Permitted days for features more than double Sept., 2001

HOLLYWOOD — In a sign that local feature production may be emerging from its long slump, off-lot activity in Los Angeles hit the highest level of the year in September.

Permitted days for features totaled 930, more than double the 428 days in September 2001. Features lensing locally include “Bringing Down the House,” “Bruce Almighty,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “Charlie’s Angels 2,” “Daddy Day Care,” “Envy,” “Freaky Friday,” “Hidalgo,” “The Italian Job” and “S.W.A.T.”

It was the largest figure since June 2001, according to numbers released Thursday by the Entertainment Industry Development Corp. Overall September activity showed the year’s highest total with 2,828 permitted days.

An EIDC exec issued a sunny forecast for the rest of the year.

“We continue to put a lot of work into keeping production in Los Angeles, and it seems to be paying off,” said VP Morrie Goldman. “We expect that level of activity should continue for the rest of the year.”

The EIDC has come under scrutiny since a Sept. 4 raid on its offices as part of a criminal investigation into alleged misuse of public funds. The EIDC contends it is not a public agency, instead serving as a go-between entity to smooth out the permitting process and keep production from leaving the region for less-expensive sites.

Local feature production activity plunged in the second half of 2001 after spiking during the first half over fears that actors and writers would strike.

September’s activity boosted the 2002 total to 5,918 days, but that remained 28% behind the first nine months of 2001, when activity in every month exceeded 1,000 days during the period from January to June.

And TV, too

Off-lot activity for TV was busy in September with 1,281 days, 31% ahead of the September 2001 figure.

Commercials activity remained depressed at 517 days for September, well below the peak of 810 days it reached in January 2001. Shoots for advertising production have generally been in the range of 400-600 days per month since then.

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