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OpEd: LIRR Better Than Ever With Infrastructure Upgrades



Better than ever. That’s a bold statement to make, but I say it with confidence that we have made great strides rebuilding infrastructure and now the Long Island Rail Road can proudly say we are operating the safest and most reliable service in modern history while we fulfill longstanding promises in 2022.

Riding the first passenger test train recently with Governor Kathy Hochul and acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber to Grand Central Terminal was a glimpse into the future with East Side Access on pace to open by the end of 2022, marking the first new terminal in the U.S. since the 1950s. LIRR Expansion is also set for completion next year. Just last week, we ran the first passenger train to the new Elmont – UBS Arena Station for the first Islander home game in their new digs. With eastbound service available now, and full service coming soon, we’re expanding and giving our region much-needed public transportation options.

With so many milestones on the horizon, the best is yet to come. But, first, we had to tackle languishing infrastructure projects to meet the goal of providing a safe and reliable trip to customers, their biggest concern. We listened, and we delivered. Over the past three years: we’ve virtually eliminated delays and cancellations attributable to cars turning onto our tracks by installing flexible delineators at all 291 grade crossings, while partnering with Waze as the first railroad in the world to get grade crossing alerts in a consumer GPS system.

Waze has taken this initiative worldwide and Google is also adding this capability. Not only have we made Long Island and LIRR safer, but we’re proud to see our practice adopted making roadways and rail safer across the globe.

We’ve also completed record number of maintenance and state of good repair projects including new rail, concrete ties, Positive Train Control, new switches, and continue to mitigate low-adhesion during leaf fall season with an industry first laser train – the list goes on and on.

These measures have helped us achieve modern on-time performance records that we continuously strive to improve month by month, year by year. Our proactive outside the box thinking is delivering results and we are finding ways to do more with our available funding. As our infrastructure performs better, our operational costs are better controlled. This allows us to stay on the best track to fully modernize our system.

During this holiday season, we have many reasons to be thankful. Personally, I’m blessed for the opportunity to serve the public and the region I’ve called home for my entire life, working alongside dedicated LIRR employees.

With the railroad as good as it’s ever been, I’m welcoming record numbers of riders back. Taking public transportation helps protect the environment and is a smart and easy way to relax and enjoy all that Long Island and New York has to offer this joyous holiday season.

Phillip Eng is the president of the Long Island Rail Road.

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The Hardest Costume Design Challenge on ‘Cyrano’ Had Nothing to Do With the Lead Character



This story about the “Cyrano” costume design first appeared in the Below-the-Line Issue of TheWrap’s awards magazine.

The real Cyrano de Bergerac lived in France in the 17th century, and the Edmond Rostand play that immortalized him begins in 1640. But director Joe Wright made a conscious decision to move the action up a century for his new musical “Cyrano,” which stars Peter Dinklage as the poetic swashbuckler.

“The idea was to re-create Cyrano around the mid-1700s to give the idea of lightness through the costumes,” costume designer Massimo Cantini Parrini said. “The 1600s, while a beautiful period to represent, is very set and rigid. Setting a musical in the 1700s allowed us to make everything light and airy at the same time.”

Parrini achieved that lightness by using delicate and transparent fabrics inspired by watercolors from the 1700s that he’d seen in a museum in Rome. “The colors were so watery and ethereal that I wanted to re-create them through the costumes, using more fabrics one on top of the other, with different colors,” he said.

He worked with natural fibers such as silk and linen, along with fabrics like organza that are “delicate but full-bodied at the same time.” He added, “For me, it is very important to maintain the criteria of the costume itself while capturing the essence of the historical period that I have to represent.”

Costume design for Peter Dinklage’s Cyrano

But Parrini occasionally used costumes that weren’t strictly accurate to the period. “Bringing modernity to a historical language is very important for understanding the costumes,” he said. “It is important for me that the costume is understood even by an audience that knows nothing of the past.”

He also needed to pay attention to the requirement that costumes would need to move with actors who suddenly turned into dancers. “I enjoyed using materials that aided me in creating movement,” he said. “For example, it was wonderful to see the soldiers in their rigid uniforms suddenly become light as air during the dance sequences.”

Costume sketch for the character of De Guiche

His favorite articles of clothing, though, were the ones he designed for Ben Mendelsohn’s villain, De Guiche, while the most challenging designs were for the nuns in a convent where Cyrano’s longtime secret love, Roxanne, lives after her husband is killed in battle. (Costumes for Roxanne, played by Haley Bennett, were designed by Jacqueline Durran.)

“The nuns’ costumes were very difficult because I was looking for modernity and antiquity at the same time—they caused me a great deal of suffering!” he said. “The result is beautiful, though, because the nuns are ‘aliens’ of the 1700s, maintaining an authority that the clergy requires.”

Read more from the Below-the-Line Issue here.

Photo by Jeff Vespa for TheWrap

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‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Hits $1.6 Billion at the Box Office



Another week, another set of box office milestones to have fallen at the feet of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, continuing what’s been a regularly recurring theme ever since the multiversal blockbuster first hit theaters over a month ago.

Tom Holland’s web-slinger may have lost his box office crown to Ghostface’s return in slasher sequel Scream, but a running domestic tally in excess of $700 million has secured Spidey’s status as the star of the fourth highest-grossing domestic hit of all-time.


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