Just don’t expect this star to make any red-carpet appearances.
Coney Island’s Wonder Wheel will not only make a cameo in Woody Allen’s forthcoming film — it will also lend its name to the title. The celebrated and controversial director, who spent time shooting in The People’s Playground last summer, has named his upcoming 2017 offering “Wonder Wheel” after the amusement-district gem. The landmarked ride is an enduring icon that has managed keep spinning through depressions, wars, and Hurricane Sandy — so it’s only fitting that it gets a titular nod in Allen’s next flick, according to the ride’s co-owner.
“I feel the Wonder Wheel is not just a piece of old New York, it’s New York itself,” said Steven Vourderis, who runs the Ferris wheel along with brother Dennis. “It’s a modern marvel and who better to highlight it and Coney Island than Woody Allen? It’s terrific that he named it after the Wonder Wheel, it really is.”
Allen and stars Kate Winslet and national treasure Justin Timberlake spent about three weeks last summer filming on the Boardwalk — the director’s first professional return to Coney since 1977’s “Annie Hall,” which featured the original Thunderbolt roller coaster before Mayor Rudy Giuliani had it demolished in the middle of the night in 2000.
The film will center on the Boardwalk and amusement district in the 1950s, according to fan blog The Woody Allen Pages, which first reported the new title. Scenes from the film will feature the Boardwalk, a retro Luna Park outfitted with old rides, and the Freak Bar fashioned to look like a 1950s dive, according to sideshow impresario Dick Zigun, who lent his watering hole to the director.
The major motion picture will further promote the Wonder Wheel and Coney’s glory, said the so-called “Mayor of Coney Island.”
“Woody Allen movies are always a big event and the fact that it’s set here and named after the Wonder Wheel, I feel this will help further highlight the amusement park,” said Zigun. “And I know this means much to the continuing legend of Coney Island. It’ll keep the lore alive.”
The 15-story Wonder Wheel has been around since 1920 and has given more than 35 million rides since it began spinning. Vourderis patriarch Denos bought the ride in 1983 and renamed it “Deno’s Wonder Wheel.” It was designated a city landmark in 1989 and is one of the oldest rides in Coney Island.