In LA, TV now completely dark

Local feature production amped up as result

The writers strike has brought scripted TV production in Los Angeles to a halt, while fears of an actors strike have amped up local feature production.

All 52 skeins in active production before the scribes walkout began in November are dark, according to permitting agency Film LA. And fourth-quarter stats, released Friday, show declines of 37% in sitcoms to 419 days and 6% in scripted dramas to 1,733; meanwhile reality TV activity jumped 34% to 2,478 days.

Local feature production, however, is on the rise with a 31% gain over the same period last year since the strike began on Nov. 5, according to Film LA.

“While reality TV bolstered overall television production numbers, the rise in reality production does not generate the same benefit to the local economy as an increase in scripted television production, since reality-based productions usually employ fewer people and pump far less money into the economy through production-related spending,” said agency chief Steve MacDonald.

Los Angeles-based TV production has soared in recent years, thanks partly to the boom in reality and the growth of cable. The past five quarters have all seen well over 5,000 permit days of off-lot production, with a record 6,478 days in the first quarter of this year.

But with the strike leading to production shutdowns as shows began running out of scripts, overall TV production declined from 5,950 days in the third quarter to 5,500 days in the fourth.

As for features, MacDonald noted, activity has been driven by this year’s ramped-up pace of greenlighting in anticipation of a possible actors strike in July. But that’s still not been enough to prevent year-to-year declines with overall 2007 days falling 4% to 8,247.

“The 2007 data is in line with the decade-long downward trend in local feature film production that has occurred as other locales lure production with attractive economic incentives,” MacDonald said.

The final scripted TV production in Los Angeles closed down earlier this month with ABC’s “October Road” stopping production. A total of 62 skeins have been shuttered due to the strike, with a direct economic impact of $160 million per week.

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