Runaway prod’n on Arnie’s D.C. agenda

Terminator determined to bring filming back to Calif.

WASHINGTON — In a victory swing through Washington largely devoted to seeking federal assistance to fight wildfires, California governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger took time to push one of his top priorities: curbing runaway production.

During a meeting on Capitol Hill with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Wednesday, Schwarzenegger brought up the myriad economic problems the state faces and expressed his support for recent congressional efforts aimed at keeping film production in the U.S. as a part of the solution.

Schwarzenegger specifically referred to recent progress on a tax bill wending its way through Congress that includes expensing and depreciation benefits for companies that make movies in this country.

“He expressed his concern that so much of the movie industry is fleeing to Canada,” Feinstein told Daily Variety after the meeting. “Something we are all very concerned about.”

Schwarzenegger made the comments during his first post-election face-to-face meeting with Feinstein, who aggressively campaigned against him during the recall. Feinstein insisted bygones were bygones and received the governor-elect graciously.

“What’s past is past. One of the ways that I think we have to go is to turn the page and move on, and now’s the time to solve some of the problems,” she said. “And I will help him in any way I possibly can to do that. It’s that easy.”

During the campaign, Schwarzenegger repeatedly stressed the need to bring the movie business back to California. He has already placed two phone calls to Motion Picture Assn. of America prexy Jack Valenti, one during the short-lived campaign and one after his election.

“He wants to talk to me about increasing industry jobs in California,” Valenti told Daily Variety Wednesday, noting that he planned to see Schwarzenegger at a reception that night and attend his inauguration ceremonies.

Valenti said he’s known Maria Shriver since she was 8 years old, is close friends with her mother and father, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and Sargent Shriver, and has a reservoir of good will for the governor-elect.

“I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people for his invention and innovation,” Valenti said. “Right now he’s underestimated.”

Schwarzenegger had worked on movies produced overseas to save money. But he earned plenty of good will with the showbiz community when he insisted on shooting “Terminator 3” in the Los Angeles area instead of Vancouver.

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