Finally, in late February, Rodriguez and his business manager, Jose More, sat down in Friedman's study to discuss the problems. A-Rod apologized for the late-night pool party and was conciliatory, Friedman recalls. But More was brusque. "Everything we do is legal," he said. "I understand you had an empty lot next door for years, but now you have a neighbor. That's the way it is."

When Friedman later drafted a document asking Rodriguez to limit filming to five days a month, More balked. "I called and called, but he didn't answer," Friedman says. (Neither More nor Rodriguez' agents returned New Times' requests for comment.)

Shortly before baseball season began, Friedman was walking his Labrador when he spotted A-Rod pulling out of his driveway. Rodriguez stopped to joke that he must be doing something right because he hadn't heard from Friedman in weeks. "C'mon, Alex. Your partner isn't calling me back," Friedman replied. "I've got no choice but to try to change the city code."

Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson on the set of Pain & Gain.
Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson on the set of Pain & Gain.

Rodriguez smiled at him and said, "Irwin, go for it."

So Friedman unleashed his lawyers. Lobbyist Alex Tachmes convened meetings with city commissioners and submitted a plan: Residential permits would be restricted to five days a month — or twice as many with neighbors' consent — and a total of 75 per year. The Neighborhood and Community Affairs Committee rejected the idea, painting the conflict as a simple spat between neighbors.

"The movie industry keeps saying that Irwin Friedman has a personal problem with his neighbor," Friedman says. "But plenty of other people on Miami Beach have this on their minds."

To prove it, he recruited more than half a dozen Miami Beach homeowners' associations to back his plan. When the issue arose again in September, he was ready for war.

It was reality television at its finest. Four beautiful, busty, barely clothed women perched precariously on the trunk of a gleaming red Ford Mustang. The sumptuous shot was perfectly framed by the palm trees lining the Venetian Causeway. Too bad the locals didn't see it that way.

As cameramen hung out the back of a white minivan to shoot the French TV series Les Anges de la Télé-Réalité (The Angels of Reality TV): Miami Dreams, a line of cars piled up behind the film fiasco. Finally, an annoyed driver had enough. He swerved into the other lane, only to find an oncoming car barreling down. Cars screeched to a halt, inches from a collision, as French models clung for dear life to the Mustang.

The April 19, 2011 incident was one of ten complaints in the past 18 months involving Miami Beach filming. Police confiscated Les Anges' permit on the spot and Winick scolded permit-holder Sassoum Niang in an email.

But such complaints only hint at a bigger problem that goes far beyond Friedman's spat with A-Rod. Dozens of Miami Beach residents are locked in a bitter battle with rich, often famous neighbors who abuse city code by running de facto film studios out of their private homes. In some cases, the studios aren't even being run by people but rather by mysterious shell companies.

"It's a pain in the neck," says Cesar Valdesuso, a San Marino Island resident who is surrounded by houses rented out for film and photo shoots. "We have complained to the city bitterly about it, but these movie people have the attitude that they own the world."

Records obtained by New Times show which Miami Beach addresses have received the most permits in the past three years. The list is a virtual who's who of celebrities on the island, from Rodriguez to reality TV stars to professional athletes' wives, and includes homeowners with suspect financial records.

1137 N. Biscayne Point Road: French owner and fashion photographer Francis Milon, one of the founders of mega-nightclub Mansion, has obtained 13 permits.

4358 N. Bay Road: In less than a year, Alex Rodriguez has gotten 20 permits and hosted more than a dozen photo shoots, a Victoria's Secret commercial directed by Michael Bay, and four days of filming for The X Factor.

420 E. San Marino Drive: Marita Stavrou, ex-wife of former NBA star Reggie Miller, has rented out her house 21 times to crews from The X Factor, Ebony magazine, and Victoria's Secret.

4821 Pine Tree Drive: Villa Vecchia is currently Miami Beach's most sought-after location, with 25 permits for everything from Magic City and Iron Man III to Telemundo telenovelas.

6396 N. Bay Road: This beachfront mansion is currently owned by Miami Heat star Chris Bosh, but all of the 30 film permits here — including shoots for Kohl's, Chadwicks, and H&M — date to before he bought the house in 2010.

Many of these most frequently rented houses have sparked neighborhood battles, with allegations of illegal short-term rentals and code violations. Villa Vecchia, for example, was owned for nearly 20 years by perfume importer Luis A. Quintero. But neighbors say he was rarely there, instead opening the $20 million mansion up to raucous private parties and endless movie shoots.

"They would rent it out for all kinds of commercial enterprises: parties, weddings, anything they could make some money off of," says next-door neighbor Lewis Levey. "It is illegal to rent your house like that, but if the city gets some money, they'll let you do anything."

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help
frankd4 topcommenter

since when is an area "exclusive" just because the properties are so expensive ?


is it the theory that all uber-rich are kind and compasionate towards their neighbors so these communities must all be a blissful utopia ?


a residential community is for the "quiet enjoyment" of it's residents - except, of course, in south florida, where loud and brassy is the norm and elected officials are typically bought and paid for - period


hey with cali voters just insisting porn stars must use condoms and the porn industry now clamoring to flee - maybe miami will become the porn capital replacing cali


then maybe friedman will see the day he wished he had A-FRAUD as his neighbor