- Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 November 2013 06:30
- Written by Lupe Haas
In MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS, New York City is featured prominently and Tavern on the Green plays a major role. In the film Jim Carrey portrays a real estate developer who specializes in getting hard to obtain properties. His firm has given him the task of buying Tavern on the Green from Mrs. Van Gundy played by Angela Lansbury.
In a press conference with MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS cast and crew in Beverly Hills, director Mark Waters took some of the credit. In MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS, New York City is like another character and producer John Davis took great pains to have the film shot on location including filming on some of Donald Trump's properties. That’s how Donald Trump got involved, according to the filmmakers. Donald Trump had to sign off on the script before they could proceed. After reading the script and the reference to Tavern on the Green, Trump realized what a shame it would be to have this historical building torn down and liked the idea of refurbishing it as they did in the movie. Considering the family comedy pokes fun at Mr. Trump several times, it's a surprise the Celebrity Apprentice boss signed off on the movie.
According to a New York Times article in January, Donald Trump told the newspaper he would spend $20 million out of his own pocket to renovate Tavern on the Green, and make it the "highest grossing restaurant on the planet." The setback was a powerful union representing 400 workers from the famed restaurant but Donald Trump said they had come to an agreement to move forward with reviving the landmark site in Central Park. The LeRoy family, the previous owners, filed for bankruptcy last year.
During the press conference, Mark Waters brought Donald Trump's plans for Tavern on the Green to everyone’s attention. The cast was both surprised and relieved. Angela Lansbury was especially pleased. “The Tavern on the Green was a very important social venue for all of us in show business, because we had some of our greatest opening night parties there. In fact when we opened A Little Night Music, we had our party there. It was one of the last parties that was given before the place was closed.”
In addition to Tavern on the Green, Mr. Popper’s Penguins filmed at other historical locations including Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1959 Guggenheim Museum and the Flatiron Building constructed in 1902. But of all of the wonderful New York City locations one of Jim Carrey’s favorite days was filming at Wollman Ice Skating Rink. Jim Carrey remembers, “They would have to mop me down at the rink because I’m Canadian, I’d get the skates on and good-bye, I’m not filming anymore, I’m now fantasizing about the Stanley Cup and shooting pucks against the boards.” Carla Gugino adds, “It was an all night shoot that was really a magical night.”
When director Mark Waters convinced Angela Lansbury to do the film he didn’t tell her that her first three days would be filming from 7:00 at night until 7:00 in the morning. Angela Lansbury chimes in, “No, they didn’t tell me that.” But the cast and crew agree that filming in New York made the experience even more special. Jim Carrey adds, “The Guggenheim was odd because I felt like I was falling down hill the whole time.” But when asked what his favorite location was Jim admits that it was Wollman Ice Skating Rink, “When I put a skate on the ice I’m free from the world and I have no problems at all. I’m a bird.” And the panel calls out in unison, “You’re a penguin!” And that made everyone to smile.
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