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Los Angeles Sees 34% Decline in TV Drama Production since 2007

Los Angeles is in grave danger of losing even more TV drama series because of the limits of the state’s production tax incentive program, a new report asserts.

FilmL.A. disclosed Wednesday that Hollywood has seen a 34% decline in TV dramas shot in Los Angeles since 2006-07 from 73 to 48 currently. Additionally, 13 of those 48 one-hour shows are receiving the state’s production tax credit — which did not exist in 2007.

“In fact, were it not for the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program, 2013/14 would have been the worst year on record since 2006 for total television dramas produced in the state,” the report said. “Since 2006/07, production has fallen more than 52 percent to just 35 drama series this year.”

Adding to the report’s gloomy outlook is the fact that since 2012, 29 one-hour dramas based in California have completed their series runs, including “90210,” “Bunheads,” “Southland,” “True Blood,” “Dexter,” “Mad Men,” “Glee,” “Sons of Anarchy” and “Parenthood.”

“The economic impact of these 29 dramas is/was enormous, and when not replaced by
other locally‐made shows, the sting of their disappearance is keenly felt,” the report said.
“Since the average cost per‐episode for a typical one‐hour drama can range from $2.2‐$5.5 million (or more) for a season that consists of 10‐22 episodes, FilmL.A. estimates that the loss of these series is worth as much as $1.2 billion annually in direct production spending.”

The report noted that six of the series — “Bunheads,” “Torchwood,” “Jane by Design,” “The Wedding Band,” two seasons of “Body of Proof” and five seasons of “Justified” — had received the incentive and generated $398 million in spending in California with 1,198 cast members, 1,058 crew and 24,419 extras.

“Unfortunately, California has been unable to replace these completed dramas with new series fast enough to fill the void,” the report said.

FilmL.A. issued the report as a follow-up to its second-quarter statistics showing a 33% jump in TV production due to a shift in sceheduling with more early summer premieres. The agency reported in June that Los Angeles had lost its leadership in one-hour drama pilot production for the 2013-14 development cycle, which saw New York retain 24 drama projects — a convincing lead over the 19 drama projects retained in Los Angeles.

Legislation to expand California’s production incentive program has been approved by the State Assembly and the State Senate’s governance and finance committee. California’s current program is smaller — at $100 million in tax credits annually — and narrower than those in competing jurisdictions.

The report was issued in conjunction with Variety’s TV Summit at the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City, which included a panel led by FilmL.A. president Paul Audley with a pair of prominent showrunners — Scott Rosenbaum of “Gang Related” and Erica Messer of “Criminal Minds.” The duo touted the multiple benefits of shooting in Los Angeles, even without incentives.

“You have people who are just good at what they do,” Rosenbaum said.

“If you need a crane in an hour in L.A., there are four places you can go,” Messer said. “The infrastructure in L.A. is built for this.”

Messer added that the strength of the infrastructure in Los Angeles makes filming here more cost-effective. “It makes for a happy cast and crew,” she said.

(Pictured: Scott Rosenbaum, Erica Messer)

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