Burn Notice Eviction Not Up for Public Debate, Miami City Commissioners Say

See Burn Notice: City Commissioners Plan to Evict Production from Coconut Grove.

Miami residents and TV celebrities alike made their way to Miami City Hall yesterday afternoon, curious to see what fate lies in store for the locally produced TV series, Burn Notice. The show has called the Coconut Grove Convention Center its home for the last six seasons.

The show's lease is up in October, and plans to renew it have been a heated subject of debate. TVM Productions, the show's production company, has asked to renew its contract with the city for its seventh and final season if it gets picked up. But city commissioners want the show to relocate in order to move forward with plans to transform the waterfront property into a park that was promised to Coconut Grove residents years in the making.

The show's producer Terry Miller and actress Gabrielle Anwar, who plays titular character Fiona and espionage love interest to Michael, were among the faces that packed the conference hall.

Supporters of the show turned out to support keeping Burn Notice in Coconut Grove, but Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff dominated the discussion. "I don't think there's anybody up here that has worked harder to get a film industry in Miami than me," Sarnoff said, addressing the negative response he received for his decisions regarding Burn Notice's eviction.

"At 34 meetings...the biggest public participation of anything that occurred here in City Hall, we decided to have a park there...The High Line in New York is the number one tourist attraction in New York, so somebody that doesn't think parks bring any kind of meaningful dollars to the city I think would be wrong," Sarnoff said.

Sarnoff cited no statistics to prove that the High Line park is more profitable or more popular than other New York City attractions, and New Times' research found no evidence to support that claim.

After explaining the benefits of the plan to build a park, for which the city has budgeted $1.8 million, Sarnoff addressed Burn Notice producer Miller directly.

"Don't get up at the mic because I'm not going to entertain a discussion. You simply needed to see me," Sarnoff told Miller, stating the matter was one to be resolved between the commissioners and the producers. Sarnoff also said that the city was willing to work out a solution, but offered no further details. 

"Having a park, I think we can all agree, is a very good objective. Having Burn Notice in Miami, I think we can all agree, is a very good objective. Sometimes, unfortunately, two good objectives come into conflict and it's very difficult to reconcile," Chairman Francis Suarez added. Suarez also stated that the issue of Burn Notice's eviction was not meant to be decided in a public hearing.

Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones briefly alluded to talks about transitioning the show into the Wynwood area, in venues like the Entertainment Complex the city has in the works, concluding the issue.

However, most in attendance felt unsettled by the lack of conflict resolution.

"Where they want us to move in Broward, Terry [Miller]'s already looked at it and it won't work. There's talk that we might be moved to Hollywood, California, or possibly Louisiana that has great filming centers and is film friendly," a Burn Notice crew member said after the meeting adjourned.

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