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.