Sounding an ambitious tone, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger promised Thursday to put the brakes on runaway production through tax incentives as he introduced a quintet of high-profile appointees to the California Film Commission.
“Until now, no one paid any attention in Washington to the entertainment industry, even though it is such a huge, successful export business,” Schwarzenegger said at a well-attended news conference at the State Capitol in Sacramento. “But people kind of brushed it aside and never took it seriously. Now I will make sure that it is taken seriously, the whole thing, and that there will be tax incentives in the near future.”
Schwarzenegger tapped Danny DeVito, Bill Duke, Clint Eastwood, Tom Werner and Lili Zanuck as new members of the panel. He said he wants the commission — which has seen its annual funding slashed — to be more active in lobbying state and federal lawmakers to establish incentives to keep film production in California.
Schwarzenegger had promised during last fall’s recall campaign against Gov. Gray Davis that he would make efforts to boost showbiz in California. He said Thursday that the film commission appointments and incentive legislation were part of his ongoing efforts to create a more positive business environment in California, such as the deal worked out this week to lower costs of workers’ compensation insurance.
“We want to make sure that Hollywood will become again the kind of booming town that it once was,” Schwarzenegger said. “It adds a lot to our economy.”
The governor said the California entertainment business generated $33.9 billion in revenues last year and employed 250,000 people. “We, of course, want to bring this number from 250,000 to 500,000,” he added.
Schwarzenegger praised DeVito for keeping production of “Be Cool,” the “Get Shorty” sequel, in California. He also said he plans to reward such efforts.
The governor noted that other states and countries have been successful in offering incentives to producers. “So we have to be competitive in that, and it is very important that we do that and that we all work together on that,” he added.
Efforts in recent years to pass such legislation have fallen short in Sacramento and Washington. Producers often contend that the combo of lower costs and incentives from foreign governments forces them to shoot outside California.
Schwarzenegger noted that his last film, “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” was originally set to be shot in Vancouver but was shifted to Los Angeles in 2002 after those involved in the film cut their fees.
“I gave back some of the money,” he said. “Then the stunt department gave back some of the money, various different departments gave back some of the money and said, ‘I think we can do it and we can handle it for less.’ And that made up the $8 million difference that made us be able to stay in Los Angeles rather than to go to Canada with the production.”
The governor also joked that he wanted the appointees to work with him on “Terminator 4” and said DeVito would serve as his stunt double.