THIS IS NOT A TEST: In an interview with Variety, newly elected LA mayor Eric "I'm Not a Regular Mayor, I'm a Cool Mayor" Garcetti declared a state of emergency for California—a figurative state of emergency, duh—as film and television productions continue their exodus out of the state in lieu of locations with more favorable tax breaks.
And you all thought those of us in LA just lived a charmed existence of movie stars, poolside parties at the Roosevelt, and perfect weather. We have real problems! Movie problems!
Making good on promises to campaign backers, many of whom are VVIP's in Hollywood (Jimmy Kimmel hosted multiple Garcetti fundraisers; Screen Gems SVP Eric Paquette was his Finance Chairman), Garcetti vowed in his June 30th inaugural address to make runaway production a number one priority. How does he plan to do it? For one: by appointing a Film Czar. The Czar would, theoretically serve as a liaison for filmmakers to cut through the legal red tape at City Hall, and help incentivize studios and networks to keep their business within state limits.
Thanks to recent deep budget cuts, California's incentive program lags far behind other states: New York outpaces California four to one, with its $420 million yearly incentive program. To qualify for the program, productions must have a budget of over $1 million and under $75 million, which has quickly shifted blockbuster films out of state, given that tax breaks can often save productions tens of millions of dollars. California's $100 million incentive pool is further burdened by a cumbersome lottery program: All eligible productions must apply to be considered and tax breaks are handed out to a random selection, which can gum up production budgets as they wait to hear how much money they may or may not get. California's share of national production wages has fallen almost 10 percent from 2004 to 2011, and the 89 percent of television dramas shot in-state in 2005 has been reduced to just 37 percent in 2012.
Garcetti's biggest opposition thus far has been large politically mobile groups, such as the California Teachers Association, which—not incorrectly—finds further tax breaks foolhardy in the face of an already slashed California budget. He also faces opposition from California governor Jerry Brown.
But what they don't know is that Garcetti already has plenty of experience as a Los Angeles mayor: He starred (twice!) as Ramon Quintero on TNT's The Closer. This sort of political navigation within the confines of L.A. City Hall is nothing new to him.