a major concern all the time and today everybody will be busy running around and shopping for the holiday.”

The city said it will close off five blocks to parking — including parts of E. 13th and E. 14th streets and Locust and Chestnut avenues — so the production company can film, but promised to make a few concessions to the community as the holiday approached.

“Our office has denied a request to have NYPD tow trucks relocate cars that have not moved in time,” said city spokeswoman Marybeth Ihle.

Tow trucks or not, Avenue M merchants said filming a movie so close to Avenue M during the high holy days is an affront to their operations.

“It’s a significant disruption for businessmen like myself,” said Jonathan Zemmol, the owner of the Yellow Door, which sells jewelry on Avenue M. “It’s a grotesque violation before one of the most solemn days of the year.”

Neighborhood legislators were also up in arms, claiming that the city-issued permits were a violation of an agreement it had made with JC Studios to only bar parking from in front of the studio, which takes up much of Avenue M near E. 14th Street.

“Its like attempting to squeeze a large object into a small container,” said Chaim Deustch, the chief of operations for Councilman Michael Nelson (D–Midwood). “If they can’t contain a film within JC Studios without disrupting an entire community’s quality of life, then they should film elsewhere.”

Employees at the studio where “As the World Turns” was filmed until the soap was cancelled in 2009 insisted they weren’t doing anything wrong.

“The permit is for the production company,” said a man who answered the phone at the studio, but refused to identify himself. “We don’t have anything to do with that.”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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