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Mayor Names Tom Sherak L.A. Film Czar

Mayor Eric Garcetti has appointed former president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak as L.A. Film Czar, effective immediately.

Sherak is the high-profile figure that Garcetti promised he would appoint to lobby Sacramento and promote production in Los Angeles.

Tom will lead our campaign for production incentives in Sacramento and is empowered to work across city departments to make L.A. the best possible location for production,” Garcetti said in a statement.

Sherak said, “I look forward to helping Mayor Garcetti stop runaway production, increase state production tax credits and city City Hall red tape.”

Sherak was previously president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and currently is a consultant for Skydance Productions, One Three Media and other entertainment companies. He was a partner at Revolution Films, and consulted for Marvel Studios on films such as “Iron Man.” He served as chairman of the 20th Century Fox Film Group.

Garcetti pledged to take a number of steps to boost production in the city when he was sworn in as mayor on June 30. Calling the flight of production to other states and countries an “emergency,” he said that he would appoint a film czar, to streamline the production process in Los Angeles and perhaps seek expanded production tax incentives in Sacramento.

Garcetti said he wanted a high-profile person to fill the job. Sherak’s experience in the industry certainly will help open doors to studio moguls and filmmakers, but he also will have the tough task of convincing Northern California lawmakers that additional tax support is needed for the industry given so many other competing interests. Although the city has taken steps to try to retain TV drama pilots, Garcetti said that it was the state incentives that make a real difference.

Sherak, whose title will be senior adviser and director, will get at least one staff member in the Entertainment Industry and Production Office. That staffer will be tasked with some of the nuts and bolts problems of production, like smoothing specific permitting problems or disputes between a resident and a production shooting in the neighborhood.

A goal of Garcetti’s search for a film czar was to find a high profile figure in the industry, and a list of more than a dozen names was bandied about, although not all of those on the list were contacted. Among the names on the list were Barry Meyer and Sherry Lansing, according to sources, but neither was approached.

Still to be worked out is how the city production office will work in conjunction with an existing entity that was formed in the 1990s. In an effort to streamline the permitting process, city and county location permits were centralized into one organization, FilmLA, a nonprofit entity.

In the announcement, Garcetti’s office noted that FilmLA reported that Los Angeles has seen “significant declines” in location feature production and TV dramas. Garcetti authored legislation to waive city fees for TV pilots, with the aim of shows choosing to shoot in the city permanently.

In its most recent report, FilmLA said that on-location production increased 8.6% in the second quarter compared to the same period a year earlier. TV dramas were up 29.3%, but still lagged its average over the period of the past five years.

Ted Johnson contributed to this report.

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