Times Insider Explains who we are and what we do and sheds light on how our journalism comes together from behind the scenes.
At the New York Times printing plant in College Point, Queens, the soundtrack is usually rapid thwap, thwap, thwap The blank paper is changing to the next edition. But one night in February, thanks to a famous beetle and Singer Dominic FikeThings got a bit more musical.
“Do you have it,” Mr. Fike sings in a Music video Shot in the plant, “read the paper?” The song is a cover of Paul McCartney’s “Kiss of Venus,” and Mr. Fike is shown around him taking the plant 14 miles up the conveyor belt carrying copies of the Times.
Rolling with the press and overshadowing copies assembled, he monitors and sings dizzy activity, in verses he added about issues and people’s differences on the media. “What do you think of this?” He asks.
The 78-year-old former Beetle himself does a cameo at the end of the video, sitting on a bench outside London. He whistles that tune as the camera zooms in on an imitation of The New York Times International issue. Mr. McCartney slowly lowered the paper to reveal wide eyes and a flurry of gray hair. He then raises his eyebrows and rash.
“Paul said whistle for the first time in its entirety,” said Jack Begart, who directed the video. “He is aristocratic.”
Mr. Begart stated that Mr. McCartney’s image enthusiastically underlines a copy of the paper that he is ultimately the source of the music. Mr. Beggart said, “Even though Dom remade that song, at the end of the day it’s a Paul McCartney song.”
Last year, Mr. McCartney wrote And recorded “Kiss of Venus,” an acoustic song Smooth, for her recent solo album “McCartney III“Remixed version of Mr. Fick – R&B pop earworm – is part of the album”Imagination of McCartney III, “Friday,” which features A-listers covering the tracks “McCartney III”.
So how did The New York Times play a brilliant role in Mr. Fick’s video?
Mr. Begert said he considered “the kiss of Venus” a reflection of the stopping and knowing energy of modern life – and said that when the time came to conceptualize a video, his first thought was in New York. “It’s still more beautiful, but it’s also crazy,” he said.
Reid Bennett, the video’s creative director, suggested the Times printing plant. “I was like, ‘That’s absolutely right,” Mr. Beggart said. “I wanted to link back to the subject of a person feeling younger, but also like that they have an important place in the universe.”
Along with copies of Newsday and USA Today, the cavernous, 550,000-square-foot plant – about the size of 11,000 and half football fields, about 11,000 and half a football field.
The presses are generally quiet during the day, but at night, seven Cerealian blue behemoths – each several stories long – roar for life. “It gets your adrenaline pumping,” said Nick D’Andrea, vice president of production at the College Point plant. “You get that excitement as they start to take out the paper.”
Mr. Beggart said a late version of the paper goes to press at around 10:15 a.m., so a video crew of eight showed up on a Friday night of February before scouting possible shots. After that, the pressure continued: they had a few hours – maximum – until the press stopped for the night.
The video’s executive producer, Sam Canter, said, “All we knew was that we had to take as many different shots as possible.”
Once he started shooting, Mr. Fick noted the organized chaos around him.
“I don’t know what I expected, but it was real,” he said in an interview. “It felt like Santa’s elf factory on the North Pole on Christmas evening.”
This is not the plant’s first on-screen appearance. It took about two minutes in a scene from “The Bourne Legacy” – which took three days to shoot – and is featured in episodes like “30 Rock,” “Elementary” and some commercials.
Mr. D’Andrea, who has worked at the Times Production facilities for 46 years, said visitors were often stopped by the plant’s team of laser-powered robots, which encircled the paper rolls on the press.
“People are like, ‘I didn’t know you could do that,'” he said.
But Mr. Fick’s reaction was to the contrary. “I was surprised by all the original machinery and how old it was,” he said. “Everything that happened there was printed, recorded and written.” Probably not quite everything, but still a lot of history. Mr. Fick said he was particularly taken with a page (printed in a different plant) showing the 1969 moon landing.
Although Mr. Fick is not a fond news consumer, the experience of seeing the press and feeling some of the history there may have influenced him. “I’m not a news man. But I love NYT and I’m going to start reading this news,” said the 25-year-old singer. “That’s what people do when they grow up.”
Well, maybe, but reading the news can help keep you young. Just ask the whistle-blower of 78 years.