Buffalo City Leaders Upset Over Cellino & Barnes Commercial

5:46 PM, Aug 3, 2011   |    comments
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Buffalo Common Council President David Franczyk

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The jingle, the lawyers and the pitch have been the same for years, but the new location in the latest Cellino & Barnes commercial seems to have stunned City of Buffalo leaders.

That location is the majestic Buffalo Common Council Chambers on the 13th floor of City Hall, where the well-known law firm filmed the television ad.

"And we were kind of shocked to see that," Council Majority Leader Rich Fontana said. "And I said, 'well, how'd that happen?'"

According to Fontana, the city does not allow any commercials to be filmed inside the chamber. So how did Cellino & Barnes get inside?

According to council leaders, local filmmaker Peter McGennis was given special permission to re-shoot some movie scenes in there on a Saturday in June. Apparently, while there, he also shot the commercial for Cellino and Barnes, even though city leaders say they've denied another law firm permission to film there.

"They were kind of pulling a fast-one and I think they should have known better," Council President David Franczyk said. "This is a public space in a public building, and what I said was, 'What, are you going to have dog food commercials next?' You cannot have those chambers used for commercials for private businesses. It's just not right. It's not proper. And it's not going to be permitted."

Franczyk, Fontana and Mayor Byron Brown are now calling for Cellino & Barnes to stop running the commercial, which also airs here on Channel 2.

We left messages for both Cellino and Barnes and the filmmaker. So far, neither has responded.

An executive for the law firm was quoted in the Buffalo News as saying the firm would not be pulling the ad, which is running here on Channel 2. The filmmaker also told the paper he wasn't trying to pull a fast one, and that this was a misunderstanding for which he apologizes.

REPORTER: What's the big deal about letting them film a commercial in here, especially if you're allowing scenes from a movie to be shot here?

FONTANA: The movie issue is a little bit different. There's different parameters when it comes to different movies. You want to show your city to as many people as possible. But commercialization of a public space normally is not allowed. It's not allowed in a lot of municipalities across the state.

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