But some residents are miffed over uproar caused by filming

'HOMICIDE' TV SERIES TO VISIT FELLS POINT

August 13, 1992|By Edward L. Heard Jr. | Edward L. Heard Jr.,Staff Writer

Some people say there's no business like show business.

But some Fells Point residents say the city has no business allowing a Los Angeles-based film company to shoot six episodes of a TV series called "Homicide" in their neighborhood without first addressing the community's concerns.

The filming, scheduled for mid-September through mid-November, will disrupt recreational activities, businesses and parking, residents say. They are also miffed because Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke approved the filming before the city addressed concerns raised at a community meeting earlier this month.

"The city was not very thoughtful," said Bud Billings, 55, president of the Fells Point Home Owners Association. "It was dumped in our lap without consideration of what's going on here."

Some Fells Point residents are particularly rankled because the filming will disrupt activities at the Broadway recreation pier. As a result, the city will move many of its programs to the Clarence Du Burns Soccer Arena on Boston Street -- a mile and a half away.

Residents said the Du Burns center is not equipped to house all of the activities offered by the recreation pier.

The pier is an integral part of the Fells Point Community, attracting more than 1,000 people to a variety of programs offered there each month. "We hope it's temporary," said Darcy Norton, one of several residents who helped build the "tot lot" for kids. "There's only a certain amount of inconvenience we can put up with."

The series is based on "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets," a book by Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon. Barry Levinson's Baltimore Pictures Inc. is filming the series.

City officials say the series will put Baltimore into the national limelight and Fells Point businesses will benefit from the money spent there by the film crew.

But the official optimism is not shared by Steve George, who owns two restaurants in Fells Point.

Mr. George said the area's businesses did not get a big boost when Mr. Levinson filmed large portions of "Avalon" in Fells Point a few years ago. He also said that many patrons were inconvenienced by the lack of parking caused by the influx of film workers.

"It's not a positive thing," Mr. George said. "It totally disrupts the community. The Fells Point area is just going to be run over again, and I don't like it."

Mr. George added that the title of the film -- "Homicide" -- will give Baltimore a negative image.

Meanwhile, city officials said they are still working on how to provide and pay for transportation to the Burns center and ways to ease the parking problems caused by the production company's vehicles and equipment.

"Our community has an 18th century design, with no alley to park in," said Jack Trautwein, owner of PJ's, a gift shop on Lancaster Street. "Unfortunately, we live in the 20th century transportation era."

Rose Greene, director of the Baltimore Film Commission, said Mr. Levinson's company will not be charged rent for its use of the recreation pier, but will be subject to permit fees for closing streets for filming or redirecting traffic.

The production company has agreed to requests by the Fells Point Business Association to upgrade parts of the pier, according to a letter from the mayor.

"We understand the benefit of having a major production in the city," Ms. Greene said.

"We try to encourage people to come here by making it affordable to come here," he said.

Ms. Greene said the company has budgeted $4 million to spend during the production here in the next few months, not including salaries to stars and company executives.

"I don't think anything but good can come out of it for Fells Point residents," she said.

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