From: The Suburbanite, July 9, 1997, p. 1

Armory Rented For Universal Movie

By Linda Berberian of the Suburbanite 

Universal Studios has rented the Armory to film scenes from the upcoming movie Meet Joe Black starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins, scheduled for distribution in 1998.

According to Col. John Dwyer, public information officer for the state Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs, Universal had begun shooting scenes for the film in the Jersey City - Armory, but transferred to Teaneck because larger space was needed for interior scenes for the romantic comedy drama.

Most of the filming is scheduled in New York City, a studio representative said.

The Armory has recently completed the renovations allowing it to reopen its doors to events like the sports and concerts scheduled years ago.

Drills will be halted until October, Col. Dywer said. The National Guard is willing to put up with this situation because of the income engendered by the new rental program. "We are upgrading the quality of life for short term inconvenience," he added.

"The film being partly shot at the Armory is being directed and produced by Martin Brest. Pitt plays an otherworldly character who falls in love with a powerful businessman's daughter while assuming a human identity.

Cast as the daughter is Claire Forlani (The Rock). Hopkins portrays her father.

According to Col. Dwyer, the typical rental cost for the facility can be between $45,000 and $90,000, depending on how much space is needed. The price negotiated by Universal was not available.

"We can maintain and upgrade the facility now, while decreasing the burden on the taxpayer," the colonel said.

The state spent approximately $500,000 to install a fire suppression system that was needed to allow the facility to be opened for public use and leased.

'It's a tremendous capital investment on our part. Over time it should pay for itself by the leasing of the Armory," said Col. Dywer.

Since 1968 the Teaneck Fire Department had forbidden Armory use for the major public events that used to be staged there because the massive building did not meet fire safety code requirements. The state decided to do the work last year after spending thousands on repair of a wall that had collapsed from the snow of the previous winter.

System installation is far enough along for other uses such as sporting events like boxing or basketball, Dwyer said.

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