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Kevin James Named L.A. Chief Film Liaison

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is naming Kevin James to the post of chief film liaison.

James, who ran for mayor in 2013, is president of the board of public works and will remain in that role as well.

James will be working with Ken Ziffren, the L.A. film czar. James will continue in his post at public works but will be the City Hall point person on film and TV production.

Rajiv Dalal, who has been director of the Mayor’s Office of Film and Television and deputy to film czar Ziffren, is stepping down from his post.

Garcetti credited Dalal with being a key figure in pushing for the expansion of the state’s incentive program as well as in drawing up efforts to streamline city bureaucracy when it comes to film and TV production.

Last month, Garcetti announced the launch of a campaign called Greenlight Hollywood to convince studio decision makers to shoot in the city.

On Wednesday, Garcetti, appearing at a ceremony atop City Hall, also signed an executive directive calling for all departments to appoint a film liaison and to cut red tape. The department liaisons will be required to attend quarterly film task force meetings, as well as making sure that there is cooperation with FilmLA, the city-county permitting office.

Following the successful lobbying effort to expand and extend the state’s film and TV tax incentives, he described the new initiative as the next phase in trying to stem runaway production.

James, a former radio host and entertainment attorney at Lavely & Singer and Greenberg Glusker, said that he will be drawing on experience in the industry as well as in City Hall. He said that he already has met with the heads of city departments.

The film liaison post, he said, will require “the ability to speak the language of the industry, if you will, along with what is the bureaucracy of City Hall, and to try to find ways to be more efficient, more welcoming, easier and cheaper for the productions that we know are going to come.”

Garcetti also announced that he will augment the 2015-16 budget to include increased funding for clerical tasks, after hours operations at the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Fire Department, more efficient sign postings from the Department of Transportation and computerized hiring and permitting systems that will link FilmLA with city departments. The mayor’s office said that the allocations are being made after conducting an analysis with Councilman Paul Krekorian, chairman of the budget committee as well as  an ad hoc committee on film and TV, as well as representatives from entertainment.

In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that more than tripled the size of the film and TV tax credit, to $330 million annually. It also expanded eligibility to include big-budget features and all one-hour drama series.

At the event on Wednesday, Garcetti noted that it was Brown who took some convincing that the tax credits would be worth it.

He said that Brown was “still a skeptic, but he’s our skeptic.”



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