Nine months after going public with his neighborly feud, Irwin Friedman is no longer seen as a lone permit-opposer venting his personal frustrations.

In fact, his proposal to limit Beach filming has the backing of residents Buchanan and Valdesuso, as well as hundreds of other homeowners. His larger message — that neighborhoods should push back against the TV crews creeping in like melaleuca — is catching on. When the Kardashian sisters tried to find a Miami Beach pad for their reality show, three neighborhoods rejected them. (Eventually, North Miami took them in).

But the clearest sign of how seriously Friedman's ideas are being taken is the fierce opposition they've sparked. After decrying any changes to permit rules, the movie industry has since relented to limiting filming to ten days per month or 75 days per year.

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

Orosz, the producer, says that's more than enough. "That's a 60 percent reduction," he says. "Is that really a compromise? I think the film industry is being incredibly giving."

Friedman is holding fast, though, insisting on a maximum of just five per month. The island's $100-million-a-year film industry hangs in the balance.

"The industry has said they must have a minimum of ten days," Commissioner Libbin says. "If it's one day less, they say they are packing up and moving to Fort Lauderdale."

Orosz says Friedman is stoking the flames on a nonissue. "One or two complaints per year should not start a lot of knee-jerk reactions," he says. "The city probably gets more complaints about local tree-trimming services than about us." He says that in addition to undercutting the local economy, further restrictions will hurt industry employees, many of whom live in Miami Beach. "They are also residents, and now they are concerned for their well-being."

Friedman insists he's no zealot set on scuppering movie studios' success. Rather, he says regulation and compromise are the cost of doing business in a city like Miami Beach.

"They say we are trying to ruin the industry, but it's not true," he says. "Why five days? Because I'm a realist. The city needs the money; I respect that. Celebrities raise property values; I get that too. But when they infringe on my lifestyle and ruin the peace and quiet and beauty I came here for, all because they want to make money, there's a problem. The city is like a heroin addict. It's not going to take the needle out of its arm unless we make it."

There are other proposals to quell the fight. Libbin, for one, has offered a seven-day compromise. So far, neither Friedman nor the movie industry has accepted it.

The commissioner has also put forth a more radical idea: a list that residents can sign to block their neighbors from filming. Friedman loves the idea, and on San Marino Island, Buchanan, Valdesuso, and other neighbors say they would sign up.

But this suggestion has movie executives crapping a celluloid brick. "They are afraid that everyone will run out and put their name on the list and it will kill the industry," Libbin admits. Orosz says such a list "sends the wrong message."

Other ideas are simpler still — but even less likely to gain traction. Levey, who lives next to Villa Vecchia, says the only solution is compensation for neighbors.

"What about the homeowners?" he asks. "Real estate taxes are so high here — why should I have to put up with this nonsense? [Renters] must be making $15,000 to $20,000 a day while the rest of us are waiting to get into our driveways."

When it comes to compensation, Levey claims Miami Beach's young movie industry lags behind places like Hollywood. "We haven't risen to that level yet," he says. In fact, compensating neighbors is "very frequent" in Los Angeles, says Philip Sokoloski of FilmL.A., that city's nonprofit film office.

Miami Beach's Neighborhood and Community Affairs Committee is set to discuss the film permit fight next week. A full committee vote could happen by the end of the year.

By then, however, Friedman's flap with A-Rod might be over. Less than a year after moving in, Rodriguez recently put his house up for sale for $38 million. If it sells at that price, the slumping slugger will reap a $12 million profit. Friedman isn't surprised.

"That's not Alex's house next door," he says. "It's his real estate. He's got real estate in New York and all over the place. It was built to be a business. And now that a famous person lived there, it's worth even more."

Friedman's fight could continue anyway. He warns he's ready to sue the city if commissioners don't clamp down on the movie industry. Besides, he has no idea who will buy A-Rod's house or if the new owner will pimp the place out for more filming.

"I don't want to have a big mouth about this. I just want to live in peace," Friedman says. "I moved here to live in paradise. I don't want Tarzans swinging from the goddamn trees."

« Previous 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