The British Invasion: New Yorkers Swarm Opening Day Extravaganza in the Race to the Topshop

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“The British are coming!” fashionistas chanted for months after London-based fast fashion retailer Topshop announced its first US store would open in New York.

Well, they’ve arrived.

Granted, it took them a while to get here: Topshop initially entered the American market by introducing only select pieces from its line at Barneys New York, and then delayed the opening of its first full-scale stateside flagship from Fall 2008 to April 2, 2009.  But judging from the lines that wrapped around the block at Broadway and Broome St. in Soho today (Recession?  What recession?), demand and expectations ran high – and many shoppers would probably agree that it was well worth the wait.

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Celebrities like Kate Moss, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Michelle Trachtenberg, and DJ Mark Ronson (yes, that’s the brother of Lindsay Lohan’s companion/girlfriend/pubilicity stunt/whatever, Samanatha Ronson) were on hand to celebrate the opening of the 40,000 square foot flagship, which stands at more than four stories and includes both the Topshop (women’s apparel and accessories) and Topman lines.

For those unfamiliar with Topshop, the brand falls somewhere between H&M and Banana Republic in style and price: some pieces are  irresistibly cute and inexpensive (like colorful men’s V-neck tees and short-sleeve shirts, two for $20), while others appeal to a more “aspirational” customer (take a $140 seersucker blazer).  The women’s pieces were particularly fashion-forward, adventurous, and stunning (the Kate Moss collection’s sparkly sequined dresses and dangerously spiked heels could only be described accurately as “fierce”).  But many of the men’s urban hipster pieces seemed lackluster, busy (gingham flannel shirt with striped tie?), and we’ve-seen-this-before (high-top shoes).  Overall though, most of the store made a strong showing at a reasonable price.

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Many of the day’s customers were enticed by gift cards (ranging from $5 to $500 and redeemable only on April 2) that had been handed out from Topshop vans throughout the city earlier this week.  Additional giftcards (and waterbottles – how thoughtful!) were handed out to shoppers waiting in line.

Topshop’s Soho neighbor, Madewell (the two stores are separated only by the upcoming J. Crew men’s store) also benefited from today’s crowds.  In addition to offering free doughnuts, Madewell created a window display in honor (or should we say, honour?) of the occasion: “A Royal Welcome to Our New Neighbour” and “All Hail the Jean.”  It’s nice to see some friendly retail/international relations instead of the usual cutthroat competition.

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Though New York remains the only Topshop outpost in the States for now, the success of today’s opening despite the suffering economy may be an indicator of the potential for nationwide expansion.  A British takeover of America has never sounded so lovely.

The Magic is Back: “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” with Nicolas Cage Returns to Washington Square Park and NYU

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Conveniently for those NYU students who missed it over spring break, the cast and crew of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” returned to Washington Square Park today to film new scenes.  This time, however, the public was afforded an actual Nicolas Cage sighting (if you could recognize him in a long brown trench coat, long hair, and sorcerer’s cap).

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Actor Jay Baruchel could also be seen on set.  The scene itself featured several extras walking along pathways in the park, with Cage and Baruchel among them.  The cast and crew were lucky to be working on a beautiful 65-degree day, though unfortunately for everyone else (who wasn’t interested in star gazing), the filming closed off a large section on the east side of the park.

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Paul Dano from “Little Miss Sunshine” Restores Law & Order at NYU

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It’s been a little over one week since “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and already Washington Square Park is being taken over by another film crew.

The night of Monday, March 30, signs were posted on streetlamps indicating that the area around Washington Square West would be used to film for Law & Order: Criminal Intent.  In case you forgot which of the seemingly countless Law & Order spinoffs that is, it’s the one with Vincent D’Onofrio, Kathryn Erbe and now Jeff Goldblum.  Mazza First Hand Source was kind of hoping to see Mariska Hargitay, who has recovered from her Hamptons sledding accident-induced lung collapse (that sounds just as strange to us as it does to you) and returned to set last week looking fierce.  But alas, her TV jurisdiction extends no further than SVU.  Or maybe she’s off-duty.

By this morning, two enormous trailers were placed in front of Hayden Hall (including one that quite adorably listed the following stars’ names on the door: Lucy and Desi.  To which stars do these trailers actually belong?  D’Onofrio and Erbe, perhaps?).

By about 3:30, a crowd gathered near the chess tables on the west side of the park as cameras rolled.  Signs placed at the entrance to the park made the legal disclaimer that anyone who chose to remain in the park during filming could be photographed and filmed without pay.  (Another advantage to filming in New York: free and constant extras.)  Interestingly, a group of homeless men was provided chess pieces to actually engage in a game during the scene taking place directly behind them.

The scene itself featured Paul Dano (perhaps best known for his mostly silent role as Dwayne in “Little Miss Sunshine” ) in a business suit talking emphatically on a cellphone and walking hurriedly through the park.  Large technical equipment, including cameras, lighting, and a boom microphone, followed him for about three or four takes.

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Filming is scheduled to continue until about 8 P.M. tonight.  As for the final product, you can probably expect to find the Wasington Square Park scenes on an upcoming new episode – that is, if you can find it buried somewhere in the ubiquitous 24/7 Law & Order marathon that is television.

Here’s a place to start: the eigth season of Law & Order Criminal Intent is set to premiere on April 19, 2009 on the USA Network.

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British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former Chair of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker Hold Discussion at NYU

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It must be VIP week at NYU: first Nicolas Cage, Alfred Molina, and other stars show up to film a movie here, then Hillary Clinton is named commencement speaker for the Class of 2009 graduation, and now this:

Today at noon British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former Chair of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker will hold a discussion with NYU students and faculty about “A New Multilateralism in the 21st Century.”  According to the official NYU press release, “The event will include such pressing issues as global economic structures and policies, the challenges of climate change, and the need for cooperative approaches to security.”

Unfortunately the event is invitation-only (which may explain NYU’s last-minute press release).  But those of you hoping to catch at least a glimpse of these renowned people and a potentially fascinating discussion can view the event live on RealPlayer through the NYU website.

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View the complete photo gallery at Zimbio.

Hillary Clinton Named Commencement Speaker for NYU 2009 Graduation, Won’t Be Jumping into Fountain

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Today NYU officially announced that Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver the commencement address at the graduation ceremony for NYU’s Class of 2009.  The U.S. Secretary of State, former U.S. Senator from New York, former First Lady, and Wellesley and Yale Law graduate can now add to her list of accomplishments an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from NYU, which she will receive at the ceremony.

According to the NYU press release, honorary degree recipients also include White House Journalist Helen Thomas, Nobel physicist Albert Fert, health advocate Jessie Gruman, and playwright and NYU alum John Patrick Shanley.  NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein will receive the Rudin Award for “exemplary service to New York City.”

This year’s commencement will be held on May 13th at Yankee Stadium – since a substantial portion of the Washington Square Park (notably the fountain into which newly-minted NYU graduates traditionally jump, robes and all) remains closed for construction.  Though the vast majority of renovation, including landscaping, park benches, lampposts, and increased greenspace, appears complete, the closed section is not scheduled to re-open until “spring 2009” (which we really know, translating from construction-speak, is probably summer 2009 at the earliest).

But those of you who had been looking forward to some friendly secretary of state splish-splashing at the fountain, have no fear: if last year’s graduation streaker is any indication, anything can happen.

Action! “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” with Nicolas Cage Takes Over NYU and Washington Square Park

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Filming for “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” continued Friday night, with crews stationed all around NYU and Washington Square Park.

In a matter of hours, NYU’s Pless Hall (located in the Steinhardt building and home to the Black Box Theatre) was strikingly transformed into the “Communication Cafe”: faux signage was placed on several windows, kitschy lamps arranged throughout the room, and paintings and large collages hung on the walls.  A room normally frequented by NYU students for gathering and studying became a set for actors Nicolas Cage and Teresa Palmer – and don’t forget the bevy of sound, lighting, and camera people.

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When the director finally called “action,” cameras rolled as Teresa Palmer stormed angrily past Nicolas Cage and out of the “Communication Cafe.”  For an outside scene, several cars drove along Washington Place while a group of extras walked past the entrance to the Silver Center.

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A group of onlookers and fans chatted with a crew member (who was designated to control pedestrian traffic around the set) while the scenes were being filmed.

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Through the night, an extensive lighting system brightly illuminated the Silver Center, the brownstones on Washington Square North, the apartment buildings on lower Fifth Avenue, and numerous trees and paths in Washington Square Park.  Passersby stopped to find themselves gawking at the lighting and filming equipment placed prominently in these areas and in front of the Arch – not to mention gawking at stars Nicolas Cage and Teresa Palmer.

Jay Baruchel and Teresa Palmer Spotted on the Set of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” at NYU

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Stars Jay Baruchel and Teresa Palmer film at the NYU Law Building on West 4th Street on Thursday, March 19, 2009.  Get the details of the filming of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” at NYU here on Mazza First Hand Source.  Check out the complete photo gallery at Zimbio.