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Times Square starts spreading the news — no to Sinatra

SHARE Times Square starts spreading the news — no to Sinatra

NEW YORK — The Rev. Francis Patrick Duffy got a spot in Times Square in 1936 for his heroics on the battlefield and the streets of Hell's Kitchen. George M. Cohan followed in 1959 as a tribute to one of show business' greatest song and dance men.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani says there is room for one more famous bronze guy out there on the crossroads of the world. The mayor and his office have taken a shine to Frank Sinatra, whose last big hit, in 1980, was "New York, New York." The late entertainer's daughter, Nancy Sinatra, has found a sculptor and promises to come up with the money. There is even talk of an interactive Sinatra, who would croon on command.

"Nancy Sinatra is thrilled; this is her dream," said Charlotte Cohen of the city's Department of Cultural Affairs, who has been involved in the plans. "Everyone would love to see it done quickly."

But the hushed refrain playing around Times Square is not so gushing or welcoming. Start spreading the news, it goes. Not Here, Not Here.

No one really wants to say so, at least not loudly enough to irk Giuliani or offend the Sinatra family, but the plan to erect a statue of Ol' Blue Eyes on a traffic island at 44th Street and Broadway (across the street from the site off the old Paramount Theater, where Sinatra made his first real splash in 1942) has acquired some enemies.

The local community board, along with some Times Square developers, isn't crazy about the idea of a new tourist attraction in a place where the sidewalks are already overwhelmed by crowds. And the theater moguls say the square's 100-year-old theatrical tradition would be shortchanged by showcasing a singer and film actor who started in Hoboken, N.J., made a quick sensation at the Paramount Theater and then followed fame and fortune west of the Hudson.

Sinatra fancied himself "atop of the heap" in the city that doesn't sleep, but if the grumbling around Times Square is to be believed, New Yorkers would like less Las Vegas and Hollywood in their traffic-island idols. Times Square may be the center of the universe, but it is also a stronghold of Midtown provincialism: On the Great White Way, Sinatra, real or cast, is regarded as decidedly off-Broadway.