February prod’n at quick pace

Commercial sector slides 16% from January

Strike fever persisted in Los Angeles despite a wet February as off-lot production of film and television remained at brisk levels.

TV production days on public property jumped 9% from January to 1,025 while features increased 3.3% to 1,155 days, according to the Entertainment Industry Development Corp. The numbers are a clear sign that producers have continued stockpiling in order to withstand expected strikes this spring and summer by writers and actors.

Year-to-year comparisons also underscored the growing concern over a work stoppage, with TV activity up 25% from February 2000 and film production up 4%.

EIDC VP Morrie Goldman said recent activity indicates that March and April will be even busier, followed by a subsequent slowdown. Studio execs have said only a few features will start production once the Writers Guild of America’s film-TV contract expires May 2.

The pact for Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists runs out June 30.

In an ominous development, activity in the commercials sector slid significantly in February to 682 days, down 16% from January. Ad production had been recovering following a massive hit last year due to SAG’s six-month strike, but February’s total indicates that the overall economy is slowing, Goldman noted.

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