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TV pilots, cable pix shoot close to home

Local feature prod'n down during March

Worries about the war in Iraq and the attendant problems of shooting outside Hollywood have led to booming off-lot production levels in television.

TV production jumped to 1,682 days in March — up 58% from February and 29% higher than March 2002, according to figures released Tuesday by the Entertainment Industry Development Corp.

“We believe that a lot of producers decided it would be a lot easier to shoot TV pilots here,” said EIDC VP Kathleen Milnes. “We’re also seeing a lot of original cable programming being shot here.”

Local feature production declined during March as permitted days totaled 558, down 20% from February and 23% from March 2002. Milnes said the slowdown of activity in Los Angeles was temporary and should pick up during April, May and June.

Features lensing locally include “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “Garfield,” “Johnson Family Vacation,” “The Haunted Mansion” and “Surviving Christmas.”

Local feature production activity plunged in the second half of 2001 and in early 2002, when it hit lows of 256 days in January and 408 days in February. Features had remained above 1,000 days in each of the first six months of 2001 due to stockpiling amid fears that actors and writers would strike.

Commercials activity broke out of a long slump with 706 days in March, well above 587 days for February and 487 days in March 2002. Commercials activity hit a peak of 810 days in January 2001 and production had exceeded 600 days in a month only three times since then.

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