Some Good News (Finally) for the Guilds?

At a Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors panel on Feb. 25, two TV movie executives — Sony Pictures Television exec VP Helen Verno and Hallmark Channel original programming senior VP Barbara Fisher — both said that their companies were looking at the feasibility of doing some more home-grown production due to California’s new tax-incentive program.

Runaway production has sent most of the TV-movie biz migrate to faraway locales, especially Canada, reducing work opportunities for below-the-line personnel as well as supporting and background actors. The tax credit would commit $100 million a year to try luring production to California and away from other countries and states like New Mexico, Louisiana and Michigan that have aggressively courted the industry.

TV movies alone wouldn’t be enough to offset what’s already been lost, but with local feature film production at a low point since those figures began being monitored by Film LA in 1993, any infusion of work into the region would certainly be a welcome boon to the local economy. The only real growth area has been reality TV, and renting out a mansion for a dating show doesn’t exactly provide much of a boost compared to dramatic fare.

*  *  *

In an unrelated aside, Fisher also had a very funny line at the caucus panel, referring to the parade of older performers that have traditionally starred in Hallmark’s family-oriented movies — including 92-year-old Ernest Borgnine, who played the lead in the 2007 movie “A Grandpa for Christmas.”

In contrast to the youth movement that’s prevalent elsewhere and the preoccupation with the adults 18-49 demographic, she quipped, “If we get somebody 55, we go, ‘Woo, we’ve got a youngster in our movie!”

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