PPA Profiles: Lawrence A. Timberlake

June 2, 2014

Have you had a sense of déjà vu when watching a favorite film or television show? You might have seen a familiar landscape in Prospect Park. The Park has been featured in a number of productions and photo shoots, from Essence magazine to the films Julie and Julia, Date Night, and It’s Complicated, and the television shows Boardwalk Empire, The Americans, and even Sesame Street. These activities need to be carefully coordinated to minimize their impact on the Park and its visitors, which falls to Deputy Director of Special Events Lawrence A. Timberlake.

An NYC Parks employee, Timberlake started in the Special Events office at Prospect Park over seven years ago, and has steadily worked his way up to his current position overseeing film, television and photo shoots, as well as festivals and large-scale events, such as the popular New York Philharmonic in the Park (this year taking place July 9) and past events such as Tropfest. When it comes to photo, film and television productions, Lawrence explained that Prospect Park is a favorite because of its natural beauty and the ease of working on location here. “These types of activities,” he explained, “bring in important revenue that goes toward the continuous upkeep of the Park.”

Lawrence has seen a number of celebrities and blockbuster film projects in Prospect Park, but which one was his favorite? Without hesitation, he answered, “The Smurfs, because it was a childhood favorite.”

Coordinating productions in Prospect Park can be a serious undertaking, but facilitating large-scale events can be a monumental task. One of Lawrence’s favorite events is film icon and Brooklyn native Spike Lee’s annual Michael Jackson Birthday Celebration. It is an extremely popular event, with thousands of people gathering at the Nethermead. One year, Lawrence accompanied the legendary rapper Snoop Dogg to the event, along with fellow performer Warren G. Before the duo stepped out of the vehicle, they admired the crowd and bestowed Prospect Park with one of its highest compliments: “This is real Brooklyn Luv.”