Seeking to inject star power into the hobbled California Film Commission, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has tapped thesps Clint Eastwood and Danny DeVito along with producer Tom Werner as members of the panel’s board.
Schwarzenegger is expected to announce the trio today as appointees to the commission at a noon news conference at the State Capitol in Sacramento.
Event will likely provide Schwarzenegger and the appointees with an opportunity to offer specifics of initiatives to keep filming in California. During his campaign last year to recall then-Gov. Davis, Schwarzenegger asserted he’d support such efforts. But California’s massive deficit has been the focus of most of his time since then.
The 19-year-old commission, headquartered in Hollywood, has been limited since last fall to a bare-bones permitting operation after cutting its 20-person staff by half. The state reduced its 2003-04 budget to $1.2 million, compared with $12 million in 2002-03, with the proviso that operations be limited to overseeing shoots on state property.
That move effectively ended marketing and incentive efforts, including the 3-year-old Film California First program that subsidized fees paid by producers for government services during filming on public property. Under the FCF program, the commission allocated $19 million in rebates to productions as part of its goal to put the brakes on runaway production.
The commission has also been searching for a new director. Karen Constine, director of the commission since 2000, ankled the post in February, leaving the agency in the hands of Jorge Jackson on an interim basis.
Before Davis left office in November, he tapped SAG prexy Melissa Gilbert to serve on the board.
Efforts to pass runaway production legislation in California have usually evaporated in the face of opposition from outside the Los Angeles area. In 2002, Hollywood unions and Davis strongly backed a bill that could have provided as much as $650 million in tax credits to producers, but the legislation died as the Legislature was scrambling to break a two-month deadlock over a $98 billion budget.