Hotel Gramercy Park
Photos and Video
Director Douglas Keeve, who peeked under the skirts of the fashion industry in Seamless (which played at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2005) and Unzipped, turns his camera on another facet of New York: the Gramercy Park Hotel. In its earliest iteration, the hotel lured in those who had arrived in high society-and those who wanted to. The Kennedys rented out a floor. An up-andcoming Humphrey Bogart tied the knot there. In the '70s and '80s, it became popular with creative-types of a different sort: the musicians, artists, and junkies who appreciated the management's "anything goes" attitude. In Hotel Gramercy Park, Keeve goes behind the scenes of the iconic hotel as it is readied for a grand re-opening under the management of luxury hotelier Ian Schrager. Beneath the high gloss of Schrager's renovation lies all the people who experienced Gramercy, from the fresh-off-the-bus actor-turned-bellhop who hopes to be discovered there to the sulky neighbors who resent the transformation of their shabby-chic landmark. Amid all this, Keeve weaves in the stories of the people who know the hotel best: the longtime residents who refuse to leave during construction and surviving members of the Weissberg family, who owned the hotel for 50 years. Operators as well as residents of the hotel, the Weissbergs-like the Kennedys-were both successful and tragedy-ridden, losing family members to cancer, drugs, and suicide in quick succession. Comprehensive in its scope, with appearances by Schrager, Deborah Harry, and an eager-to-move-in Karl Lagerfeld among others, Hotel Gramercy Park's picture of hotel living is as effortless as room service.
Director's Statement Collapse
It really all started when the guy jumped off the roof. And then Ian bought the hotel and everybody was freaking out because the Gramercy was this incredible old dinosaur and there really aren't any dinosaurs around anymore. And my friend and producer, Wendy Ettinger, lived across the street and said, “Let’s do a movie before it's totally gone." So we did.
It starts as the quintessential New York story: An immigrant, Herbert Weissberg, works his way up from nothing and ultimately buys his castle, in this case the Gramercy Park Hotel. He moved his family in because he thought it would be a great place to raise his family. Sadly, all those good intentions sort of turned on him. After a downward spiral the Weissbergs were forced to sell the hotel, but they weren't the only ones down on their luck—for the buyer, Ian Schrager, this was the opportunity to rebuild a flagging hotel empire. Ian had never given anyone access. He's really sort of shy, or at least not in love with being public, which is ironic because he is so public. It was a minor miracle that he said yes, thanks to Marcy Granada, an old friend from old Miramax.
Following Ian was a dream (he works a construction site like skier on a slalom). He really should have been a fashion designer because he has that same quirky and passionate and mercurial bend. It was hard to keep up, and sometimes impossible to fathom. Tweaking the lighting in the hotel at 3 AM? No problem. Looking at 50 floral arrangements for the lobby, then a hundred more. Pick a tiny bowl of teeny wildflowers. Perfect.
And we wanted to tackle the bigger issues. Change. Madness. Death. Trying to make sense of it all within the context of these peoples. lives. We did that. It's sad. And very happy. And at the end of the day, you will have to decide for yourself.
Film Information Collapse
Cast & Credits Collapse
Principal Cast Ian Schrager, Debbie Harry, Karl Lagerfeld, Paris Hilton
Executive Producer: Josh Braun
Producer Wendy Ettinger
Co-Producer Kerthy Fix
Editors Mollie Goldstein, Cindy Lee, Michael Levine
Director of Photography Douglas Keeve
Sound Kristian Borysevicz
About the Director(s)Collapse
Douglas Keeve is a renowned photographer and director. His work has appeared in GQ, Italian Vogue, Esquire, Glamour, American Vogue, and Interview magazines. His commercial clients include Armani, DeBeers, Seagrams, Tommy Hilfiger, The New York Times, Macy's, and L'Oréal. His film clients include Victoria's Secret, Armani, American Vogue, Express, Louis Vuitton, Macy's, and L'Oréal.