downtownexpress.com
Volume 19 Issue 41 | Feb. 23 - March 1, 2007

Under Cover

Fashion week faux pas
Oh no, they didn’t. The architects for 146 Duane St. got less than rave reviews from the C.B. 1 Landmarks Committee after presenting their proposed plans to renovate the Tribeca South Historic District building’s façade.
“It’s like wearing couture clothes with J.C. Penney shoes,” said committee member Marc Donnenfeld, referring to the design team’s plan to put aluminum panels along the base of the storefront.

The remark was apropos given that the Feb. 8 meeting took place smack in the middle of Fashion Week. A design team representative argued that the aluminum panels were necessary to pacify the Landmarks Preservation Commission (which had already rejected glass) and to stand up to the punishment of strollers arriving at the building’s Jewish Community Project preschool. The committee, however, asked 146 Duane to use a more “historically appropriate” paneling material such as wood — landmarks speak for going retro.

The committee members also asked that the building dispense with two of their least favorite historic district faux pas — frosted glass and roller shutters — and urged the building owners to restore a historic clock on the building’s exterior. With those conditions attached, the committee voted 6 to 4 to approve the renovation plan.

T.V. justice for Shelly
Just three and a half months after her murder, actress Adrienne Shelly has been immortalized in the pantheon of Law & Order plotlines.

Famous for its “ripped from the headlines” stories, Law & Order has previously based episodes around true New York-area crime tales like the Jersey City teenager who in 2005 attempted to kill her baby because of an incestuous relationship with her father and the 1991 Brooklyn traffic accident in which a Jewish man struck and killed a black boy, inciting racial unrest in Crown Heights. On Friday, the long-running NBC drama debuted an episode inspired by the Shelly murder.

The episode began with details that matched-up closely with the police account of the real-life Nov. 1 murder. In the show, an independent film actress with an up-and-coming career as a director is found hanged in her Downtown office apartment. Initially thought to be a suicide, the crime is ruled a murder when the medical examiner discovers head trauma. The perpetrator, thinking he had killed the actress by striking her, hanged her to make it look like a suicide. Suspicion eventually falls on a young construction worker, an illegal immigrant who had argued with the actress (named Erin) over the construction practices in the building.

From there, however, the episode departs from the reported facts to deliver L&O’s trademark plot twists. Though struck by the immigrant worker, the fictional Erin turns out to have been hanged by the worker’s greedy contractor boss, who wanted to keep the actress quiet so he could continue to use underpaid, undocumented workers. As always, the L&O justice was 60-minutes swift, but morally ambiguous (in this case, the lawyers forced the deportation of several immigrant workers to compel their young suspect to testify).

Unlike many of L&O’s fictional victims, actress Erin does not turn out to have any secret vices or vendettas. Calling Shelly a “pure victim,” the show’s producers told the New York Times that they chose to honor Shelly’s memory by making her fictional counterpart equally innocent.

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