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According to current property tax records the City of Newark sold Symphony Hall to the County of Essex for just over $5 million dollars and it is now owned and operated by the Essex County Improvement Authority a semi-autonomous county agency which also owns and operates Essex County Airport in Caldwell/Fairfield. IMHO it looks like Joe D. and Essex County got quite a bargain for Symphony Hall.
Newark Symphony Hall has a long proud history of being the center of Northern New Jersey broadcasting.
Bremer Broadcasting based two of its broadcast properties in Symphony Hall, WATV Channel 13 a commercial broadcaster and WAAT-FM 94.7FM which broadcast jazz, classical and easy listening music, Bremer would later sell the stations to National Telefilm Associates who changed the TV station call-letters to WNTA-TV and WNTA-FM and when NTA split up its holdings Channel 13 became public broadcaster WNET owned by Educational Broadcasting Corporation who moved the station from Symphony Hall to new facilities on West 33rd Street in Midtown Manhattan in New York City while maintaining a small office and studio at Gateway Center across from Newark Penn Station in order to be in compliance with their FCC City of License requirement.
WNTA-FM was sold to a small religious broadcaster Family Stations Inc. who changed FM station’s call-letters to WFME and moved the studios, offices and transmitter from Symphony Hall to 289 Mount Pleasant Avenue in the suburban town of West Orange.
In 1965 a small little known independent english language television station WNJU-TV Channel 47 signed on the air from the space which was formerly occupied by WATV/WNTA/WNET and WATV-FM/WNTA-FM, In 1984 WNJU went spanish joining the NetSpan television network which would later change their name to Telemundo. WNJU moved from Symphony Hall in 1989 to Industrial Road in Teterboro and then 14 years later they moved again, this time to the former broadcast facilities of sister cable network CNBC (CNBC has since moved to Engelwood Cliffs).
I miss the Union Drive-In. Anyone know the name of the woman who used to do the telephone recording? She had a really gravelly voice (probably from too many years of smoking) which went something like “This is a recorded message from the Union Drive-In Theater located on Route 22 Eastbound Lane in Union. The box office opens at 6pm our features are… (Name of movies then announced), Admission is $3 for adults, children under 10 are free thank you for calling.”
and BTW the Essex Green I-II-III address was not Rooney Circle, at least when I worked there all our mail came to a Prospect Avenue address.
Just a where are they now moment, John Monsport the longtime manager of the Essex Green I-II-III and his wife who was the manager at the Rusty Scupper restaurant (now a Courtyard by Marriott hotel) now run the AmericanPlace Movies on Route 202 in Flemington.
My mind is totally spacing and I could be wrong but I seem to recall that Cinema 23 like the Colony in Livingston was originally part of the United Artists Theatres circuit?
There are some changes ahead for the Essex Green Cinema. AMC is closing the 13 year old theater as a Nineplex in the beginning of August and will tenatively reopen it in December as the state’s first Fork & Screen theater. According to the West Orange Patch website (See link below) AMC will reduce the theater capacity by 65 percent with the remaining 35 percent used for luxury dining. Admission to the Fork and Dine will be restricted to patrons 18 years of age and older unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. The Cinema Suites only are for guests 21 years of age or older.
AMC Theater to Close, Undergo Renovation as State’s First ‘Fork & Screen'
I was employed by the GCC Essex Green Cinemas from September 1987 to September 1988 and enjoyed working with a lot of the people there. BTW does anyone happen to know what became of our two projectionists Jimmy Heckle and George (I can’t remember his last name).
Here’s a piece of trivia that I’m sure none of you knew, the Motion Picture Machine Operators Union ran their local out of the 2nd floor of this theater and it’s funny not only did they represent the projectionists at a few porn houses but also at most if not all of the major theater chains in Northern New Jersey including Cineplex Odeon, General Cinema and United Artists. Prior to moving to Newark the union was based in an adjacent office in the projection booth at the Millburn Theater in Millburn which I believe was around 1986-1987. The union has since been disbanned.
Hey movie534 I have a couple of questions, who was your theater manager and did Richie Harrington work there when you were the projectionist? I worked at Essex Green in West Orange from Sept ‘86 to Sept '87 and occassionally he got pawned off to us when our manager John Monsport or the assistant manager John Boyd weren’t available to work.