L.A. Film Czar to Create ‘Informal’ Industry Committee on Runaway Production

Tom Sherak wil work with about 15 execs to combat problem.

Tom Sherak, the city of Los Angeles’ new “film czar,” said that he will gather a group of about 15 industry executives and workers to help create a strategic plan to address runaway production.

Sherak, speaking at an event on Friday at Raleigh Studios where Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a measure to waive city fees for TV pilots, said that he plans to announce a point person who will help him gather those on the committee. That point person — who Sherak, somewhat humorously, said would be his “consigliere” — will be in addition to the deputy in his City Hall office who has yet to be chosen.

Sherak said the goal is to deliver the strategic plan to Garcetti around the New Year.

Garcetti, meanwhile, used the signing ceremony to signal that he would work on a number of measures to ease production headaches. But the biggest challenge may be convincing Sacramento lawmakers to expand the state incentive program. Although a number of lawmakers are working on legislation to do just that, what remains to be seen is whether Gov. Jerry Brown will support such an expansion. Garcetti said that he has talked to him three or four times about it but he remains “somewhat skeptical but I think we can make the case to the governor that this is really critical.”

The measure to waive fees for TV pilots does not represent a huge break for productions — for the city it represents a total of several hundred thousand dollars in tax revenue per year — but Garcetti said that he also would like to waive fees for shows that agree to stay in Los Angeles for their first season.

“We want to be clear that this is a first step,” Garcetti said, adding that it is a “significant one” given that they also are talking about other departments about waiving fees, including the Los Angeles Police Department. A waiver of their fees still has to be approved by the police commission.

“I talk to a lot of producers who say it does make a difference, that these city fees do add up and that it would give [them] enough of an argument, combined with the great talent that is here and everything else, to really keep pilots here,” he said.

Garcetti also said that he has been meeting with industry “decision makers” and saying “You live here, you work here, these are the people you know. Keep something here.” “It is going to be a combination of incentives and good old fashioned Jewish guilt,” Garcetti quipped.

“We are open to just about everything, and we are determined to show Sacramento that we are not just asking them to do things, but we are also going to do things ourselves,” he said.

Sherak, who has been undergoing cancer treatments, said that he expects to be in his City Hall office the first week of November. He said that he wanted the committee to be made up of a “very broad base” from the industry. “The major concern for me is to get somebody on this committee who is committed to keeping jobs here,” he said.

At the event at Raleigh Studios, Garcetti was joined by a number of political figures, including Councilman Paul Krekorian, who co-authored the TV pilot measure, as well as Councilman Curren Price. Actor Ron Perlman, star of “Sons of Anarchy,” which shoots largely in Los Angeles, and director Dean Devlin, Sony’s Eric Paquette, Paramount’s Adam Goodman and producer Hawk Koch also were among those present, along with Ed Duffy from Teamsters Local 399 and John Acosta from Musicians Local 47.

Photo: Mayor Eric Garcetti signs ordinance waiving fees for TV pilots. With him are Tom Sherak (in Dodgers cap), Councilman Curren Price and Councilman Paul Krekorian.

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