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New documentary captures life of disgraced former Syracuse Mayor Lee Alexander: Matt's Memo

Documentary's theatrical premiere is October 2nd.

The premiere of the bigger than life story of former Syracuse Mayor Lee Alexander is coming to the Palace Theater in the Eastwood section of Syracuse in October. Emmy award winning filmmaker Roger Springfield just announced the debut date of October 2nd for "Million Dollar Mayor".


Watch a clip of the film here.

Springfield's work on this documentary began more than a a decade ago. He interviewed 31 people for the film. They include family and friends of Alexander, but also many journalists who covered his rise and fall over several decades in Syracuse. Springfield is the writer, producer and director. Mary Gelling Merrit is the coordinating producer and Eric McMaster is the Director of Photography.

The producers offered a private sneak preview earlier this summer at the Palace. I attended and watched along with many of those included in the film like John Mannion, Jack Estabrook and Joe Nicolletti. Reporters Jim Kenyon and Bill Carey were also among those in attendance. Current Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner was also there.

The 83 minute film moves swiftly along. Old film, video, photographs and newspaper clippings help tell the story of a dashing mayor who rubbed elbows with President's Nixon and Carter. Alexander suffered several early political defeats before winning a seat on the Syracuse Common Council and then four terms as Syracuse mayor running from 1970 to 1985.

Financial kick backs from businessman looking to win city contracts became part of the Alexander adminstrations operation. One of those businessman ultimately tipped off federal investigators to the practice by declaring the 10 percent kickback to the mayor as a business expense on his income tax form filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

The Alexander documentary has great local interest, but the story also has a national appeal in the way it captures. The New York Times described Alexander in his obituary in 1996: "He had a confrontational style, a penchant for limousines, a concern for image that was unusual for Syracuse and a proclivity for frequent travel that drew criticism. In 1985, perceiving himself as menaced by eroding support and weary of what he called life in the fishbowl, he said that he would not seek a fifth term."

Producers are seeking a national distributor and have also started a crowd funding campaign through Indiegogo to finance the finishing touches and rights fees for the film.

Tickets for the October 2nd premiere are $10. There will be a cash bar. Doors open at 6:30 pm and the film begins at 7:30 pm.

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