Sunday, May 30, 2010

You Cut

Eric Cantor, the Republican House Minority Whip has started a grass roots effort to cut wasteful spending by our government. Now, what is wasteful to some is necessary to others. So I'm not even going to go there and tell you what I think is wasteful and what is not. In fact, let me tell you right now that I am an Independent, and I like to find my own path through the morass that has become the politics of government on all levels. What I am proud of is that I try to stay informed and get involved.

Whether one is liberal, conservative, or in the middle, I think everyone dislikes waste. After all, don't most of us recycle these days? We recognize that resources are finite, and a careful husbanding of those resources enables us to spend more on what we think is important.

Every week, Cantor lists a series of areas where at least he thinks we should look for savings. He provides some background information as well as an estimate of the savings that might result, should we eliminate/change/adjust - whatever action is called for. He has made a commitment to offer legislation based on the area/action for which most people have voted, and then to report back on the outcome.

I think it could be a wonderful tool if people of all persuasions would vote each week, making it a non-partisan view of what we feel collectively. There is an opportuinity for you to add your own ideas of where to focus our attention if any of the ideas proposed do not appeal. Just Google or Bing 'youcut' and send a message as to what you think they should do, or not do, with our money..

I know this is off message, but I thought it important enough to slip into our conversation.


Friday, May 28, 2010


I met a sound man who operates a boom (overhead microphone on a stick) that is used to capture actor's dialogue. He works on one of my favorite shows, Castle, Mondays at 10:00 PM on ABC.

Castle is a comedy/drama that features a famous novelist Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Det. Kate Beckett (Stana Katic). Castle follows Beckett around and helps her solve grisly murder cases. The ensemble cast works wonderfully well together and I find the writing and acting entertaining. I recommend you give it a chance. And of course, it is filmed in California.

I always like to hear that the actors whose work I admire are nice people. It seems to be difficult to remain 'nice' when one becomes famous. So when the sound man told me the whole cast was easy to work with and genuinely nice, it made me want to support the show even more. I asked him why he thought Castle, based in New York, is filmed right here in LA. He said; "it's cheaper; the producer lives here; it's very easy to use NY stock footage when they need it, and then film everything else here".

So let's line up for Castle. It has wrapped for this season with Det. Kate obviously in love with Castle, and vice versa. You know how those stories end, where neither knows how the other feels? But that's ok, the friction between them is delicious and it's great to see her tie him into knots show after show.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Movies of the Week

This week is all about Shrek Forever After. The green man is a test tube baby and comes from the DreamWorks Animation laboratory which is a California company, so it counts big time in the films we want to support.

Iron Man 2 is still showing, was filmed in California, and is vintage Robert Downey Jr.

The Back Up Plan and Date Night were filmed in Los Angeles and New York, so they get in just under the wire for recommended flics. Both are appealing to women, and I'd go to anything with Tina Fey. She's my girl.

MacGruber, Letters to Juliet, Robin Hood. All made elsewhere. Of the three, MacGruber is the only one that has no excuse; the other two, I get why they were shot in Italy and London respectively.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Not a Fan of Antonio, But....

It's difficult to know how well a public official is doing his or her job. Our attitudes are largely shaped by the media and political ads. So when I see the Mayor and the City Council being effective when a large majority of the public thinks they are useless dirt bags, I think something is wrong with the assessment process. Recently a document came across my desk that talked about specific actions that our local government is working on to make it easier to film in LA.

Everything from creating power nodes for productions in highly filmed locations; to providing free or low cost parking at city-owned lots; to creating a smoother film permitting process; to reducing the bureaucracy associated with dealing with City departments. In addition, the Council approved a 4 year extension on fee waivers for most City facilities.

But maybe the most exciting piece of information I learned is that FilmLA is putting together a marketing plan for promoting LA as the best place to film. I've asked to be a fly on the wall when they give their marketing presentation. I'll let you know how that goes.

Now a bit of not so good news. You remember Captain America? The super hero who saved us from the Nazi threat? Well, not only is Marvel's new Captain America film not being filmed in California, it is not even being filmed in this country. Huh? The State of California, who wisely created $500 million in tax incentives for films made in California, unwisely limited the opportunity to films with a budget of $75 million or less. I guess I understand why they did that, but it is a sad day when Captain America is being filmed in London because they were able to give them a nice chunk of incentives.

Anyway, cudos to Mayor Antonio, the City Council, and FilmLA. Keep doing what you're doing for film production, just do it faster.


Saturday, May 15, 2010


Law & Order became a groundbreaking, procedural TV series, prolific in creating talented progeny that shaped our viewing habits. It was a predictable pleasure when all else failed; you could watch, knowing you would be entertained and never disappointed.

For 20 years it was a gift to the NY City economy. As Mayor Bloomberg said recently, L & O came to New York when there were almost no other TV series shot there. Now they have 150 other TV shows that film there regularly. Hmmm - 200 to 300 jobs per show; 30,000 to 45,000 jobs! Would they all have shot here in California? Maybe. We'll never know.

Now we have a second chance because Dick Wolf, master of all that is plot worthy, is going to bring L & O home to California in the form of Law & Order LA (LOLA). The Filmed in California Committee, consisting of Jim, Dave and I, have already reached out to Mr. Wolfe's office to let him know that we are here for him. Dave has contacts, Jim works for City Councilman Rosendahl, and I have this tremendous following that is waiting to view LOLA. (Well, by the time the show airs, I'm sure I will have more than family and friends following this blog.)


Friday, May 14, 2010

The Plot Thickens

I'm a lonely voice crying in the wilderness. Or maybe it's more like trying to carry sand on a fork in a windstorm. Blogging makes me feel like I'm doing something, even if few people are paying attention. Much more effective in this crusade to stop runaway film production is what the State of California is doing and what other states are failing to do.

A couple of years ago, California State Senator Ron Calderon initiated legislation in Sacramento to provide $500 million in tax incentives over a five year period for TV/film projects filmed in California. So far $200 million in tax credits have been applied for and resulted in tax revenues of $400 million going back into the state coffers. I'm a retailer, and that's called 'keystoning', when you spend $2 to make $4 in sales. That's good business, right? Like the little orphan boy in a Dicken's novel. "More, please sir."

Calderon is trying to get the remaining $300 million released early. This has created some consternation among some because they don't think we will ever get additional tax incentives. And when the $500 million is gone, there won't be 'seconds'. But we need the jobs desperately now, and why wouldn't the state approve more incentives when they're getting much more than their original investment returned to them in the way of tax revenues? We need to mount a huge effort to educate voters that all of California will benefit if these incentives are available. That's why I'm supporting the Bring Hollywood Home Foundation whose mission is to educate voters on this very information.

There was a recent symposium held for producers to learn how to take advantage of tax credits offered by the various states vying for this business (our business). One speaker quoted a study by an economist from the University of Rhode Island, claiming that California's tax incentive program generated $8 in economic activity for every $1 invested. I'd love that ROI.

Another bit of good news; Michigan who has been drinking our milk shake has been disqualifying some expenses that film makers filming in that state were depending on. So, it's not always greener, and some producers are learning that fact the hard way. Other states like Iowa and New Jersey are pulling back because they are not finding the gold at the end of the movie rainbow. I am worried about Florida however, they are the next contender with a new $242 million film tax credit program.

In the meantime, watch The Closer, Monday nights at 9:00 PM on TNT; it's quirky fun, fast paced and has the golden girl Kyra Sedgwick as the lead. And of course, it's filmed right here.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jim and Dave

I met with two people that have the contacts, experience and skills and most importantly the passion to actually make a difference in the fight to stop run away film production. Jim Horwitz works for LA City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who is a friend to the film industry, and Dave Berthiaume, a man who has worn many hats in his lifetime, but the role of location manager makes him an invaluable part of our budding alliance.

Jim and Dave liked the idea of this blog and would like it to become a focal point for rallying film industry insiders and outsiders to work together to promote and support TV/movie/commercials filmed in California. We reviewed LA City Councilman Alarcon's initial list of action items to make it easier/less expensive to film here in LA County. Councilman Alarcon, who is focusing on job creation, understands the magnitude of jobs that can be created through the film industry. Dave Berthiaume pointed out that an average TV series will shoot for 9 months and employ 200 - 300 people! I did not know that.

In a later article I will go into detail on the action item's on Alarcon's list and give you a status update on where we are and what has been actually accomplished by the City to make it more attractive to film locally. And here you thought the City Council wasn't looking out for us. Hmmm.

By the way, my grandson and I enjoyed Ironman 2. I'm surprised that LA is still standing after all the pyrotechnics. Or are you going to tell me that it was all staged. Whatever. At least it was staged here in California. And Robert Downey Jr. is a wonderful talent and a natural comic.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I Had a Birthday

Over the weekend, my dear husband and my children threw me the best birthday celebration I have had since I was twelve. I have been so truly blessed to have wonderful people to love. In hard times we forget the value of love. And for many people the times are very hard.

Tonight I am having dinner with two men: one works for a city councilman; the other is a retired location manager. I'll let you know tomorrow what bright ideas we come up with to stem the loss of jobs in the film industry. I am committed to taking action, and educating my neighbors on why this issue is important. I have been witness to the magical impact of a single passionate person to effect change and make a difference.

The movie of the week is Iron Man 2. Go see it, it was filmed here in California. I'm going to take my grandson, Ryan, and we are going to have a wonderful time.