July 15--A "top-secret" commercial film project is the reason that drivers won't be able to use the Skyway for four hours Tuesday.
And those with knowledge of the project won't say exactly why helicopters may be flying at low altitudes to film the downtown area from overhead the same day.
The state Department of Transportation announced Friday that the Skyway will be closed to all traffic in both directions between the Niagara Thruway and Ohio Street between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesday because of a "filming event." Not many other details were available, even from Tim Clark, the head of the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission.
"I've signed all sorts of nondisclosure agreements," Clark said.
But a source with inside knowledge of the project hinted that the project is for a widely known television show on a major network, though not one of the "Big Three" -- ABC, CBS or NBC.
The actors and actresses involved in the shoot may be recognizable to some, but they aren't necessarily household names, the source added.
The filming will take place on the raised portion of the Skyway, so the only people who might be able to learn of the proceedings would be those on the upper floors of surrounding buildings.
The shoot is the latest in a series of film projects that have used Western New York as a backdrop to the action on screen.
On June 27, Academy Award winners Kathy Bates and Susan Sarandon filmed a closing scene for "Tammy," an upcoming road comedy, at the observation deck at Niagara Falls State Park. Actress Melissa McCarthy was also in the scene.
"Tammy" stars McCarthy as a woman who embarks on a road trip after losing her job and discovering that her husband has cheated on her. She's accompanied by her grandmother, played by Sarandon, who drinks heavily.
Dan Aykroyd and Allison Janney round out the cast, and the shoot in Niagara Falls included local actors and crew members.
Parts of another major motion picture were shot at Ralph Wilson Stadium in May. Extras were paid $120 per day to contribute to "The Best Man Holiday," a Universal Pictures sequel to 1999's "The Best Man."
Terrence Howard, Harold Perrineau, Regina Hall and Taye Diggs star in the movie, a comedy, and the director is Malcolm D. Lee, a cousin of Spike Lee.
Local lawmakers have recently proposed legislation to increase tax credits that would make it easier for film crews to finance bringing talent and equipment to Western New York from New York City.
Clark said Western New Yorkers may have to get used to seeing camera crews and street closures in the area.
"Buffalo seems to be seen as a site for filmmakers and producers to shoot in," Clark said. "I think we have such a vast inventory of architectural assets and a great-looking community that hasn't really been seen a lot."
He added that the film projects are good for the local economy and the city's national image.
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