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Spots washing out

H'wood off-lot prod'n steady as ad days dip

Off-lot feature production activity in Hollywood remained at steady if not spectacular levels during June, figures released Tuesday showed. But commercials shoots are off significantly.

Permitted feature production totaled 629 days, up five days from May and 15 days from June 2002, according to figures released Friday by the Entertainment Industry Development Corp.

Features currently lensing locally include “Anchor Man,” “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “Cinderella Story,” “Criminal,” “Employee of the Month,” “First Daughter,” “I Love Huckabees,” “Spider-Man 2” and “Starsky & Hutch.” Feature activity has remained in a narrow range except for a dip in April amidst the war against Iraq.

Pic optimism

For the first six months of this year, feature production has totaled 3,499 days, or 20 days behind the same period of 2002. Those figures, however, are barely half the 6,952 days logged during the first six months of 2001 when studios scrambled to stockpile product amid fears that actors and writers would strike.

EIDC VP Daryl Seif said the current level of feature activity is spurring optimism that the momentum can be maintained for the rest of the year.

With many shows on summer hiatus, June TV production hit the lowest level of the year with 721 days. But Seif noted that figure was also 15% ahead of June 2002 due to the ongoing growth of cable and nontraditional production.

Commercials flee L.A.

By far the most negative aspect of the report showed June commercials activity staying in the doldrums with only 282 days. That was two days under May’s figure, which was far below April’s 475 days and March’s 706 days as producers opted for locations with lower costs than Hollywood.

“The Los Angeles numbers for May and June are seriously low,” said Steve Caplan, head of the Assn. of Independent Commercial Producers in Los Angeles. “Amid a difficult economy, there’s obviously going to be a lot of competition for shoots.”

Commercials activity hit a peak of 810 days in January 2001 in the aftermath of a six-month strike against the ad industry by SAG and AFTRA, and Los Angeles production has exceeded 600 days in a month only three times since then. The unions are scheduled to begin bargaining on a new commercials contract in early September.

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