×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

L.A. TV, Film Production Exodus Affects Bizzers: Producer Ronald Colby

Film vet says he saw the flight of production from California coming 20 years ago

Ronald Colby, a vet of films and TV shows like Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Outsiders” and the Ed Zwick/Marshall Herskowitz TV movie “Extreme Close-Up,” says he saw the flight of production from California coming 20 years ago.

In 1992, the Vancouver Economic Development Council invited him for an all-expense-paid tour of British Columbia. The Canadian city was just starting to persuade Hollywood that things could be shot there more cheaply.

Six months later Colby took a meeting with MGM TV topper David Gerber, who had also been sweet-talked by the Vancouver lobby. Gerber wanted to shoot the Wes Craven series “Nightmare Cafe” in Vancouver, convinced it would cut production costs.

Colby wasn’t so sure and argued ferociously that the show could shoot for the same cost in L.A., he recalls. “(Gerber) smacked his cane on the desk and shouted, ‘What’s the matter? You’re afraid of the cold? I’ll buy you a mackinaw. I’m talking bottom line, bottom line, bottom line!’

The pilot and series ended up shooting in Vancouver.

Colby, 69, wishes California would fight more aggressively against runaway production. “I understand studio executives will go where they think they’re getting the best deal,” he says, “but movies and TV generate a tremendous amount of money. Tax incentives in other states prey off the fact that people will bring in money and create a new industry and infrastructure. I find it appalling that we’re letting that slip from our grasp.”

As his production work tapered off, Colby saw his colleagues move to boom towns like New Orleans and Atlanta. He decided to stay put and return to his roots by starting a shingle called Artists Confederacy to produce documentaries. One of them, “Pirates for the Sea,” made it to Telluride and aired on Discovery. “Not that there’s a lot of money in it,” he says, “but if you stay behind, you’ve got to re-invent yourself.

“At least I’m still in the film business.”

More Biz

  • Motown Seeks to Block 'O-Town' Trademark

    Motown Seeks to Block 'O-Town' Trademark

    UPDATED: The boy band O-Town briefly rose to fame in 2000, with a star turn on MTV’s reality series “Making the Band.” But the reformed group has just one obstacle to its efforts to trademark its name: Motown Recordings. The label’s parent company, Universal Music Group, is trying to block the band from registering “O-Town” [...]

  • Alyssa Milano

    Alyssa Milano Settles $10 Million Suit With Former Accountant

    Actress Alyssa Milano has settled a legal battle with her former accountant as the case was on the verge of going to trial. Milano and her husband, agent David Bugliari, filed suit in 2017, alleging that accountant Kenneth Hellie had forged her signature on checks, failed to pay overdue bills and taxes and allowed costs [...]

  • J Balvin ‘Amicably’ Parts Ways With

    J Balvin ‘Amicably’ Parts Ways With Longtime Manager Rebeca Leon

    J Balvin and his longtime manager Rebeca León have “amicably” parted ways, reps for the singer and León confirmed to Variety. The news was first reported by Billboard. León — who also oversees the careers of fast-rising Spanish singer Rosalia as well as Colombian superstar Juanes, with whom she founded Lionfish Entertainment — began managing Balvin early in his career [...]

  • Ann Sarnoff Headshot

    Warner Bros. Taps BBC Studios Americas Chief Ann Sarnoff as CEO (EXCLUSIVE)

    Warner Bros. has tapped BBC Studios Americas president Ann Sarnoff as its new CEO, a surprise pick that is sure to shake up the venerable studio. Sarnoff becomes the first woman to head Warner Bros. in its nearly 100-year history. She was under the radar during WarnerMedia’s search for a successor to lead the studio [...]

  • The Peanut Butter Falcon

    'The Peanut Butter Falcon,' 'For Sama' Win Top Awards at Nantucket Film Festival

    NANTUCKET, Mass. — Adventure drama “The Peanut Butter Falcon” and Syria documentary “For Sama” emerged as the top winners at the 24th annual Nantucket Film Festival. The festival, which concludes today, as ever put the emphasis on screenwriters and emerging talents. Director Paul Downs Colaizzo’s Sundance hit “Brittany Runs a Marathon” had a number of [...]

  • Donald Trump Ari Emanuel

    Ari Emanuel Was Vetted for Trump Administration Role

    Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel was vetted for an unidentified role in the Trump Administration in November 2016, Axios reported on Sunday. Axios received a leak of nearly 100 internal vetting documents from the Trump transition, including reports on Rex Tillerson, Betsy DeVos, Gary Cohn and James Mattis. The researchers scrubbed news clippings, LinkedIn pages, and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content