A local City Council member wants some type of recognition at the subway station commemorating Michael Jackson’s video masterpiece, Bad, being filmed there.
But the MTA doesn’t think it’s a thriller idea and has told the City Council member to beat it.
The brouhaha came to the fore after Jackson’s death when City Councilmember Letitia James contacted the MTA and asked if they would put a plaque up at the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station noting that he filmed the 1987 video there.
The 18-minute video was written by author Richard Price, directed by Martin Scorsese, starred Jackson and Wesley Snipes, was choreographed by Jeffrey Daniel and featured Jackson with a chorus of singers doing an extended acapella call and response vocal.
The video was No. 1 on both video and music charts for several weeks worldwide.
“I requested it and they told me no plaque,” said James. “At first I wanted the station co-named or some recognition and they told me to basically beat it.”
James said apparently the MTA has never done this before and she was told others have requested plaques where famous scenes were filmed in the subway and the MTA always turned themdown.
“I can understand their position about co-naming the station, but I don’t understand their position for some kind of plaque,” she said.
James said that if perhaps the Jackson family or its foundation donated $100 million to the MTA, they could get a naming rights deal like Barclays Bank recently got as part of developer Forest City Ratner’s deal with the MTA to buy the Vanderbilt Yards and build an arena there.
MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz responded that plaques and memorials as per station guidelines are prohibited.
“On renaming stations we are currently working on guidelines and protocol to see how we can move forward with what we consider to be a viable revenue source,” he said.
The MTA does have an Arts for Transit program, in which one percent of capital funds to rehabilitate or renovate stations must go towards an arts project.
Typically this pays for such art work as ceramic images on station walls and stained glass windows. At 14th Street in Manhattan it includes small statues.
When asked if the Arts for Transit program could commission a statue of Michael Jackson at Hoyt-Schermerhorn, Ortiz responded, “We don’t comment on hypotheticals.”
He addedthat the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station is not scheduled for any capital improvements in the near future.