WXXI Local Stories
Fri May 29, 2009
Hollywood Comes to Rochester
By Bud Lowell
Rochester, NY – Some big names from Hollywood and from the world of sports are betting that Rochester can be the home of a major new TV production company.
They're Peter and Bobby Farrelly -- the brothers who write and direct films like "There's Something About Mary" -- and Hall of Fame Buffalo Bills Quarterback Jim Kelly. All three have teamed with CGI Communications, which is a commercial TV production house with offices in downtown Rochester.
Bob Bartosiewicz is Chief Executive Officer of CGI. He says the new company is Fifth Year Productions. It's goal is to develop a first-class television production house that will produce half-hour scripted TV series for television and the internet. He says it will work with everyone from film students trying to break into the business to Hollywood A-Listers.
Two of those A-Listers -- the Farrelly Brothers -- have put their money along with Jim Kelly's into Fifth Year. They're hoping to create a new model for developing and producing new TV comedies and dramas. They would be shot by producers around the country -- but edited and marketed from Rochester.
Peter Farrelly says its no more far-fetched than Motown Records starting in Detroit. He says that happened because Detroit had producer Barry Gordy, while Rochester has Bob Bartosiewicz, who is trying to something similar for the Flower City.
Bobby Farrelly says the old model of networks and studios developing scripted TV series is fading. They say most of the exciting, new TV content today appears on the Internet. He says Fifth Year will connect with the talent doing that work, from film students to Emmy winning writers. Both brothers say this is an ambitious project, but they believe it can be done.
Fifth Year has purchased four floors of the Granite Building on East Main Street, and plans to develop a full television production studio there. That means CGI and Fifth Year together own nine of the 12 floors.
Bartosiewicz wouldn't specify how much money the partners are investing, except to say it's "in the millions."
Mayor Robert Duffy says they're getting a two-point-one million dollar loan from the city that converts to a grant if the company meets its job creation targets.
CGI has already brought 250 employees to Main Street. Bartosiewicz says Fifth Year Productions will eventually add about a hundred more, with the first ten starting on Monday.
Jim Kelly -- who met the Farrelly Brothers when they directed him in a Miller Beer commercial -- called the studio a "visionary project." He said he's glad to help bring some excitement to western New York and credited Bartosiewicz and Mayor Duffy with convincing the partners to base their company in Rochester.