Friday, November 19, 2010

It's in the Bag for Harry

It's another Harry Potter weekend, so every other movie will be in second place or beyond. The series is a miracle, and it came out of one person's imagination. Oh, she may not have imagined how they would trick her movies out with special effects, but I think she must be pleased at the end result. I wonder if she'll write more books, it would be a shame if she hung up her pen, but where would she go from here?

I give her a standing O for creating a robust tale that millions of people have been able to ride to another place where one doesn't worry about a job or putting food on the table. That's what movies are supposed to do, not just entertain, but to take us to another place for a little while.

Having said all that, most of the new releases are from outside the US this weekend. Besides Harry, Made in Dagenham and Heartless were filmed in England; White Material was filmed in Africa. The Next 3 Days with Russell Crowe was filmed in Pittsburgh, but received such low ratings, that you might not want to get sucked in by the trailers on TV.

Pray for a California blockbuster.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Statisticts Were Good This Week

The production days for TV were up 101% over this week last year; even feature films were up 33%. It's true that commercials were down, but the net result of all of those numbers, was a 54% improvement.

Is it a blip? or a trend?

We shall see.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To Strike or Not?

There's an interesting situation brewing right in my back yard. The situation has many layers, and I could go off in one direction or another.

NBC's Biggest Loser (BL)is an important TV show in terms of viewers

BL has been using union (IATSE) workers but does not have a contract with the union itself

BL hasn't been providing health care insurance for these union members they have been employing for years

The cost of health insurance is rising. (I think even Obama admits that the costs are here and now, and the benefits are coming later. Why did they do that, I wonder?)

BL is shot in Calabasis, California that is

Now here's our quandary, nothing is ever black or white is it? But before I go on, let me tell you that both my parents worked in the auto industry and were union members all their lives.The union took care of them, and me too I guess.

The title of this article is To Strike or Not? Maybe I should have called it To Work or Not? It wasn't all that hard for BL to find people to cross the picket line after the show was struck. (Refer to yesterday's article on the rising level of the homeless.) People are desperate. What if the rising cost of health care pushes this show out of Califonia?

Darn, is that a trick question?


Monday, November 15, 2010

How Many Homeless?

I was at 'Mitzvah Day' at Temple Judea in Woodland Hills last week. I was there to represent Susan G. Komen for the Cure to encourage members of the congregation to register for the Race for the Cure at Dodger Stadium next March. Why am I telling you this on a blog about stopping run away production?

Because, at Temple Judea I was situated next to a charity that collects clothing for the homeless, feeds them in a soup kitchen, and provides showers in a mobile shower, all of this in the San Fernando Valley. I know there are large numbers of the homeless in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, but did you know that there are another 10,000 in the Valley? And among them a growing number of women and children? These are not just your perennial homeless addicts, these are people that lost their job, lost their home, and may not even have a car left to sleep in. Think of it, would you want to take a shower in a mobile unit once a week? would your children? Homeless shelters could be scary places for an adult, what must a child think? This is not like camping out. No s'mores over an open fire.

This is the vicious cycle many people can expect. How many of these people are or will be living on the street because a tv show is not being produced here, or a blockbuster movie is not filming here. It is not that difficult to draw a correlation.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Another Idea - Go Brown

Governor-elect Jerry Brown is working on the budget for the State for next year. Now is the time to indoctrinate him before he becomes set in his ways. Yes, I know, he is already set in his ways. The one thing you could always count on with the Governor-elect is that he would stand behind his principles, and he has always been pretty clear on what those principles are (for a politician).

I think it is important to tell him over and over again how important the entertainment industry is to California. I heard Meg Whitman mention the importance of the industry once in the waining days of her campaign, but I don't remember Jerry bringing it up. He's all about cutting the budget, we need to remind him that income is equally relevant.

I want to craft a letter to Jerry Brown outlining our main selling points. How about this: Postcards for the Pictures. On one side the Hollywood sign and his address; on the other side a brief message and space for individuals to tack on a personal message. I'm going to do it. Watch for the link this week.


Friday, November 12, 2010

An Interesting Idea

Jim Horwitz and I met some very bright and knowledgeable gentlemen from Entertainment Partners, an accounting firm that provides payroll services for the film industry as well as consulting on budgets and probably a lot of other things. One of them, Joe Chianese has a reputation for being the industry expert on tax incentive programs all across the country. Without going into all the issues discussed, there was one idea that Joe had that resonated with me. And that was to organize a group of average people affected by the lost of film production in California and descend on Sacramento en masse.

I've been involved in that sort of grass roots lobbying effort as it has been effectively organized by Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Legislative bodies all over the country as well as nationally in Washington DC have been inundated regularly by survivors and supporters of Komen's mission. When a legislator hears from his constituents directly, they will listen. They may not do anything about it, but that's another story. Whether you agree with them or not, the Tea Party has shown that regular people can shake up government.

So, what if we start a grass roots movement and each make an appointment to call on our own congressmen and women? I'll ask Amy Lemish to give us the economic talking points and we can recruit others and visit local offices. We don't even need to go to Sacramento, yet. Let's see what kind of interest we can drum up.

You know, the biggest breast cancer organization in the world was started by one woman.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Met an Amazing Woman

I had an opportunity to attend the COLA awards where location managers for projects that film in California were honored. It was interesting to see the wealth of different locations available to anyone filming In California. And it was also interesting to see how much these location managers like to work in California.

But most interesting to me was the opportunity to meet a fascinating woman, passionate about preserving filming in California, and in a position to do something about it. Amy Lemish is the head of the California Film Commission and has an in depth understanding of the positive effect of keeping filming here and what we have to do to grow that effect.

I'm going to ask her for a letter that we can personalize to send to our new Governor that will pitch the idea of making tax incentives for the entertainment industry permanent. Maybe he will listen and take action, unlike our past tense Governor who signed the current tax incentive legislation, but is criticized for not taking a stronger stance in forwarding the agenda to preserve the industry. In fact, I was at an event on Sunday for Komen and a set builder told me that Arnold is building a studio out of state with Danny Devito. Is that true?