New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has named Cynthia Lopez as the city’s film czar, Variety has learned.
Lopez will take over immediately as commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting, replacing Katherine Oliver, who stepped down in January with outgoing mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
Lopez will be introduced at a press conference with the mayor in New York on Friday morning.
She is executive vice president and co-exec producer of PBS documentary series “POV.” Lopez joined American Documentary, the nonprofit that produces “POV,” in 2000.
The appointment comes 3½ months after de Blasio took office – a delay long enough to rattle a local film industry that has, over the last dozen years, grown into a $7.1 billion boon to the local economy. With no new film czar immediately in place and a rumored list of candidates that prompted advocacy and opposition from all sides, Gotham film types fretted that de Blasio wouldn’t make the entertainment biz the same economic priority it had been during the Bloomberg administration.
The worst-case scenario, in the eyes of many in the industry, was that New York would eventually face the same runaway production challenges with which L.A. has grappled over the last several years.
Oliver, who held the film czar post since 2002, logged a strong record of industry-boosting initiatives including marketing incentives, education programs and a more efficient system of permit processing. As she was about to leave the job, Oliver accepted a tribute award at last December’s Gotham Independent Awards, presented by Bloomberg.
At the time, Bloomberg talked about how New York had grown welcoming to filmmakers under his tenure. “In 2002, when a movie was produced about my predecessor Rudy Giuliani, it was actually filmed in Montreal,” the former mayor said to a laugh from the crowd. Now all eyes will be on Lopez to see if she can sustain a strong filmmaking business in New York.