One World Observatory: With a view from the skies, New York heals

29 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

New World Trade Centre observatory opens, banishing memories of the Twin Towers.

For New Yorkers, the void in the downtown skyline that was for so long dominated by the Twin Towers was as much of a scar on the city as the gaping holes at Ground Zero.

It has taken more than nine years to complete and its Observation deck, which visitors can access via a 47-second elevator ride up 102 storeys, is expected to become one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions.One World Observatory, the viewing deck at Manhattan’s 1 World Trade Center, opens Friday, giving tourists New York vistas that were lost on 9/11 and helping to cover the cost of the most expensive building ever. Those clear skies were a constant reminder of the terrible day in September 2001 when al-Qaeda terrorists flew hijacked passenger planes into the World Trade Centre, the two structures that were once the tallest buildings on the planet. For those trapped above the floors where the hijacked jets smashed into the structures – including some 160 staff and customers in the Windows on the World restaurant, with its legendary views of the New York skyline – there was no escape. At 365 metres – more than 1200 feet – off the ground, visitors can see 80 kilometres in every direction, from the shores of New Jersey to Manhattan’s iconic skyline, over Brooklyn and beyond, and even down on to Lady Liberty.

That amount — an estimate of the rent to be generated from events, ticket sales, souvenirs and other moneymaking efforts — represents about 27 percent of the $3.3 billion it cost to construct the Western Hemisphere’s tallest building, at 1,776 feet (541 meters). That terrible history is impossible to forget, he noted. “I think that every single person who steps into this elevator will think about what happened that day and maybe quietly ask themselves ‘OK, I’m doing this?’ “But once you’re up here, those thoughts are immediately dispelled.

This experience is not about 9/11, it’s about the future of this great city and reclaiming these unparalleled views.” Those horrendous events are recalled in painfully raw detail in the 9/11 museum and memorial at Ground Zero, while the names of the nearly 3,000 dead are etched around the reflecting pools that now occupy the footprints of the destroyed towers. Visitors stepping into the elevators, called Sky Pods, for the 60-second ride to the top will be enveloped in a virtual Manhattan skyline as it evolved over 500 years. But visitors to the observatory encounter only the most fleeting reminder of 9/11 in an image that will pass in barely a blink of the eye, as they ride in lifts that take just 47 seconds to complete the 1,250 ft ascent at speeds comparable Usain Bolt’s world-record sprints.

But this building was put up to suggest to the world that we’re moving forward.” Almost 400,000 tickets have already been booked – just a fraction of what they hope to sell over the coming months. The deck, operated by New York-based Legends Hospitality LLC, will produce income for the skyscraper, whose offices remain about 36 percent unleased. “We expect it to be an attraction that people pursue on their first day in New York,” said Dave Checketts, Legends’ chairman and chief executive officer. “We expect over half of the visitors to be from outside this country. And in another sign of changing times, the observatory is almost devoid of references to the horrors of 9/11, its operators preferring to focus on the future via new digital technology rather than dwell on the recent past.

Instead of a head-spinning and possibly stomach-churning view of the city from the elevators, visitors – paying $32 (£21) for the experience – are treated to a multimedia visual display of 500 years of Manhattan history, from its days as a forested island to today’s urban jungle of skyscrapers and canyons. And we expect it will generate significant enough revenue to reward us for our investment.” Legends rents the space from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which built and owns the tower, and the Durst Organization, the agency’s equity partner. The observatory’s revenue will be “almost totally” derived from ticket sales — standard adult admission is $32 a person, $15 more if you want a tablet computer to help orient you — but there will also be weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, graduation parties “and even a board meeting of a multinational company,” Checketts said. Leaving the 102nd-floor viewing area, visitors will be directed to the 100th-floor main observatory space, a 360-degree wall of windows over the glories of the world’s greatest city. Those who were lost that day will never be forgotten, but this observatory is a fist-bump to the courage and resilience of this city and a tribute to those who put this building back up.” Asked about what would happen if the building was attacked again, he said: “I do not want to talk about that.

The recovery of Lower Manhattan has been slow and painful, mired by bickering over architectural style and political posturing, not to mention real estate deal-making at a site that is both the most symbolic and most lucrative in America. But I can tell you that this is a very secure structure, designed to withstand all sorts of things.” The lifts (or “sky pods”) themselves are so smooth that the ascent is barely noticeable, bar the popping of ears for some. Some had contended that it was inappropriate ever to build back on what was now hallowed ground; others argued about what could and should replace the iconic towers. On a clear sunny day this week, the awe-inspiring panoramic view stretched from the harbour to the south, taking in the Statue of Liberty and the Staten Island ferries churning the waters; west across the new skyscrapers of Jersey City, built by companies that fled the city after 9/11; north towards the thick concrete sprawl of Manhattan, with the landmark pinnacles of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings; and east to the burgeoning new neighbourhoods of Brooklyn.

The result is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, its soaring antenna lifting the height to the historically symbolic 1,776 ft, to mark the year of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. “I can’t tell you how exciting it is to work with this view each day,” said Mr Robinson, a trainer with the technology company that has equipped the observatory. “It does feel that New York is truly back and whole again.” Tishman Speyer, which controls Rockefeller Center, said through spokeswoman Suzi Halpin that it sends “a warm welcome to One World Observatory.” The closely held company declined to provide financial data for Top of the Rock, which has about 3 million visitors a year, she said.

Even completing the memorial to the 9/11 victims in time for the 10th anniversary in 2011 required an intervention by Michael Bloomberg, the then mayor.

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Finding the ‘Joy’ in Jennifer Lawrence

20 Jan 2016 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Joy’ review: Jennifer Lawrence cleans up in enjoyable biopic.

Writer-director David O. Their latest collaboration — following in the footsteps of Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle — is a biographical picture about the life and times of Joy Mangano.Jennifer Lawrence groans when she’s asked about singing the classic Nancy and Frank Sinatra duet Something Stupid with co-star Edgar Ramirez in her new film Joy. “David [O Russell, the movie’s director] texted me last night to ask if he could put it on the soundtrack and this is what I texted him back,” the actor says as she digs around for her mobile phone and reads out her response verbatim. “‘David, no!!!’ and it is three exclamation marks.In a very abbreviated nutshell, that actually happened to Joy Mangano, 59, the fabulously successful Long Island entrepreneur/inventor and HSN pitchwoman whose rags-to-riches journey started with the invention of a mop.

Russell has made three kinds of movies: offbeat romances (“Flirting With Disaster”), surreal comedies (“I Heart Huckabees”) and dramas about dysfunctional yet appealing families (“The Fighter”). In real life, Mangano is the Long Island housewife and inventor who became famous and eventually rich after bouts of near-bankruptcy, by creating and marketing her Miracle Mop. Out Boxing Day in Australia, the film stars Jennifer Lawrence in the fictionalised life story of Joy Mangano, a single mum from Long Island who made her fortune selling a mop. On Christmas Day, “Joy,” a movie inspired by her struggles as a divorced, single mother turned mogul by way of that mop, will open at movie theaters across America.

This was before she hooked up with the giant Home Shopping Network, becoming their most effective pitch person and eventually selling her parent company, Ingenious Designs, to HSN. Gross, I can’t listen to it; I have to go to bed.’ And I said yes, but it’s a groaning, reluctant yes.” It’s the kind of unfiltered moment you come to expect when interviewing Lawrence, who may now be one of the most famous actors on the planet but still blurts out whatever she’s thinking with such self-deprecating charm it’s impossible not to be, well, charmed.

Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as Miracle Mop inventor and QVC pitchwoman Joy Mangano glues the movie together, but it threatens to unravel at any time. Lawrence, 25, looks genuinely surprised when complimented about how unchanged she seems from our earlier interviews before the fame and Oscars. “But there would be no reason to change,” she says with a shrug. “I just have a job and I love my job. In the film, Lawrence’s Mangano is a colourful character, a single mom with a unique relationship and friendship with her ex-husband, and an enterprising woman who parlays her creativity into an incredibly successful business.

Mom (Virginia Madsen) stays in her bedroom and watches soap operas, until she falls for a Haitian plumber (Jimmy Jean-Louis) who fixes a hole in her bedroom floor. She landed minor roles on TV shows such as Monk, Cold Case and Medium before her 2010 indie film Winter’s Bone led to her becoming the second youngest best actress Oscar nominee in history. This is true even when the film tilts off its rocker with a bit of Russell-esque madness built into the screenplay, and with the director failing to always keep the energy going. That resulted in not only a string of critically acclaimed films, an Academy Award and another Oscar nomination, but also her very own mega-franchise as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.

Joy’s grandma (endearing Diane Ladd) delivers messages of empowerment and smooths over constant fights, but she’s opposed by the money-grubbing rich woman (Isabella Rossellini) who dates Joy’s dad and sends negative messages about her. Lawrence’s endearing habit of speaking her mind resulted in a controversial essay she penned on Lena Dunham’s website about her discovery during the Sony hacks that she was being paid less “than the lucky people with dicks” on her recent films, including American Hustle. “I completely understand when people say actors shouldn’t talk about politics and things they don’t know about, but this was my gender at stake and it was being threatened with unfairness and I thought, ‘What is the point of having this voice if it’s not to speak out for myself and for everyone else who can’t?’,” she says unapologetically.

Upon learning that Lawrence would be playing her mom, Miranne says, “I braced myself so I wouldn’t fall on the floor.” As for Mangano, she says Lawrence playing her “made me feel old, number one. Lawrence hangs out with a posse of celebrity girlfriends, including Amy Schumer and singer Adele, but the reason is simple. “The friendship gets expedited a lot when you meet someone you know beyond a shadow of a doubt has no agenda,” she says. Draining her savings and taking out loans, she started off small, selling her mops to local boat owners. “She persuaded QVC to take a thousand, but sales were poor and they tried to send them back,” says Mason. “She suggested letting her demonstrate it herself, and the channel agreed.” Sales skyrocketed and Mangano’s career as a QVC pitch woman was launched. That’s so amazing there aren’t even words.” Mangano and her three children didn’t view “Joy” until the Dec. 13 premiere in Manhattan, though a family outing to see “Trainwreck” included a trailer.

This is, after all, the self-confessed reality-show junkie who confessed in a recent Vogue interview that on the night of her 25th birthday party, friends surprised her with a visit from reality queen Kris Jenner, who presented her with a cake inscribed, ‘Happy Birthday, you piece of shit!’ The only time she seems tongue-tied is when asked about her relationship status, after a four-year stint with X-Men: First Class co-star Nicholas Hoult and a year with Coldplay singer Chris Martin before their breakup earlier this year. “Next!” Lawrence says in a no-nonsense voice, pausing as she decides if she’ll continue that thought. For one thing, Mangano’s childhood is not that interesting for a film, despite some flashbacks to her as a youngster (when she is played by 10-year-old Isabella Cramp, who does actually look like we imagine Lawrence could have at the same age). A satire on the acquisitiveness of the public? (Here, QVC foists unnecessary things on gullible viewers who could better save their money.) Russell doesn’t seem to know. And, of course, the grave ending would be a lie: Mangano is very much alive at the age of 59, still inventing, still pitching products, still a superstar of the American home shopping universe. There’s the Clothes It All luggage system, essentially a rolling suitcase with a removable garment bag, and the Super Chic vacuum, which releases fragrance into the air.

If I even casually say something to a reporter, that quote haunts me for the rest of my life,” she says, “so I am never, ever, ever talking about boys again!” I don’t think any of us brought enough tissues!” A good portion of the film was shot last winter in Boston, and though the always-busy Mangano was twice scheduled to visit the set, snowstorms made travel impossible. He has mixed genres successfully before, as in the anti-war comedy-drama “Three Kings,” but the blender often grinds to a halt in “Joy.” Just as we’re getting used to the realism of Mangano’s fight for respect, Russell photographs Rossellini as if she were a gargoyle.

One of her creations, the thin and velvet-covered Huggable Hanger, remains a bestseller for HSN, at more than 300 million sold, and was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. Yet in “Silver Linings Playbook,” Cooper, De Niro and Russell all supported her with fine work; here they lay back and make the movie a one-ring circus where she has to be acrobat, bareback rider and clown.

He had a presence all of his own.” At one point, Miranne says, “Jennifer grabbed Joy’s hand and said to David, ‘Look at the nails, a French manicure.’ ” (That manicure is a Mangano signature.) Lawrence revealed that in studying for her part as Joy, she watched recordings of the inventor’s early pitches on HSN, including ones for “Huggable Hangers” and found her so compelling that she wanted to buy them on the spot. There is something special when creative people get together.” Mangano’s take on Lawrence? “She’s beyond her years, so brilliant, hysterical and so talented.

Critically, Russell’s sense of wonder and beauty turns elegiac moments — especially when Joy Mangano becomes fully realized as a woman and as a business executive — into scenes of great beauty. Lawrence recently said on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” that the movie was “half Joy Mangano’s story and half [Russell’s] imagination and other powerful, strong women who inspired him.” The director mined much of his Mangano material by phone.

The cast includes Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Susan Lucci (in a mock TV soap opera that gives Joy some of its silliness) and even Melissa Rivers as her late mother Joan Rivers. There’s no situation Joy cannot overcome or circumvent.” At a Newsday photo shoot at Mangano’s luxurious but serene 42,000-square-foot mansion on 11 acres in St. As for parting advice for the ambitious? “If this movie inspires even just one more person to believe in themselves and to go after their dreams, then it’s made a very special impact in this world.

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