News From Loews Jersey City
Here’s a great perspective on the latest news from the Loews Jersey City thanks to Stephen Whitty: “Well, it looks like we’re going to have movies at the Loew’s Jersey City a little while longer. The city, which has been trying to evict the non-profit group that has been restoring, programming and managing the theater, lost that lawsuit today. The judge, it seemed — imagine this — ruled that a contract was a contract and the Friends of the Loew’s could stay…
The Friends had saved the city-owned theater from destruction and have been painstakingly restoring it — mostly through volunteer labor, donated materials and small grants. The city wanted to bring in a major promoter instead and, after some lavish renovations, basically reopen the space as a concert hall.
You can read that new story here. (And enjoy a great series of images showcasing the Loews interior)http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2015/05/jersey_city_loses_bid_to_kick_out_nonprofit_group.html
As you can tell, I am not impartial in this. Actually, I think that this small band of movie lovers would go up against Jersey City and win is like something out of a Frank Capra movie. And, not surprisingly, the city’s response to the decision could have been snarled by a Lionel Barrymore villain.
The judge’s ruling, said a city spokesperson, “guarantees the theater will sit as is with only sporadic silent movies, even less frequent concerts, no air conditioning and no ability of the group to complete the restoration. It is upsetting because the most important thing to the FOL was protecting their own personal salaries and fiefdom, despite the fact they can’t complete the repairs after 25 years.”
This is, at best, astounding nonsense.
The fact is that the theater has never shown “only sporadic silent movies” but a full menu of films — along with hosting concerts, drama festivals, and community and private events, all at affordable prices. (Were you there for last year’s “The Shining” Halloween costume party? You should have been.)
It’s true that there is no air-conditioning and that the restoration isn’t complete — plenty of promised funding never arrived, and the FOL has had to rely largely on donations and volunteer labor. It’s not true, as is implied, that anyone is getting rich off this — I’ve read the Friends' tax returns, and according to the last one I saw they had exactly two full-time, not very well-paid, staffers.
The theater does need help and — as the Friends themselves agree, more concert acts can be part of that programming. Anything that brings more life and energy to Journal Square, and more money into the Loew’s box office, is welcome.
But we don’t need to see the Loew’s turned into just one more overpriced, local concert hall booking nothing but the same second-rate acts. We do need one — at least, please, one — picture palace where movie lovers can see films the way they were meant to be shown and local residents and arts groups can have a say in the programming.
This isn’t necessarily a happy ending, because it’s not an ending — even after today’s decision, the Friends' current contract runs only another five years. But for the Friends — and their friends, of which I am obviously and unabashedly one — it is a very welcome intermission."
Read Stephen WHitty’s original love letter to the Loew’s, and watch a video, here: http://www.nj.com/entertainment/movies/index.ssf/2013/08/jersey_city_loews_a_grand_trip_back_in_time.html
Stephen Whitty may be reached at . Follow him on Twitter @stephenwhitty. Find him on Facebook.
Theatre Historical Society of AMerica
Learn more about theatres on our website at www.historictheatres.org