New York Times
September 24, 1981
Broadway, The Clock Read 1954
By Herbert Mitgang
On Broadway and 50th Street yesterday, it
was 1954. The Packards and Buick Dynaflows and highbacked Checkers heading
downtown on signal were Simonized, chromed and fintailed; the men walking on cue
across the street wore felt hats with gangster-wide brims, the women were
dressed in New Look calf-length skirts; some of the lads in leather jackets had
their ducktails brilliantined; and, if anyone doubted that the clock was being
set back, the newspapers on the corner stand included The New York Herald
Tribune and The Daily Mirror.
The reason for the temporarily stalled
traffic every 10 minutes or so all morning along Broadway and on the 50th Street
eastbound crosstown bus was the latest Hollywood-on-the-Hudson epic called ''My
Favorite Year,'' an M-G-M comedy about the black-and-white, golden age of live
television. It's being filmed around Broadway, Rockefeller Center, Central Park,
the Waldorf Towers and Brooklyn for the next few weeks before heading west for
the real make-believe world of the M-G-M studios.
50's in the 80's
To make it all look authentically 50's in
the 80's, the marquee on the Rivoli Theater facing north within the camera angle
read ''House of Wax'' - the very movie then playing; to the south, the marquee
told the truth - the Rivoli is being converted into a twin-cinema house.
The Howard Johnson sign on the northeast corner of 49th Street didn't have to be
changed; it was there then. Three hundred extras from the Screen Actors
Guild did their silent stroll when Richard Benjamin, the actor-turned-director,
yelled ''action,'' and 50 vintage automobiles, rented from collectors all around
the city, ground their gears into first, making some puzzled pedestrians and
motorists wonder if they were living inside a newsreel from Havana.
This was all for the sake of an
establishing shot, explained Norman Steinberg, the scenarist, in a Brooksfilm /
Michael Gruskoff production that's about a Mel Brooks-type (played by Mark
Linn-Baker) comedy writer who meets a fading Errol Flynn-type (played by Peter
O'Toole) in a ''Show of Shows''-type program called ''Comedy Cavalcade'' in this
movie-type movie about early television.
Lieut. Jesse Peterman of the Police
Department's motion-picture and television unit had 10 officers on Broadway and
the side streets directing and redirecting traffic like real instead of Keystone
Kops. ''It's causing a little congestion but no major problem,'' he
said. ''The city is glad to be of service.''