Local

Movie, Event Props Hit The Auction Block

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(Source: AP)

(Source: AP)

PEMBROKE PARK (CBS4) – Did you ever want to own your own sphinx so you could put it out in your back yard? Or how about a scaled down replica of the Eiffel Tower, or even a surf shack complete with a tin roof.

These can be yours, if the price is right, when ME Productions in Pembroke Park auctions off a number of props used for local events, TV commercials and movies on Tuesday.

South Florida fire officials ordered that the sets and props being housed a ME Productions’ 30,000-square-foot warehouse must go because they are a hazard. To make space, the event production company will auction them off.

The auction will be held at the warehouse located at 2000 SW 30th Avenue – bidding starts at 11 a.m.

Hal Etkin, who started the company more than 30 years ago, said even though they are being forced to get rid of stuff – there is a silver lining.

“It’s almost like a treasury unfolded,” Etkin said.

They found props and sets that had been lost for years. Etkin said he remembered building the Sphinx for an Egyptian-themed event years ago, but they could never find it – until they were forced to clear their warehouse and he found it behind some walls from a set used in the Wild, Wild, West.

Etkin, a former band leader, moved from New York to South Florida in the 1970s. Clients started requesting more products and services for his gigs, and ME Productions grew into a one-stop event production company for both business and social events during the ’80s and ’90s. During those years, major corporations were willing to pay big bucks for conferences held in South Florida.

“There was a period where anything anyone wanted, they got,” Etkin said.

ME Productions employees made nearly all the props and sets themselves. Early themes included tropical island and casino parties. One client requested a wall like the one used in the television show “Laugh-In.” A medieval theme included a small castle. A pirate theme used giant swords to create an archway. ME Productions even made a “Cheers” bar that could be broken down into smaller pieces and easily moved to different events.

All those pieces and many more spent decades filling ME Productions’ warehouse. And recently code enforcement and fire officials said more than half of it had to go.

Etkin’s son, Jim, said the Broward County Fire Marshal was threatening to shut them down in February.

Fire and code officials pointed out multiple issues that needed to be addressed, but the major issue seemed to be that they had sets and props stacked nearly to the ceiling, 25 feet above the floor. The codes states that nothing can be stored above 12 feet, unless the warehouse has a sprinkler system.

After several follow-up visits from inspectors, he still wasn’t sure what to do with everything in their warehouse, until he saw that their neighbor, City Furniture, was moving to a new location.

“I was able to lease their space for a month,” the son said.

“Once I was able to do that, the fire marshals went on hold.”

Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles said the agency doesn’t want to infringe on any business, but they do want all the buildings in their jurisdiction to be safe.

Jim Etkin is confident the auction is going to be successful. He said he’s been giving five or six tours a day to interested buyers, some of them offering to place bids early or just buy certain items outright. The auction has drawn interest from other event production companies, but also photo and video studios, costume companies and even hotels and restaurants.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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