The pool of candidates for New York City’s next film commissioner is believed to have been narrowed to a handful of likely suspects, with a decision expected by the end of the month as the city’s film industry waits impatiently for new Mayor Bill de Blasio to fill the vacant slot.
Former Independent Film Project topper and Games for Change co-president Michelle Byrd is believed by many in the industry to be the frontrunner, with Julie Menin, the former chair of Community Board 1, also said to be a serious candidate for consideration. Pat Kaufman of the New York State Office for Motion Picture and Television Development and former SAG-AFTRA co-president Roberta Reardon are understood to have expressed interest in the post as well, while some insiders hint that there are other candidates in the running whose names have not yet emerged.
The mayor’s office declined to comment on the selection of the next commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting or on a decision timeline. Reardon was the only prospect to confirm her candidacy to Variety.
The Gotham film biz has been waiting for someone to fill the post since former czar Katherine Oliver exited, following the mayor who appointed her, Michael R. Bloomberg, out the door at the end of his third and final term. As the head of the city’s film commission and of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Oliver logged a strong track record of industry-boosting initiatives including marketing incentives, education programs and the streamlining of permit processing.
The delay in naming the next commissioner — two months and counting since de Blasio took office Jan. 1 — has prompted antsiness in the local film community, some factions of which wonder why they haven’t been consulted in the run-up to the decision.
With a lot on the new mayor’s plate, de Blasio hasn’t yet given the city’s media mavens much of an indication of how his policies on film and television production will differ, if at all, from Bloomberg’s. With a decision on the film czar said to be looming by the end of the month, his choice looks poised to offer the industry its first insights.