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Scorsese documents Liberty

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on: November 25, 2003, 03:46:52 PM
Scorsese to Produce Lady Liberty Film  

NEW YORK - Martin Scorsese offered his moviemaking talent Tuesday to a campaign to reopen the Statue of Liberty to the public.

The "Gangs of New York" director will produce and narrate a television documentary on Lady Liberty to air in January, as part of an effort to raise money for new security measures.

The federal government has spent millions on upgrades, but about $5 million in work is necessary before visitors can start climbing the 354 steps to the crown of the 151-foot-high statue. It's unknown how high visitors will be allowed to climb until security measures are in place.

At a news conference at the edge of New York Harbor across from the Statue of Liberty, Scorsese said he "had an immediate emotional response" when he was asked to create the documentary. He said his Italian ancestors sailed past the statue on their way to Ellis Island, and he hoped his documentary would be "a reminder and a promise" of America's democracy.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who joined Scorsese, invoked Lady Liberty's symbolism.

"Many of America's and New York's sons and daughters are around the world fighting for the freedoms that the Statue of Liberty stands for," Bloomberg said. "They're continuing a war that started only a few blocks from here. The reopening of the Statue of Liberty is another way to show that we are going to win the war and that New York will always remain the world's second home."

The Statue of Liberty National Monument, a 58-acre island in New York Harbor, was closed to the public immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The island was reopened in December 2001, after airport-type metal detectors were installed to screen visitors boarding the ferry from lower Manhattan. The statue itself has remained closed.

Planned upgrades include fire and emergency notification systems and more exits from the monument.

Once security improvements are made, the National Park Service must ask Interior Secretary Gale Norton for permission to reopen the statue to visitors. No timetable has been set.

On Tuesday, American Express pledged at least $3 million to The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, which is overseeing the project. After the terrorist attacks, the company's offices in the World Financial Center were vacated for nine months. Folgers also has pledged funding for the campaign.
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