Woody Allen and Music in the Air

Photograph: Woody Allen directs actor Natasha Lyonne in front of Low Library on Oct. 19. Several times during the afternoon, the young actor performed a single musical scene for a movie by Allen. The music, played over an amplifier, was heard all along College Walk and attracted many on-lookers. Photo Credit: Eileen Barroso.

Hollywood arrived once again on campus last week, this time with Woody Allen.

Allen is famous for being secretive about his films while they are made, and members of the production crew would only describe the film as "a comedy." But the scene shot in front of Low Library last Thursday afternoon had a musical element.

There was no dialogue or interaction, just one strawberry blond actor, Natasha Lyonne, striding along the walkway from Low toward Lewisohn, singing into a cellular phone.

Actually, she was lip-synching.

"It was just one of those crazy things!" the recording played while the actress tossed her curls and mouthed the words into the hand-held telephone. The music was loud enough for anyone along College Walk to hear, and its classic melody contrasted with the modern scene of campus life. "It was great fun! But it was just one of those things!"

The activity drew a crowd of curious students, many from the School of the Arts, who lined up several deep behind the security line near Dodge Hall.

"It's a comedy set in New York," said Lauren Gibson, personal assistant to Allen. "In this particular scene, the character is in her freshman year at Columbia, and so we have a quick shot here on campus."

The picture, part of which was filmed in Venice and Paris, will be released in fall 1996. It is still untitled, according to crew members. In addition to Lyonne, the cast includes Julia Roberts, Alan Alda, Goldie Hawn, Tim Roth, Drew Barrymore and others.

During the filming Thursday, Allen stood in the middle of the tangle of wires and camera equipment, usually with his hands in his pockets. Carlo DiPalma, director of photography for the film, bounced along with the song and joked with the crew.

This is the fourth Woody Allen film with scenes shot on campus. "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "Crimes and Misdemeanors" were shot on Morningside campus; and "Husbands and Wives" was shot at Barnard.

"Woody chose this location," said one of the crew members. "He likes it up here."

Columbia University Record -- October 27, 1995 -- Vol. 21, No. 8