There's been a lot of discussion about whether "The Amazing Spider-Man" series could ever cross over from Sony, to Marvel/Disney's "The Avengers." Here's the thing: they already have, and it's all because of one guy.
Veteran news anchor Pat Kiernan from local news station NY1 has appeared on screen multiple times. But his upcoming, very prominent appearance in the May 2 premiering "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" cements his reputation as the go-to fictional newsman. He's previously appeared in "Iron Man 3," "The Avengers" and others.
But unlike Stan Lee, who's played multiple, different characters in nearly every Marvel related movie, Pat Kiernan has played only one character: Pat Kiernan, NY1 news anchor. That means that whether the studios play nice or not, the movies have already crossed over.
"It's interesting, I never realized I was the only common character to all of them," Kiernan said when we caught up with him by phone. "I could work up some plotlines now, I could be the link between these things."
Kiernan continued, joking that, "Usually they have me in the newsroom, so I'd have to be out there and somehow become the go-between, between these two universes."
So how does a reputable fellow like Kiernan get involved in blockbuster superhero movies?
"Usually the producers come to NY1, because they're seeking some sort of New York City authenticity," Kiernan said. "It's typical they'll reach out to us rather than us reaching out to them. I haven't got an acting agent who's out there looking for these things, they all land in my lap somehow. We've got a decent reputation now as a place that has fun with this."
The network does careful vetting to make sure the movie's script works for NY1, both in terms of dialogue and whether it's news they'd actually cover. Once the network approves a script, they'll send it to Kiernan to do a pass himself.
When Kiernan does get a script and needs a change, he's careful to emphasize, "I don't hate your version," but will send both a take of the studio's line, and a modified version more in line with how Kiernan might deliver the line in a regular newscast.
"I can't think of a time they haven't used the second version," Kiernan said, laughing.
Part of this approach is because Kiernan will only get his small piece of the script, rather than knowing the whole circumstances of the movie. Not knowing the director's vision or plot, he's careful to try and give the studio what they want.
And a large part of the reason for that is the movie crew doesn't come in and shoot at NY1. The network uses their own cameras, and their set — and then just sends the footage digitally to the studio to use for their film.
"That's why it's so straightforward for me," Kiernan said. "It's me with my usual crew, my usual teleprompter."
For "Amazing Spider-Man 2," there was one line that Kiernan was hesitant about, though. After a pitched Times Square battle with Electro, the movie would have cut to Kiernan saying, "Times Square became times scare tonight."
"I had a long exchange with their producers, and in turn our producers," Kiernan said. "My question was, that's kind of cute, but if people died I'm not going to be inappropriately flippant. They came back and said, 'no, there's a lot of destruction, but it's not a death scene, so I think you could get away with that.'"
Though that line didn't make the movie, there is a key, spoilery plot point that Kiernan does get to deliver about halfway through. Even though he is a fan of the movies, Kiernan noted that, "if the price of getting to be part of these big movies is having a plot points spoiled, so be it. We really like doing it, because it puts our brand out there linked with the way New Yorkers get their news."
One scene we can spoil — because we debuted it on MTV News — is the big Times Square battle, which finds an NY1 cameraman feeding live footage of the battle directly to every screen in the vicinity. So does the news network really have that kind of power?
"No, not that I'm aware of," Kiernan said, laughing. "That would be good though. Just every morning for five minutes at eight o'clock I could zap our newscast. I would love that. We could talk to Mayor de Blasio about that."
Kiernan will appear this weekend on screens in "ASM2," and you can look for him to re-team with Jamie Foxx on the upcoming "Annie." But regardless whether it's a blockbuster action thriller, or a musical, Kiernan is careful to not alarm the staff.
"Literally I'll send out a bulletin by e-mail to the staff sometimes," Kiernan said, "do not be alarmed, there hasn't been a major terrorist incident in Times Square. It's just me shooting a movie!"
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" opens in theaters on May 2. All photos credit Tim Hill Photo.