"Supervisors Delay Vote on Disney Filming in City Hall,
San Francisco's Board of Supervisors Appears in No Hurry to Let
Walt Disney Pictures Make a Movie in City Hall's Historic Legislative Chamber,
and Permission Won't Come Cheaply — If it Comes at All"

by Rachel Gordon, San Francisco Examiner, 2 March 1999

The board was set to vote Monday on a proposal by Supervisor Leslie Katz that would have kick-started official negotiations between city officials and Disney to film a scene in the chamber for the upcoming Robin Williams movie "Bicentennial Man," but backed off consideration for one week when approval looked iffy.

Instead, additional back-room maneuvering will continue, to see whether the proposal can be made more palatable to skeptics and critics concerned about turning the venerable room into a temporary movie set.

Already, the original plan to charge Disney $5,000 a day to use the Manchurian oak-lined chamber has been revised to boost the daily rental rate to at least $20,000, Katz said. And other measures are being looked at to protect the site's architectural integrity.

Katz said several issues remain on the table, and a new proposal will be brought back to the board next Monday. Even then, there is no guarantee the board will grant approval.

Meanwhile, Rory Enke, a location manager for the multimillion-dollar production, said he wasn't sure whether Disney will bite at the new price and anticipated restrictions.

"We'll see," he said, when asked whether the company will agree to The City's demands. "We'll have to see whether they can work for us."

Guidelines for commercial filming in the elaborate meeting room have yet to be developed. City Architect Tony Irons and other city officials will attempt to draft a plan over the next week to present to the board at its next meeting. Supervisor Michael Yaki said issues that might be addressed are lighting restrictions, a limit on the number of days that the room can be used for filming, and other safeguards to protect the chamber from potential damage.

Katz said requirements for insurance and other financial obligations also will be shored up.

City Hall, a national landmark building, recently underwent a major renovation that cost nearly $300 million.

The planned guidelines would affect all potential movie projects in the chamber, not just "Bicentennial Man," a movie set in the future with Williams as a robot with humanlike feelings. In the movie, the legislative chamber would serve as a courtroom in which Williams' character makes an impassioned pitch for the rights of robots.

Disney wants to use the room for five days or so in April or June. In addition to the daily rental fee, Disney would pay $300 a day for a Film Commission permit.

The project has the strong backing of the mayor's film office, although Mayor Willie Brown has yet to publicly give a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down.

©1999 San Francisco Examiner

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