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Protests erupt in NYC — not for Trump but for ‘The Joker’

Protests erupt in NYC — not for Trump but for 'The Joker'


NEW YORK – Crowds of protesters gathered on the courthouse steps, chanting for the freedom of their embattled hero. Police watched as passions flared and voices rose. Command cars and television trucks surrounded the commotion.

It’s a scene New York City authorities have been bracing for as prosecutors consider indicting former President Donald Trump, who called on followers to rally on his behalf. But on Saturday, it was just a movie shoot – to be more precise, the sequel to “Joker”.

The hoots died down and the crowd dispersed – on command – when the director shouted, “Cut!”

Filming in New York for the upcoming “Joker” sequel has been planned for months; but in recent days, production crews have grappled with the possibility that filming could be halted due to real-life protests over the Trump case — none of which have materialized so far.

In the end, the filmmakers made progress, said Leo Maniscalchi, a production assistant, who was taking a break at a nearby coffee shop.

“They should have done what they needed to do to do this,” he said.

In the film, the Joker, played by Joaquin Phoenix, inspires protests against Gotham’s elite.

In real life, Trump has also inspired protests. In recent weeks, the former president called on his supporters to protest what he said was an impending indictment accusing him of paying $130,000 to buy the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels.

“They can’t stop production for anything, really,” Maniscalchi said. “The scene didn’t call for rain, but we’re still here.”

For the past week, crowds — mostly in the media — have been following another courthouse down the street from the shooting. Earlier this week, a group of young republicans organized a protest, but their numbers were smaller than the crowd of journalists. A rumored caravan of Trump supporters also did not take place, as did a march dozens of blocks from Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue to the lower Manhattan courthouse.

When we last saw the Joker, he was running through the halls of a mental hospital with Frank Sinatra singing “That’s Life.”

In the sequel, titled “Joker: Folie à Deux,” Lady Gaga joins the cast as Harley Quinn, his love interest. Fittingly, the new move, which is expected to be released late next year, is being billed as a musical.

Siris Pagan, 30, arrived in lower Manhattan with her friend Marisa Perez to watch the shoot.

“When some of the shots were being shot, we started hearing loud chanting in the background and everyone was just turning around,” Pagan said.

Just a block away, both sides of the abortion issue vied for attention.

He thought it might have been part of the movie, but soon realized, “Oh, no, there’s a whole other thing going on.”

Reality and fiction suddenly collided, he said.

Jaymie Robinson, a 24-year-old extra from Newark, New Jersey, said she overheard a passerby who seemed confused about whether she was part of a real protest. The cameras and fake police cars — and signs reading “Free the Joker” — were meant to be a dead giveaway, she said.

Laurie Allard, who was visiting from Montreal, Canada, came across the outdoor film set while touring downtown Manhattan and at first didn’t know it was related to filming.

She was vaguely familiar with the Trump case – and knew it was happening nearby. So when she saw the crowd, she was a little taken aback.

“I didn’t want to get caught up in a protest or something … if something happened,” Allard said.

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