Hollywood Whores and Their Political Johns


So, thanks to the magic of being asked to have an opinion about something I hadn't noticed, I can now pass along the alarming news that Hollywood is on the verge of being treated -- by the governments of California, Los Angeles, and the United States -- as just another corporate welfare queen.

In the City, which has a $300 million budget deficit:

[Mayor Jim] Hahn, in the midst of a runoff contest with City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa, has proposed 5 percent reimbursements on below-the-line costs for production companies that shoot at least 75 percent of the production in Los Angeles. The subsidy would top out at $625,000 per production and the city could cap total reimbursements at $15 million in the first year.

For "context," note that the city is spending less than one-third that amount -- $4.5 million -- on filling a handful of its roughly 5 trillion potholes, according to a March Daily News article. "We're going to try and see if we can find some more money for street paving," was Mayor Jinky's quote in that one. While this proposal has as little chance of passing as Hahn has of winning, the City Council last year also gave Hollywood two local tax breaks -- one reducing the rates for small- and medium-sized film productions, the other exempting all business taxes for Hollyweirdos who make only $300,000 a year.

On the federal level, according to Variety,

Last fall's Jobs Creation Act has showbiz provisions allowing indies to write off a movie in a single year if it has a budget of $1 million-$15 million and 75% of that budget is spent in the U.S. The limit increases to $20 million if the movie is made in a low-income area of the U.S.

The U.S. budget deficit is what, $900 trillion? Last but not least deserving of a Razzie Award, there is the outsourcin' Gubernator himself, a man who I once witnessed answer a question on the stump about what he might do for Latinos in California by bragging about all the movies he'd made with the "hardworking people of Mexico." Ahnold is expected to announce his "anti-runaway" proposal any week now, offering even more tax credits from a state government that's $8 billion in the red. This is the swill being served by Bonnie Reiss, Schwarzie's anti-runaway deputy, as told by the Hollywood Reporter:

"It will more than pay for itself -- it will be a profitable investment for taxpayers." […]

"We've really educated (lawmakers) so that they understand that this isn't a corporate giveaway because the big studios and big stars make out exactly as well when they go to Canada or out of the state," Reiss said.

It's important to note that 2004 saw an all-time record for film production in Los Angeles. With the dollar's continued slide, the main (only?) advantage places like Canada can offer has largely melted away. I think I liked Hollywood politicos better when they were talking about the world's poor, instead of trying actively to keep them from getting work.

NEXT: Smoke a Joint in Honor of National DARE Day

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  1. They'll probably say the tax breaks are necessary, because the poor starving Hollywood moguls have lost so much money from Internet downloading.

  2. Atrios had an interesting comment a few days ago - Democratic politicians tend to have the same relationship with their hometown businesses that Republicans have with business in general. Hence, you get stuff like this in California, or the Delaware senators voting for the credic card companies' bankruptcy bill.

  3. Cliff's Notes version of Joe's post: all whores are alike; only the johns differ.

  4. In the tax-goodies-for-corporations game, who are the whores, again? I lose track.

  5. RC-
    They're ALL whores. It's what biologists call a symbiotic relationship.

  6. I personally find that comparing pols and subsidy-seekers to whores is grossly insulting to whores.

  7. Isaac-
    You're right. I apologize. At least a whore only accepts money from willing people, in exchange for services rendered.

  8. Matt Welch: The exchange rate was the best thing Canada had to offer, but hollyweirdos also enjoy the quality pot and the strippers.

  9. Pot and strippers are difficult to find in LA?

  10. "The U.S. budget deficit is what, $900 trillion?"

    Do you have a source for this figure? Typo? Sarcasm?

  11. they are fresher in the great white north

  12. Kooo-ooo-ooo-oooo-Kooo ooo Kooo-Koooo

  13. Sisyphus -- The "what," is your clue....

  14. Do you have a source for this figure? Typo? Sarcasm?

    I believe "hyperbole" would be a more accurate assessment.

    Democratic politicians tend to have the same relationship with their hometown businesses that Republicans have with business in general.

    I don't think there's any difference in the modus operandi or the johns. The Democratic governor here is going to Japan to personally bend over for Toyota. It's not an ideological thing -- people are just desperately afraid of local jobs being lost on their watch, so they'll do anything for companies offering jobs to the area. That's true of Republicans, Democrats, or anyone else who has a flexible opinion about how business and government should interface. The only times the Dems are able to stand up to big business are when big labor has them at knifepoint.

  15. Give sysiphus a break -- he works for the GAO.

  16. Why are the pols so afraid? Has anyone ever lost an election because a plant closed? More to the point, have they ever lost an election because they declined to write checks to local corporate moguls?

    Dallas just punted a chance to stuff money into the pockets of the Dallas Cowboys, so the new stadium is going up in another town. I guarantee you that not one single politico will pay any kind of price for that.

  17. pot is fresher and cheaper in canada, the penalties are less, etc.

    as for strippers... much fewer rules, the strippers are more friendly (not that friendly, but more than the ones in LA). They can be fully nude (no gstring, no pasties)

    and with the dollar's slide, canada ain't cheap

  18. Why doesn't LA just become part of Canada? All problems solved, plus the Canadians would love the warmer climate.

  19. If Hollywood types want readily available pot and "friendly" strippers, San Francisco's a heck of a lot closer than Canada. 🙂

  20. Atrios had an interesting comment a few days ago - Democratic politicians tend to have the same relationship with their hometown businesses that Republicans have with business in general.

    And this is a surprise because....?

  21. Dan,

    SF is the place for pot and strippers. Also, as a San Franciscan and Northern Californian, Canada can have LA. Please, Canada, please take LA!

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