For the 50-by-30-foot bee that wants to alight on the great white tower of the
building, let Kong be a cautionary tale.
The giant inflatable bee is a promotional ad for "Bee Movie," an upcoming animated DreamWorks production.
The newspapers' owner, Philadelphia Media Holdings, wants to sit the bee on the 14th or 15th floor with its legs dangling over the side of the building, at Broad and Callowhill streets.
Farther down the building, the company wants to install two ads for the movie, one 50 feet by 80 feet, the other 5 feet shorter.
The company yesterday sought a variance from the Zoning Board of Adjustment to allow the bee a three-week stay.
In March 1987, when the Daily News was in the midst of promoting its new afternoon edition, then-editor Zack Stalberg rented a 40-foot paper-hawking King Kong-style gorilla balloon to cling to the tower.
But gusting 50-mph winds tore a couple of holes in the simian and shortened his stay.
Mary Tracy, who heads SCRUB, the Society Created to Reduce Urban Blight, opposed the variance at yesterday's hearing.
Tracy said the bee promotions would violate the city's billboard law as well as special controls along the Vine Street Expressway corridor.
After hearing both sides, the Zoning Board delayed a decision until Tuesday.
David Auspitz, board chairman, said afterward that while he personally wants to aid the movie industry because it would bring glamour and glitz to the city, he encouraged the company to meet with community groups before next week's hearing.
Brian Tierney, president and chief executive of Philadelphia Media Holdings, said the company is just trying to have a little fun.
"We're doing this to highlight this company and this city as a fun and creative place," he said. "It's meant to put a smile on the community's face."
A company official planned to attend a Logan Square community hearing last night, and Tierney said he wouldn't want the bee to buzz in without community support.
"If everybody would just take a deep breath and see we're trying to put a smile on people's faces, I think we can have some fun with it," he said.
Tracy said PMH was preparing to treat its building as an extension of its newspaper pages.
"I think that's crossing a line," she said, noting that the signage would violate height limitations, as well as the Vine corridor-advertising prohibition. She also fears that granting PMH a variance might set a precedent.
"We have many tall buildings in the city," Tracy said, adding that operators of those buildings probably would like "to be able to festoon them with outdoor advertising."
City Councilman Darrell Clarke, who represents the area, said, "Conceptually, I don't have a problem with temporary signage." He said he, too, wants to promote the city as "film friendly" to attract filmmakers and perhaps a production facility. *