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Two years after fire, Universal Studios reopens New York street scene

May 26, 2010 | 10:02 am

Fire Universal Studios' back lot is rising from the ashes — literally.

The studio on Thursday will unveil its refurbished New York street movie sets that burned down in a fire nearly two years ago, which comes as welcome news to the local production community at a time when Los Angeles is struggling to keep movie and TV shoots from leaving the state. After all, New York is L.A.'s biggest rival and is gearing up to expand its film tax credits.

Location managers have long awaited the reopening of the 13-block New York area, the largest of its kind in Hollywood. Spanning a quarter of a mile, the section offers a number of familiar locations from the Big Apple, including a version of the Trump Tower, the Macy's building and Radio City Music Hall. The area also features a rebuilt Courthouse Square made famous in the "Back to the Future" films and a street re-created to resemble 19th century London.

"It's an invaluable resource," veteran location manager Kristi Frankenheimer said. "I'm glad they rebuilt it."

But even as Universal gives its New York replica a makeover, the studio plans to dismantle or relocate other sets to make way for a residential development that some fear could ultimately make it harder to shoot films and TV shows on-site.

Read the rest of the story about Universal Studios' refurbished New York street here.

-- Richard Verrier

Photo: The scene in June 2008 after a fire swept through Universal's back lot. The theme park is set to unveil its refurbished New York street movie sets Thursday. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times