But the dispute is also a personal duel between two proud men, both self-made millionaires. Their face-off reflects a growing divide between longtime Miami Beach residents like Friedman, and newcomers like Rodriguez, many of whom are out to flip their homes for a quick payday. The Bay Road brawl pits two visions of the island against one another: profits versus privacy, partying versus peace and quiet.

"I don't want to be a torchbearer," says Friedman, whose thinning gray hair and beard stubble make him look like an aging Alan Alda. "I'm just some schmuck from Brooklyn who came over from Hungary. But we are fighting for our lifestyle here."

Irwin Friedman can be forgiven for clinging to his peace. He was born in the Hungarian city of Debrecen in 1943 as World War II was tearing the continent apart. His parents owned a dressmaking store, but when Nazis invaded in 1944, they seized the shop and began hunting down the city's Jews.

Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson on the set of Pain & Gain.
Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson on the set of Pain & Gain.

The Friedmans fled to the countryside, where for more than a year, Irwin, his mother, and his older sister hid in a friend's hayloft. His father crept out after dark to scrounge for food and buy supplies.

One night, he didn't come back. Nazis had caught him and thrown him into a forced labor camp, usually a layover on the way to the gas chambers in Auschwitz or Birkenau. But Irwin's father devised a plan. He worked feverishly for two days to ingratiate himself with his guards. Then he broke his glasses and begged to get them fixed. When two guards took him to the town optometrist, he pulled out money hidden in his boot and bought them a bottle of slivovitz. "By the time he came out of the store 22 minutes later, both of them were dead drunk," Friedman says. Many of Irwin's aunts and uncles had already been murdered, "but my father came back to us."

When the war ended, Irwin's family settled on Manhattan's Lower East Side. His father worked in a shoe factory while teaching himself to make slipcovers and drapes. After years of working nights and weekends, he opened his own shop. Then another. And another.

The family moved to Brooklyn, where Friedman followed in his father's entrepreneurial footsteps. He found work selling plastics, and he married Nora Berkovits, a pretty Jewish American, in 1965. After they honeymooned in Miami Beach, Irwin vowed, "One day we're going to move here." Nora just laughed.

But Friedman worked his way from manager to general manager to vice president. In 1985, he left to found Delta Plastics Corporation. When Bank of America Capital Investors bought the firm 14 years later, Friedman was set for life. He bought his dream home on North Bay Road in 2002. "My pipe dream came true," he boasts.

For nearly a decade, the Friedmans lived happily in the two-story, 6,000-square-foot house. Inside his study, Friedman slumps in an oversize leather chair and stares at his family tree, written in Hebrew, on the wall.

"My mother-in-law had the numbers on her arm," he says of his family's fortune in life. "The people who came through that sort of thing and were even seminormal are remarkable. I'm just happy to be here."

Then his mood changes. "But now my sandbox is getting turned over," he says. "I don't care about the movie industry. I don't care about anybody. I just care about protecting my family."

Friedman's neighborhood nightmare began as soon as Rodriguez moved in next door in late 2011. First there was the Art Basel party. Then, a week later, an even bigger gala, sponsored by Tiffany & Co. Within a month, Rodriguez had begun renting his home out for filming. For six days in December, crews arrived at 7 a.m. to shoot a Conde Nast spread and two other ads. For 12 hours a day, they blocked the street and made a ruckus.

The next month, there were five more days of filming. By February, the number had risen to seven. On February 16, Friedman was lounging by his pool when music again began blaring. When he went upstairs to see what was going on, he spotted a small man in a hat barking directions at scantily clad women. It was Transformers director Michael Bay shooting a Victoria's Secret commercial.

Finally, Nora Friedman snapped. She raced upstairs, placed a radio on an open window sill, started blaring music back at Bay, and shouted, "Let's see how they like it!"

"How would you like to live in a home, pay a zillion dollars in property taxes, and have an MGM studio next door to you?" Friedman says. "This was clearly a commercial enterprise."

The camera crews kept coming, stuffing Friedman's mailbox full of film notices. The only time he ever saw Rodriguez was when Friedman and his wife woke up at 4 a.m. to the sounds of the slugger and several bikini-clad women partying in his pool.

When Friedman called his lawyer, he was stunned to learn that the constant filming was entirely legal. Miami Beach allows up to 28 days of filming per month and 120 days per year. "This is absurd," Friedman told his attorney. "Pretty soon it's going to be like living next to Times Square."

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help

Key Biscayne has a film permit ordinance.  Bottom line is these are residential neighborhoods - not film studios or commercial districts.  Building perrmits cost thousands of dollars and take all sorts of red-tape.  Yet studios show up and city staff are so eager to accommodate and give away the rights of the neighborhood to peace, quiet, and residential character.  So much for zoning. 


Oh the melancholy of the rich. Sigh, Sob Sob....



Constanza Maute
Constanza Maute

It's insane: new regulations could strangle our industry

Juan R. Pollo
Juan R. Pollo

He was never in a concentration camp. Are you saying that all Jews that survived WW II are Holocaust survivors?


What Film Renaissance? Obviously this notion is one only believed in by people's whose only knowledge and experience with the film industry is buying movie tickets.  This problem has long been in the making, and the singular reason is the greed by a handful of folks in the film industry who believe that they have a special entitlement to do whatever they want because "it's the film business."


Back in the 80's when Vice first started filming, a lot of folks thought it was "cool" to have a film crew wake them up at 6 in the morning, park trucks on their swale and driveways, and generally create bedlam for a day or 2.


Those days are over, and unfortunately there are still folks in the industry who believe that they should continue to behave like that because it's easier for them to continue to use the same properties - as attractive as they might be - instead of going out and finding other locations..


I attended the first meeting, and made a suggestion that Miami Beach, like cities like New York, need to establish hot zones, where specific houses, businesses or even neighborhood that have been subjected to repeated, and often daily use, need to be put on this hot list that would mean that these locations couldn't be used for a period of time to let the neighbors cool down from the constant irritation of film crews in their neighborhoods.


The Mayor thought my idea was the best suggestion made, and I still think that this is one, although not the only, suggestion that might relieve the pressure that is caused by this continued use of a handfull of houses.


As to A-Rod's house specifically, the guy who represented him at the meeting, when a decision was made by the Mayor and Commissioners to continue to think this through, couldn't wait to tell everyone in the room that that meant that the A-Rod house was still available for filming, and for anyone who was interested to call him.


This was an asshole thing for this guy to have done, and it was roundly booed by many film folk in the room.


I've been in the film business for close to 30 years, and used houses on Miami Beach and all over the county, and after all that time, if I had a neighbor who thought that he could turn his house into a film studio, either to make money, or to try and get laid, I too would be pissed, and be chewing on the City Commission to put a stop to it!


Al Crespo


@al004 ... Exactly  Al.  Now translate that same dynamic to gov't surveillance and how they 'take over' a community. 

Miami Concert Tickets