UPDATE, 1:13 PM: LA Mayor Eric Garcetti today made official what I exclusively revealed Saturday to Deadline readers: Hollywood heavyweight attorney Ken Ziffren will be the head of the City of LA’s Entertainment Industry and Production office. The card-carrying SAG-AFTRA member Garcetti said that Ziffren will be “a powerful leader in our fight against other states that are taking our jobs, and he will be aggressive about streamlining government so red tape doesn’t contribute to driving production away.” Ziffren takes over from former AMPAS president and studio exec Tom Sherak. who died January 28. See today’s full release below the original story.
Related: R.I.P. Tom Sherak
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, SATURDAY PM: Los Angeles is about to get its second Film Czar. Mayor Eric Garcetti has decided on Ken Ziffren for the job he created last fall and the powerhouse entertainment attorney has accepted the gig, I’ve learned. Ziffren will step into the position vacated by the death of the city’s first Film Czar Tom Sherak. The former AMPAS president and studio exec passed away from cancer on January 28. A formal announcement of Ziffren’s appointment to head the Entertainment Industry and Production office is expected to come from the Mayor’s office early next week, sources tell me.
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As my colleague Dominic Patten was first to report earlier today on Deadline, former Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak has been named to the new post of LA Film Czar by Mayor Eric Garcetti. Sherak will be paid only $1 a year (“an infinity compared to what the Academy paid,” he laughed about his previous nonpaying gig) in the post designed to bring a halt to runaway production and put it back in Los Angeles, capital of the film world. Of course Sherak is no stranger to politics, of a sort: Being a former President of the Motion Picture Academy is no walk in the park. He knows the real “capital” is Sacramento, where he will spend time trying to convince Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers this is an important issue — not only for Los Angeles but California as a whole. In a conversation that turned very personal this afternoon, Sherak told me he initially resisted the job but took it only after a meeting with Garcetti this week and an OK from his oncologist. Sherak has gone public with his 12-year battle against prostate cancer and expects to be up to the task full time in a few weeks after final chemotherapy treatments. He’s even jokes now that he’s the “czar,” does that mean he can pick his own spot for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?
DEADLINE: With everything going on in your personal life right now and your regular paying job as an industry consultant, why take this on?
TOM SHERAK: I resisted it, but I got a call from two of Garcetti’s people saying they’ve vetted me and they want me to meet about this job. So I went to lunch with them, and they said, ‘We’ve talked to the mayor, and he’s approved this and we want you to take it.” And I said I would have to think about it. I went home and I thought about it. And again, I am going through all kinds of stuff with my body, and somebody once said don’t make a decision when your body’s going one way and your head’s going another way. I took another couple of days and said I wanted to meet with the mayor. This past Monday I met with the mayor, and when the hour-and-15-minute conversation was over, if he offered me the Brooklyn Bridge I might have bought it from him. … I told him when it was all done to let me go home and talk to (my wife). I did, and she said, “Take it.” I next called my oncologist, and he said, “Tom, take it; you’re going to be fine.” And that’s what happened. Read More »
BREAKING… The former AMPAS President today was appointed to the new LA Film Czar post by Mayor Eric Garcetti. The announcement of Tom Sherak‘s immediate appointment to the $1 a year position comes close to the 100 day deadline Garcetti gave himself to find someone to lead the effort to halt runaway production and work with the industry soon after being sworn into office in late June. “Tom will lead our campaign for production incentives in Sacramento and is empowered to work across city departments to make L.A. the best possible location for production,” the LA Mayor said in a statement Thursday. The appointment of the former Academy chief and Fox exec comes just hours after Garcetti told delegates at SAG-AFTRA’s national convention that he intended “to make sure we bring production back to LA” at a reception on Wednesday night. “The entertainment industry has a true champion in Mayor Garcetti, and I’m honored to work with him to make sure L.A. is always the entertainment capital of the world,” said Sherak today of the SAG-AFTRA card-carry politician. Having said that, Sherak, who was AMPAS President from 2009 to 2012, will have an uphill battle with getting more money or tax credits out of Sacramento for LA. Gov. Jerry Brown has shown little appetite for increasing the state’s $100 million annual TV/Film tax credit program since signing the latest two-year extension on it back in the summer of 2012. … Read More »