Burn Notice eviction could heat up Broward's economy
By Catherine Lackner
If Miami hands TV series "Burn Notice" an eviction notice, Broward County could be the beneficiary of millions in spending and positive global impressions. While area businesses will feel the heat, Miami's image might take a bigger hit, observers say.
A group of film industry representatives plans to appeal at today's (7/26) Miami City Commission meeting to keep the show here.
If producers can't resolve their dispute with the city over the former Coconut Grove Exposition Center, they might move north after filming ends in October, said Bob Lemchen, senior vice president, production, at Fox Television Studios. While Fox considered other Miami sites, "We've had better luck looking in Broward. There's a higher percentage of warehouse space," he said.
Another Fox-produced series, "The Glades," films there, and two shows are rumored to be coming to Broward next year, so vendor relationships are in place.
"Burn Notice" has filmed in the 107,000-square-foot Grove space for six years, paying $240,000 per year, but the city wants to raze the building for a waterfront park. To move would cost about $1 million, Mr. Lemchen said.
During lease negotiations last year, Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff suggested the show move to the Miami Entertainment Complex, a city-owned building on Northwest 13th Street that is meant to be a film studio. Terry Miller, the executive producer, said then that wasn't feasible, and he reiterated it this year.
Taking "Burn Notice" to Broward might be a multi-year proposition. Despite a persistent rumor that a seventh season would be its last, "the studio has never said this," Mr. Lemchen said.
While crew jobs may transfer, most incidental spending — hotel room nights, restaurant meals, food service, supplies and hardware — would not, he said. During the show's first five years, Fox spent more than $100 million, including nearly $63 million in wages, and generated in excess of 13,000 room nights, mostly in Miami.
"The local businesses will probably see a loss of revenue," said Sandy Lighterman, film and entertainment industry liaison for the Miami-Dade Office of Film and Entertainment. ""Burn Notice' frequents them on a daily basis. But it's not just a Coconut Grove issue; it's a city-wide issue. The image of the city will no longer be broadcast into living rooms all over the world. "Burn Notice' has become iconic Miami."
"The show is seen in 56 countries," said Leah Sokolowsky, president of the Film Florida advocacy group. "If the city were to buy advertising equivalent to the positive exposure Miami gets from "Burn Notice,' the cost has been estimated at $170 million per year."
"It's good news if they stay in South Florida," said Andrew Nathanson, a producer and former location coordinator, "but it's a big loss for Miami, with our tourist-driven economy. Most cities would bend over backwards for a major tourism asset like this."
"It's very important to keep them here," said Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro. "We need to work with them to create conditions that induce them to stay here, to invest, and to grow."
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