‘Burn Notice’ could get extra year in Coconut Grove

The television show Burn Notice can spend another year in the old Coconut Grove Convention Center — but only if the producers blow up the building.

08/03/2012 5:00 AM

08/03/2012 3:01 PM

The producers of the spy series Burn Notice and Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff have a tentative compromise that would enable the show to film a seventh season in Coconut Grove, the commissioner said Thursday.

Fittingly, it involves a huge explosion.

Sarnoff has wanted to tear down the old Coconut Grove Convention Center, where Burn Notice has filmed for the past six years, to make room for a waterfront park.

But the producers begged to stay on the city-owned property, and even offered to spend more than their $240,000 annual rent.

After a tense meeting at City Hall last week, Sarnoff made Burn Notice an offer: The show can stay at the convention center through October 2013 rent free — but only if it demolishes the building at the end of the season and carts away the trash. The demolition, which will cost around $500,000, would have otherwise eaten into the $1.8 million budgeted for the park, Sarnoff said.

Sarnoff said the proposal was “well received.” He envisions the explosion being written into the show.

“How cool would it be for them to blow up the convention center in the last episode?” he said.

The deal must go before the Miami Commission for final approval. It also needs a thumbs-up from the show’s parent company, Fox Television Studios.

Producer Terry Miller declined to comment Thursday.

Bob Lemchen, Fox’s head of production, said he was not aware of any deals, but that he was “optimistic” the show and the city would reach an agreement soon.

“At this juncture we are not even close to terms that [we] can accept,” Lemchen said in a statement Friday. “Negotiations will continue, but the studio concurrently is exploring alternative production locations, including within Florida as well as outside the state.”

Burn Notice has yet to be picked up for a seventh season on the USA network, but the producers are hopeful. They reached out to city commissioners last month to begin negotiating an extra year on their lease.

The request met resistance from Sarnoff, who insisted he was ready to move forward with the park. Sarnoff pointed out that the $1.8 million for the project — from grant money and Burn Notice rent payments — had already been set aside, and that Grove residents have been asking for a park for years.

The green space is part of the Coconut Grove Master Plan, which was developed by residents, business owners and city planners between 2005 and 2008. It seeks to open up access to the waterfront with parks and public plazas.

Burn Notice moved into the convention center as the master plan was being created. The television show never planned to stay for seven years, but its producers sought lease extensions each year the show was renewed.

The annual debate between park supporters and Burn Notice supporters has been contentious.

Advocates for the show say Burn Notice has brought coveted film industry jobs to South Florida, and that the cast and crew pump money into the Coconut Grove economy.

Supporters of the park are adamant that the convention center is an eyesore. They also resent the city for renting prime waterfront property to a TV series at such a low rate.

Last week, city commissioners suggested Burn Notice relocate to a soundstage in the Wynwood neighborhood.

But Lemchen said the show was built around filming in Coconut Grove — and threatened to leave Miami-Dade County if the convention center lease was not renewed.

Should the commission approve the compromise, Burn Notice could literally go out with a bang at the end of its seventh season.

“There no downside to keeping this show here for another year,” said Fabio Arber, a line producer for reality television shows who lives in South Florida. “It’s a no brainer.”

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