Players celebrates ‘Founder’s Day’

A member of The Players Club looks at the Booth statue after laying a wreath on the side. (Photo by Michael Gerbino)

A member of The Players Club looks at the Booth statue after laying a wreath on the side. (Photo by Michael Gerbino)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Members of the Players got a unique opportunity on Monday night when Gramercy Park opened its gates for the annual celebration of Edwin Booth’s birthday. The occasion, known as Founder’s Day because of Booth’s role in establishing the club, is one of the park’s oldest traditions and is one of the rare times of year when park-goers are allowed inside after dark.

The celebration for the actor’s 183rd birthday started inside the Players along Gramercy Park, with readings from members about Booth and his contribution to the arts. A group of members also performed a piece of a musical they’ve been working on about Booth’s life. The musical, called “Edwin, The Story of Edwin Booth,” debuted off-Broadway this summer.

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TV’s ‘Gotham’ shoots at The Players

A scene was filmed at the historic club from March 9-11. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

A scene was filmed at the historic club from March 9-11. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

“Gotham,” the Fox network crime television drama based on some of DC Comics’ Batman characters, looked to Gramercy Park for one of its recent filming locations this week. The Players club was closed from March 9 to 11 so the show could film inside away from the public’s prying eyes. Brian Jones, director of operations at The Players, said that the show even had a privacy clause in its contract to prevent any outside photography.

While The Players is no stranger to film shoots, Jones said that the club has been more involved with Hollywood lately, although he noted that it’s going to take a breather once “Gotham” wraps up.

“I love my neighbors and don’t want to upset them, so we don’t do back-to-back shoots because (the film crews) take up the entire block,” Jones said.

Trailers for the show lined the streets surrounding the club as well, including on Park Avenue South and Irving Place. Jones noted that the club frequently gets calls about filming for television and movies, and productions that have filmed there in the past include “Boardwalk Empire,” for a scene in Sardi’s restaurant (actually The Players club), and “The Blacklist.”

Jones said that the club has become more involved in photography shoots as well, with O Magazine and Allure having shoots there recently. He noted that this will probably continue while the club’s on hiatus from being a film set because set up for magazines is much less involved and is less disruptive to the community.

Players temporarily closes bar due to permit issue

The Players on Gramercy Park South (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The Players on Gramercy Park South (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

The Players club, which reopened with a skimmed down skeleton crew in September after its usual summer hiatus, unexpectedly faced another roadblock to financial recovery last week.

The club had apparently neglected to renew a permit to serve food, and it expired on July 1. The permit was tied into its ability to keep its bar open. As a result, from Thursday to Monday, there was no bar service. The club, since September, hasn’t been serving food except during events.

By Tuesday morning, however, club president Arthur Makar said the permit issue had been resolved and members were being notified that the bar would reopen in the evening.

“With all of the turnover at the staff level, the expiration date was missed,” Makar explained to Town & Village. “It shouldn’t have happened but it did.”

The general manager of the club at that time was let go in September, and a couple of employees were also fired at that time, including someone who’d been hired to book events.

The club is, however, scheduled to hold an event on Tuesday night.

There’s currently still no general manager at The Players though there is now an operations manager.

A club member, who asked to remain anonymous, told T&V he was glad to see that “there’s a happy ending” to the permit lapse, but was still concerned that it happened.

“For the bar to be closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday, it’s just another kick in the pants,” he said. “It gives the impression that things are falling apart. It’s another blot The Players doesn’t need at this time.”

In September, Makar said the club was hoping to bring back regular food service, having recently upped its health department score from a C to an A. However, the club was, and is still, in the midst of digging its way out of a $3.5 million financial hole.