UPDATE, 11:54 AM: Time Warner Cable has responded to the suit: “As a major job creator, tax contributor and service provider in the City of Los Angeles, Time Warner Cable is an active and responsible corporate citizen in the City of Los Angeles. We are disappointed the City has chosen to bring this action, which we strongly believe is without merit. It will now be resolved through the legal process.”
PREVIOUS, 11:26 AM: Time Warner Cable is about to learn what happens when City Hall takes you on. L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer said today that he’s going after the cable giant in a nearly $10 million lawsuit (read it here) alleging that TWC has refused to pay fees owed the city since 2011 while at the same time raking in billions in revenue. ”Time Warner pocketed the money from its subscribers and didn’t turn it over to the City of LA,” Feuer said during a press conference this morning downtown. “That money would have funded 100 police officers and miles of sidewalk repair,” he said. The city is demanding Time Warner Cable pay up on $9,697,896 owed – $2,512,490 in 2008 and 2009 franchise and Public, Educational, Government use (PEG) fees, plus $7,185,406 in 2010 and 2011 franchise and PEG fees. Feuer added that the suit, filed this morning in … Read More »
While California Gov. Jerry Brown is still “not committed” to expanding the state’s film and TV tax credit, Los Angeles is seeing another drop in broadcast pilot production to what appears to be an all-time low. Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been doing photo ops with Disney and Marvel execs to celebrate their commitment to film some 60 episodes of Marvel’s four Netflix series and a miniseries in the Big Apple. And now New York, which also lured The Tonight Show franchise away from Los Angeles, has more reasons to celebrate after another very strong pilot performance, returning this year to the top as the most popular drama location and reinforcing its strong position in comedy.
A record 15 broadcast pilots will be filming in New York this year, including 10 — almost a third — of the 34 drama pilot/direct-to-series projects filming within the regular cycle that have set their locations (two remain TBD). That is up from 13 total and eight dramas last year and just shy of the city’s all-time drama record of 11 in 2012. (Keep in mind that the number of NY-based was zero just four years ago, before the state implemented its aggressive tax break program.) New York is chipping away at Los Angeles’ comedy dominance. LA used to own the comedy space, with virtually every pilot filming here. Just two years ago, it housed 100% of the broadcast comedy pilots. The percentage dropped to 89% last year and is at 85% (39 out of 46) this season. New York made a big move in the arena in 2013 after seven years of no major broadcast comedy pilot presence there. A whopping five broadcast half-hour pilots were filmed in the city last year, including straight-to-series The Michael J. Fox Show. Proving that that wasn’t a fluke, New York matched its comedy haul this year with another five pilots, including NBC’s straight-to-series Tooken. Like last year, all five are single-camera. What’s more, a hybrid comedy, How I Met Your Dad, which is filming the pilot in Los Angeles, will move to New York if it goes to pilot. In most cases, the NY location is talent-driven (Irreversible star David Schwimmer, Dead Boss‘ Jane Krakowski, How I Met Your Dad star Greta Gerwig, Lowell and Gaffigan are all based in NY). But studios wouldn’t have been as open to setting shop in New York had the tax incentives not been strong enough to rein in production costs on comedies, especially the expensive single-camera format, which are still higher than a Los Angeles-based half-hour pilot but not by much. One drawback of comedy series filming in New York has been the shortage of writing talent as broadcast shows have to compete with such cable comedies as Louie and Girls, but with New York-based comedy production appearing to be here to stay, more writing talent may relocate there to support them.
Related: Culver Studios To Shutter After Sale; Condos Next?
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Think Mayor Eric Garcetti‘s going to sign this legislation? Hint: He co-authored it. The LA City Council voted unanimously today to approve the final version of a measure aimed at luring more TV pilots to the city. It will waive municipal fees on pilot production, continuing Garcetti’s pro-filming stance that is catnip to his constituency. The move comes week after FilmLA reported that Los Angeles saw more on-location filming for a third consecutive quarter. But attracting more pilots has been a priority for the city, following the June release of FilmLA’s latest TV Pilot Production Report. It noted that, while production was up in terms of dollars spent and filming days, LA has been losing market share — down to 52%, off nearly double digits from 2012. Today’s move by the City Council follows its approval of an unpolished version of the pilot-production fee-waiver measure in February.
Tom Sherak Named As LA Film Czar By Mayor
LA Production Sees Double Digit Rise Over Q1 2012: FilmL.A.
Robert Redford’s Sundance Cinemas will take over the Sunset 5 complex in West Hollywood after Laemmle Theatres was unable to come to terms with the landlord on a new lease. The theater will close at the end of November, the LA Times reported, and will reopen in late spring after undergoing renovations. The venue had been a staple of indie and art movies for 20 years, but the glossy lure of Pacific’s Grove, Arclight Hollywood and the Landmark in West L.A. increasingly siphoned specialized fare away from the Sunset 5. Laemmle president Greg Laemmle conceded “we started seeing fewer and fewer” indie and arty hits because “distributors were under pressure to get into the Arclight.”
It will be interesting to see what Sundance does with its entrance into the Los Angeles market. Its other venues in San Francisco, Houston and Madison, Wis., present alternative programming, lectures and special screening series that tie in with the Sundance Film Festival and related activities. Sony Pictures Classics’ Tom Bernard lamented the departure of Laemmle as “the end of the era. All of our movies eventually went through the Sunset,” But he suggested that ”a face-lift on the theater may attract new audiences and make it a place to be.”
Fans of FX’s Sons of Anarchy who are also subscribers to DirecTV made crystal clear in Deadline comments their feelings about the satcaster threatening to drop FX and other Fox programming November 1 if the two sides failed to reach an agreement on increased carriage fees. Of course they came together in the nick of time on Halloween. Not only is the show important to FX fans, it’s good for L.A. Set in the ficticious Bay Area burg of Charming, SOA is shot all over Los Angeles County — “from Simi Valley to the arts district in downtown Los Angeles” — the LATimes noted in an update on location shooting around the city. Employing 150 crew members, the show’s $2 million-$2.5 million per episode budget adds up to a healthy sum. With location shoots for TV dramas down 20% in the third quarter compared to last year — and production shifting to New York, North Carolina and elsewhere – Sons of Anarchy remains a healthy staple of L.A.’s production economy thanks to FX’s recent renewal for a fifth season of 13 episodes.
The TV networks with NFL rights have been salivating at the thought of putting a pro football team back in the ultra-lucrative Los Angeles market. Today, the Los Angeles City Council has become their new best friend by voting to approve a memorandum of understanding that outlines the financial framework of a $1.2 billion stadium, Farmers Field, to be built in downtown LA to house the first NFL team here in 16 years. The deal between the city and Anschutz Entertainment Group, which would see a 68,000-seat stadium attached to a new wing of the LA Convention Center, still must pass environmental-impact hurdles, but the tentative plan is for AEG to begin construction in 2012 for an opening in September 2016. The Council vote was unanimous today, mostly thanks to amended bond agreements that reduces the amount the city would have to shell out for the convention center upgrade. Last week on ESPN Radio’s local Mason and Ireland Show, former stadium skeptic Councilman Bill Rosendahl said he was on board with the deal but that he didn’t want ground broken on a new stadium if a team hasn’t been lined up yet to play there. AEG president Tim Leiweke has previously said he’s had discussions with the Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings and the San Diego Chargers (always a top candidate to head north thanks to a shaky stadium deal of their own).
On-location filming in Los Angeles grew 1.1% during the second quarter compared with last year, held down in part by a sharp drop in commercials production following a 21-month surge in the category. FilmLA said in its report that TV production days dipped slightly overall in the City of Los Angeles, the unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County and other local jurisdictions, led by losses in the sitcom and reality subcategories. Feature production grew 4%, though LA saw less impact from the California Film & Television Tax Credit program; only five projects receiving credits shot during the quarter, compared with 16 projects a year ago that accounted for 27% of feature production. “We expect to see Features get a boost as a new crop of incentivized projects hits the streets,” FilmLA president Paul Audley said. “Unfortunately, the momentum we carried in television may be gone. A lot of the new shows you’ll see this fall won’t be filming in California. As a result, we’re expecting a lackluster second half of the year for TV.”
UPDATED: New York killed it this pilot season. Not only did the Big Apple go from zero drama pilots being filmed there last year to nine following the August 2010 vote to extend and expand the state’s Film Production Tax Credit Program, it also attracted some of the strongest pilots. Out of the nine hourlong pilots filmed in New York, eight — NBC’s Smash and Prime Suspect, CBS’ Person of Interest, Unforgettable (formerly Rememberer), A Gifted Man (formerly Untitled Susannah Grant), The 2-2 (formerly Rookies) and Ringer and ABC’s Pan Am — went to series, with Ringer moving to CW. Of the 11 shot in Los Angeles, only two, NBC’s Awake (formerly REM) and ABC’s Scandal, were picked up to series. However, when the dust settled after the upfronts, six newly picked up drama series moved production to Los Angeles, including Ringer and Prime Suspect, giving LA a 8-to-6 edge over New York.
While California’s TV tax credit does not apply to new broadcast series (it does to broadcast series filming elsewhere that want to move to LA, which triggered the upcoming relocation of ABC’s Body of Proof from Providence to LA), uncertainty over the future of such credits in other states, including Texas, probably played a part in some moves to LA, including that of ABC’s Good Christian Belles, whose pilot was shot in Dallas. In all, six new series will film in LA after shooting their pilots elsewhere: GCB, ABC’s Revenge and CW’s Hart of Dixie (both moving from North Carolina, where the pilots were filmed), Fox’s Bones spinoff The Finder (from Miami) and Prime Suspect and Ringer (from New York). The reasons for the moves vary from project to project. Both The Finder and Bones are created/exec produced and run by Hart Hanson. To avoid having Hanson shuttling cross-country between LA, where Bones is produced, and Miami, filming of The Finder was brought to Hollywood, giving Hanson better oversight of both shows. Still, because The Finder is set in Miami and the city’s look is an important part of the show, the series’ crew plans several trips to Florida a year, with one day of production on each episode slated to take place in Miami. Read More »
You know how sometimes you try hard to leave work at home — but it follows you wherever you go? That happened to me when I was driving my girls to gymnastics today.
A long line of SUVs and minivans, most of them carrying little ones to JAG Gym in Culver City, formed at 1 PM today when a female police officer blocked off the street. Unlike other parents who looked very puzzled, I had figured out what was going on by the small yellow ”TILDA” sign on National Blvd and the RM/G Media Group logo. (That’s the name of the media conglomerate from the Bill Condon-directed HBO pilot Tilda starring Diane Keaton, which is now shooting in Los Angeles).
But there were no signs that the street had been closed for filming — and yet there we were, sitting in our cars for 10-15 minutes with no explanation. When I asked the officer for one, she yelled that a production “owns the street” and all we could do is sit and wait. Several moms came to me afterwards to ask what happened. Since I’ve been covering the project, I had answers.
After the networks tout their new shows to advertisers during upfront week in pursuit of ad dollars, it’s the TV studios’ turn to plug their new series to international buyers in an effort to recoup the deficits on their newly picked-up shows through international sales. The so-called LA Screenings week, which wrapped today, featured showings of the pilots of all new scripted series, often on a big screen at the studios’ movie theaters, as many or sometimes even more series stars than you could see at the upfronts and as good or even better parties too. (Everyone is still talking about the Warner Bros International TV Distribution carnival-themed gala for 1,500 on Tuesday, which featured trapeze artists and fire breathers.) Read More »
Luke Y Thompson covers the Con for Deadline:
By the time The Simpsons makes a joke about something, you know it’s out there. Last Sunday, when Comic Book Guy was mocked by Lisa for being a fat guy who didn’t conform to the “jolly” stereotype, he responded that nobody could be happy if they knew Comic-Con might move to Anaheim.
Certainly, few in the biz want that to happen either; even Comic-Con’s director of PR, David Glanzer, told me that “We were born in San Diego, we’d really like to stay in San Diego: we just have serious challenges.” But in fact, this talk isn’t new. For several years now, there has been talk of Comic-Con International using Anaheim as a negotiating tactic, feeling that the city of San Diego is taking the convention for granted; the lease expires after 2012. More recently, Los Angeles has stepped up a bid of its own to bring Comic-Con to the L.A. convention center, and comicsbeat.com has done a good job of covering the various offers and counter-offers out there.
Glanzer and others frame the issue as primarily one of space: he cites a waiting list of 400-600 exhibitors who want to get in but can’t, and the fact that 4-day passes for this years show sold out last September. But when pressed on the issue of the city’s appreciation, he replied, “I can’t … Read More »
It’s always been repugnant to me that, despite his years in Hollywood, Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger has done less than zero to stop runaway production or enact incentives to lure TV shows and films back to California and even Los Angeles. (Then again, very little that this piss poor political parvenu has done in the job deserves praise, period.) Clearly, I’m not alone in my lousy opinion of him. Because I’m told that most of the Los Angeles-based crew of the ABC hit show Ugly Betty are placing a full-page ad in Friday’s Variety that begs state and Los Angeles officials to do something to keep productions local. Many in the crew are losing their jobs after Ugly Betty became the first TV series to announce it’s leaving Los Angeles just two weeks after New York passed a bunch of new new tax credits to lure more showbiz productions. A source tells me that several dozen vendors for the series are paying for the ad “because they not only appreciate us and support us, but they are losing business, too.” Yes, the ad is addressed to other officials besides Ah-nuld. And so far there’s been barely a word from LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. But we all know that, in the case of California, the fish stinks from the head. And Schwarzenegger is too busy hanging around a Brentwood coffee cafe every morning enjoying his breakfast to bother with important state business like this. (And it also smells just as bad in the vicinity … Read More »
Regarding the entertainment industry negotiations, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued the following statement today:
“The recent work stoppage within the entertainment industry cost the Los Angeles economy $2.5 billion and caused personal hardship for thousands of Angelenos. As the national economy continues to weaken, there is little doubt that another work stoppage within the industry would have devastating economic effects. During the past week, I have been in communication with SAG, AFTRA, IATSE and studio representatives. I have listened carefully and asked all parties to get to the bargaining table immediately to engage in meaningful negotiations. I urge all involved to get the deals done expeditiously. We must keep this town working, and avoid devastating effects on the workers, businesses, residents and economy of this great City.”
AFTRA released this statement:
“AFTRA has long favored starting negotiations for the primetime TV contract as soon as possible, and we appreciate the Mayor’s support.”
The AMPTP responded soon after:
“We have always wanted to begin negotiations as soon as possible, and we remain committed to starting negotiations immediately. Actors and producers alike have an obligation to work as hard as we can, as soon as we can, to prevent another unnecessary, harmful strike.”
So that means Big media CEOs are cutting Nick Counter out of the process, right?
Well, NBC keeps insisting that it won’t cancel the telecast of Hollywood’s most bogus awards show in spite of the certainty there’ll be WGA picketing and some nominated stars staying home in solidarity with the striking writers. The Peacock confirmed today it will air the 65th annual Golden Globes live from Los Angeles as planned on January 13. Since the show itself is put on by the ethically challenged Hollywood Foreign Press Association, it makes sense that neither that organization nor the network is worried about hurting the ceremony’s credibility because it has none. Still, people watch it because they don’t know any better and NBC likes those high ratings that result from the mixing of TV and movie stars. The WGA has refused to grant the Globes a strike waiver and will position strikers along the sidewalks around the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Frankly, I don’t think it’s possible for Hollywood’s A-list stars to show up without looking like jerks. And NBC won’t want to present pre-taped segments with the celebs, which is what CBS’ Peoples Choice Awards is doing. So I still say, as I’ve been saying all along, that the Globes are screwed.
The Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles will present the West Coast premiere of The Accomplices, the first play written by former New York Times Hollywood correspondent (and my close pal) Bernie Weinraub. Previews begin March 27th, then the play runs April 4th through May 18th. It will also be performed this spring in Coral Gables, Fla. It was previously produced off-Broadway this year by the New Group and nominated for a prestigious Drama Desk Award.
The Los Angeles City Council’s Housing, Community, and Economic Development Committee held a hearing on the economic impact of the Writers Guild of America strike on the local and regional economy, but the AMPTP declined to attend. ”We asked them to testify, and they said they would consider it. But then last night they said no,” an LA City Council source told me. ”We were very disappointed.” Instead, on the AMPTP’s behalf, the Motion Picture Association of America inserted a statement into the record.
I asked why the negotiators for the studios and networks didn’t show (a fact which Variety buried in the 3rd paragraph of its account of the hearing). “MPAA got involved because they rep us before the City Council, and because it was their area of expertise – economic impact,” an insider told me. “The MPAA represents the companies before all levels of government throughout the world. MPAA also provides economic data and information on the motion picture and television business to the public, on behalf of our members. But you are right that no individual from MPAA or AMPTP took part in the actual hearing.”
The WGA, which showed up in force for the 7:30 AM hearing despite pouring rain, issued a statement that the AMPTP’s “refusal shows a callous disregard for the people of Los Angeles. First these companies walked away from the bargaining table, and today … Read More »