New York Hall of Science’s ‘Cathedral’ renovation shifts focus to Earth, sustainability with interactive exhibit

The “Cathedral of Science” in Queens is reopening Saturday, ready to capture a new generation of young thinkers on Mother Earth. The Great Hall at the New York Hall of Science, an architectural marvel of rippling 90-foot walls and cobalt blue glass, has just completed a six-year, $25 million renovation that shifts its focus from its 50-year-old space-age roots. “This is one of the hidden gems of mid-century modern architecture in New York City,” said Todd Schliemann of Ennead Architects, who designed the renovation. “It’s breathtaking.” FOLLOW THE DAILY NEWS ON FACEBOOK. CLICK HERE TO "LIKE" The Daily News got an early look at the Hall, located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and its new exhibit, which opens June 27. Once designed to simulate the experience of deep space, the hall now focuses visitors on the Earth with six interactive environments. When the building was constructed for the 1964-65 World's Fair, space exploration was the greatest scientific imperative of the time, said Dan Wempa, vice president of external affairs at the Hall of Science. “To modernize it, we chose the greatest scientific imperative of this time which is exploring the Earth and sustainability,” he said. But before the 38-foot virtual waterfall could be installed, the building needed to be revamped from the inside out. Architects searched out sections of rusting rebar and aging concrete for repair. About 50 of the 5,400 hand-crafted glass panels needed replacement. Schliemann said they returned to the Philadelphia-based stained glass company that had fabricated the original panels in the early 1960s. The revamp also included updated electrical systems including more energy-efficient lighting, heating and fire alarms as well as waterproofing to repair decades of drainage issues. The new permanent exhibit, “Connected Continue Reading

‘Focus,’ starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie, tops box office with $19.1 million

Will Smith's con-man caper "Focus" disrobed "Fifty Shades of Grey" at the box office, but the film's modest $19.1 million opening still left questions about the drawing power of the once unstoppable star. According to studio estimates Sunday, Warner Bros.' "Focus" easily topped all competitors on a weekend with little competition at North American multiplexes. In second place was the Colin Firth spy thriller "Kingsman: The Secret Service," which made $11.8 million in its third week of release. After two weeks atop the box office, "Fifty Shades of Grey" continued its steep slide, landing in fourth with an estimated $10.9 million for Universal Pictures. "Fifty Shades," which has made $486.2 million globally, fell just behind Paramount's "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water," which earned $11.2 million in its fourth week. The weekend's only other new wide release, Relativity's horror film "The Lazarus Effect," opened in fifth place with $10.6 million. But the weekend was largely seen, fairly or not, as a referendum on Smith's star power. "Focus," written and directed by the "Crazy, Stupid, Love" duo Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, is Smith's first film since 2013's "After Earth," the sci-fi flop in which he co-starred with his son, Jaden. Smith has been frank about the sting of that film's box-office performance. "I can't allow the box-office success, or lack thereof, to determine my self-image," he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. But "Focus," made for about $50 million and co-starring Margot Robbie of "The Wolf of Wall Street," was never intended to be a summer-sized blockbuster. It had been predicted to make around $21 million. "This is a mid-budgeted film with a result that matches," said Jeff Goldstein, head of distribution for Warner Bros., who added that winter storms accounted for a drop of $1-2 million. "There's no question we got hammered because of inclement weather in the South and the Midwest." The Continue Reading

Kris Jenner distances herself from Bruce Jenner in wake of transition talk and car crash; mom-ager will focus solely on ‘the girls’

Bruce Jenner has been completely abandoned by Kris Jenner, multiple sources tell [email protected] The Kardashian momager hasn’t seen her ex-husband of 23 years in “months,” our insider says, and chats with him only briefly on matters concerning their daughters Kendall and Kylie. “They don’t even talk (regularly),” says our source. “She doesn’t have anything to do with him, really.” Another source tells us Kris and Bruce’s “dynamic has certainly changed,” adding that Bruce hasn’t seen Kendall for a month, while she travels with her mom, modeling. In addition to feeling shocked and betrayed by her Olympian ex’s transition into a woman, which he will address publicly in an exclusive interview soon with Diane Sawyer, Kris also wanted to distance herself from Bruce after his car crash on Feb. 7 that left a woman dead. Kris “thinks the transition is Bruce’s business to deal with,” says our insider. “She doesn’t deal with his stuff.” The Kardashian matriarch, who still runs Jenner Communications, has “moved on,” says our source, and still can’t grasp how Bruce’s life changed. Bruce, who was reportedly in talks to film an E! docuseries about his new life, is said to be unsure if he’ll continue with that plan. “It’s not on hold; he just hasn’t decided,” says our second source. Kris is also slowly moving away from handling Bruce’s business affairs, says our source, and will now focus solely on “the girls.” A rep for Kris did not respond when asked is she’s still acting as Bruce’s manager. “She doesn’t talk about it [the transition]. She claims to support it, but she doesn’t understand it,” says the source. Never one to shy away from press — good or bad — Kris is the one who put the kibosh on a planned press Continue Reading

Will Smith and Margot Robbie’s latest film ‘Focus’ highlights rarity of interracial relationships in TV shows and films

It’s all there in black and white. Today, U.S. marriages between people of different races and ethnicities are on the uptick, but that’s rarely reflected on the big screen. Will Smith and Margot Robbie are currently heating up theaters as lovers in the comedy “Focus.” Thankfully the plot doesn’t dwell on their interracial romance, but it’s hard not to notice the pairing is scarce in mainstream movies. “Acting is one of few occupations where you can legally use race as a criteria for employment,” says Craig Lechner, CEO of Impossible Casting. “With these big pictures they are marketing to Middle America. It’s like the old cliché: ‘Will it play in Peoria?’” Judging by the low number of interracial couples on the big screen, it seems that most Hollywood executives still think that Middle America is not ready to accept people of different races in love — and therefore, won’t play well in Peoria, Illinois, believed to represent mainstream America. That’s a shame, especially considering that 10% of U.S. marriages today are between people of different races and ethnicities. Even when interracial romances are depicted, they can too easily become the whole story. That was the case in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967), in which the entire plot revolves around the fact that a young white woman’s new fiancé (Sidney Poitier) is black. A number of more recent movies have featured variations of this plot, from Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever” (1991) to “Save The Last Dance” (2001) with Julia Stiles. But these movies point to exactly what some Hollywood producers are afraid of when they cast an interracial couple. “People who make movies don’t want to be accused of making a deliberate statement,” says Paul Levinson, a professor of media studies at Fordham. “Juts to throw Continue Reading

De Blasio focused on ‘substance’ and not ‘personalities’ amid divide with Cuomo

Let’s not talk about feelings. Mayor de Blasio made it clear Monday that he doesn’t want to discuss his relationship with Gov. Cuomo — he’d rather focus on policy matters. After the Daily News reported the mayor is seeking advice on how to mend fences with his fellow Democrat, he didn’t deny the story, but he dismissed it for focusing on “personalities.” “I haven’t read it yet, but it strikes me as based on some thin evidence,” de Blasio said. “I think we should move on to the substance rather than talk about the personalities.” The mayor said he and Cuomo have been friends for two decades. “There’s a lot of areas where we agree. There’s some areas where we disagree,” said de Blasio. As an example of one area where they’ve butted heads, he cited the state’s refusal to increase education funding for the city after a landmark court ruling found the Big Apple has been consistently shortchanged. De Blasio did not mention any of the snubs he’s suffered at the governor’s hands since taking office. Asked specifically if he felt Cuomo was trying to thwart his agenda, de Blasio said, “I’m focused on substance.” The News reported de Blasio has been seeking advice from friends of his who are also close to Cuomo. The source said de Blasio was “at wit’s end.” The topic also came up in an interview on Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore,” where Hizzoner was asked about not “seeing eye to eye” with the governor. “When you're asking him for funds, do you feel like the guy on the subway — ‘I'm not here to beg! I’m actually the mayor of a large city,’ ” Wilmore quizzed him. “I actually do that in Albany, it’s exactly how I do it,” a smiling de Blasio replied. Continue Reading

Cuomo’s bizarre NYCHA repair plan: He would spread out funding arbitrarily and politically rather than focusing it on urgent housing development needs, like leaky roofs

On a freezing morning last March, more than 500 public housing residents from New York City traveled to Albany to press Gov. Cuomo and the state Legislature for a capital budget commitment to address outstanding structural repairs in their aging housing. They scored an unprecedented victory, surprising after decades of state disinvestment in public housing. By April, the Albany capital budget included a $100 million commitment to the New York City Housing Authority and its residents. It turns out, any celebration would have been short-lived. Because if the governor has his way, those funds will be dispersed politically, based on an arbitrary allocation — and frittered away on more cosmetic needs, rather than on urgent infrastructure needs. Is this another game to undermine Mayor de Blasio? Is Cuomo, who ran the federal department of Housing and Urban Development, really that cynical and shortsighted? EXCLUSIVE: CUOMO PULLING $100M FOR NYCHA ROOFS HITS TENANTS NYCHA estimates it has a $16 billion backlog in major capital needs. On April 10, the Authority submitted a revitalization plan to the state’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal directing the capital funds to roof replacements. Failing roofs are a prime cause of accelerating building deterioration, resulting in leaks down the line, corroding walls and unhealthy mold. The NYCHA plan correctly focused on buildings in the worst condition — 123 total in 18 developments across the city. By May, the governor set aside the plan and called a meeting of key legislators, announcing that they knew better what NYCHA needed. He solicited from all legislators with developments in their districts proposals for how to spend up to $2 million in state funding on public-housing improvements. Bizarrely, the state’s guidelines for proposal submissions explicitly discourage basic infrastructure repairs, such as roofing or mechanical systems. Instead, they suggest Continue Reading

De Blasio again denies rumors of White House run, stating he’s focused on City Hall reelection in 2017

Read his lips – he’s not running for President. An exasperated Mayor de Blasio once again swatted down rumors of a White House run, saying that he’s focused on his reelection to City Hall in 2017. “I’ve really said no a lot,” de Blasio said when asked at an unrelated press conference. “I’m going to say no again.” The rumors were sparked by his frequent speaking trips to other states, but de Blasio said he was just trying to keep the focus on income inequality. Continue Reading

Death of baby found with head trauma in Brooklyn condo ruled a homicide; Parents, baby-sitter now focus of NYPD investigation

A 2-month-old boy found unresponsive in the swanky condo of his power couple parents in October was murdered — the victim of shaken baby syndrome, authorities said Tuesday. Now the parents and the twin boy’s baby-sitter are the focus of an NYPD homicide investigation. Hudson Dipede — the son of Ryan Dipede and Virginia Jamieson, both 44 — was viciously shaken on Oct. 17 at the family $1.7 million home at The Edge, a waterfront Williamsburg condo. The city medical examiner declared the boy’s death a homicide on Tuesday. The infant died of “abusive head trauma” brought on by shaken baby syndrome, officials said. No one has been charged. On the night of Hudson’s death, baby-sitter Clair St. Louis called police at 9:37 p.m. claiming the baby was unresponsive and had blood coming out of his nose. She tried to perform CPR, but Hudson never regained consciousness. Hudson died at Woodhull Hospital an hour later, officials said. Detectives initially believed Hudson’s death wasn’t suspicious because there were no visible signs of trauma. He and his twin brother Archer — who came into the world three minutes earlier — were born a month premature. The babies had a number of health problems, relatives said. Hudson had been in the hospital since his birth and only returned home four days before he died. Cops interviewed the baby-sitter and the parents, but the investigation was put on hold three days later when the medical examiner said further testing would be required to determine the cause of death. Baby-sitter St. Louis, 37, told police that Jamieson and Dipede asked her to watch the child while they went out for dinner. She said she put the baby in his crib after the couple left. An hour later, she returned to the crib and found Hudson unresponsive and bleeding. She tried to perform CPR. Hudson’s brother Archer wasn’t hurt, police said. Jamieson Continue Reading

Silvio Berlusconi’s company to make its first English-language TV drama focused on life of mobster Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's company Mediaset is creating its first English-language TV drama, focusing on the life of the mobster Charles "Lucky" Luciano. "Lucky Luciano" will be a 12-part one-hour series, reports Variety. It will be co-produced with Federation Entertainment and written by US-based Alessandro Camon, known for his work on "The Messenger." Luciano, the first boss of the modern Genovese crime family, is considered a key figure in modern organized crime in the United States. Continue Reading

Obama urges demonstrators to focus on urban poverty, injustice— not stealing, burning

WASHINGTON — President Obama warned Tuesday that the looters and arsonists in Baltimore — “a handful of criminals and thugs” — had diverted attention from the “slow-rolling crisis” of urban poverty, injustice and inequality in America. In lengthy and heartfelt comments during a press conference with the prime minister of Japan, the President castigated the lawbreakers who were creating havoc an hour from the White House, but he said the shocking scenes should give us all pause about the fundamental causes of recurring unrest. “I think there are police departments that have to do some soul-searching, I think there are some communities that have to do some soul-searching, but I think we as a country have to do some soul-searching,” he said. Obama said his thoughts were with the family of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died in police custody of a severe spinal-cord injury, and with officers injured in Monday’s rioting. VIOLENT STANDOFF BETWEEN BALTIMORE PROTESTERS, POLICE: PHOTOS He said most protesters in Baltimore acted appropriately, and some organizers were “now going back into these communities to try to clean up in the aftermath of a handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place.” He harshly criticized those rioters, saying, “When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement. They’re stealing” and “need to be treated as criminals.” But the President also put the riots in a larger context, remarking that the violence followed a week of mostly peaceful protests over Gray’s death. Those demonstrations focused on “legitimate concerns” about police brutality and the cycle of poverty both in Baltimore and across the United States, he said. “They were Continue Reading