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HomeColumnsUnion Roundup - October 2003

Union Roundup – October 2003

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THE U.S. SENATE: Once again, the august body that sent Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court and shredded a nuclear test ban treaty is taking up the question of runaway production. The bill is being re-introduced by Arkansas’ own “blue dog” Democratic Senator, Blanche Lincoln, in the form of SB 1613, which, like predecessor legislation that never made it to the Oval Office, offers a few tax incentives for smallish, independent productions – in the $10 million range – to stay on the U.S. side of the border, and hire American workers (who are no longer even required to make “all-American” products like Levi jeans).
Bearing out the maxim that the personal is the political, Lincoln’s interest in the issue comes, in part, because her sister is DGA member Mary Lambert. The bill has lots of cosponsors, as it usually does, including California’s own Senate delegates, Mesdames Boxer and Feinstein, Maine’s Senator Olympia Snowe, and others. Whether it has a shot at actually passing and being signed this time is another matter, though supporters feel that there are many more likely tax-related bills hovering on the Senate’s docket that SB 1613 could be attached to.
This is being written just days before the recall election. For the record, Union Roundup sees a scenario where an Arnold victory in the California recall may increase the likelihood of such a bill being signed by the Bush White House. It would give the current President a chance to visit Hollywood in election season – normally Democratic turf – in the presence of a new GOP governor, both of them touting what great things they have done to keep jobs here, by tending to SB 1613’s passage. If Davis – or Bustamante – hang on in Sacramento, it’s more likely that President George’s trademark aloofness will surface on the question of sparing a few jobs for such a godless enterprise as movie-making.
EIDC: “Everything is permitted, nothing is true,” according to the Mick Jagger starrer Performance. L.A. city’s permit-wielding Entertainment Industry Development Corp. is hoping that everything that has been permitted will at least be true enough to honor their word about minimizing impacts on local neighborhoods, sticking to posted filming hours, etc. As EIDC President Lin Parsons, Jr. told Below the Line, Los Angeles has been a virtual backlot for the film/TV biz for 80 years, “and we don’t want to overstay our welcome.”
So, in response to mounting pressure on the City Council from irked neighbors and neighborhoods, the EIDC launched an initiative to promote “on location harmony,” and hopefully, in an attempt to reduce the number of pissed-off locals with blocked driveways and Klieg lights blasting into their bedrooms during the 11 o’clock news, likewise reduce the pressure on said Council to enact local statutes that would further restrict what crews could or couldn’t do when shooting on L.A. streets. Teamsters Local 399 has signed on to the effort, noting that well-informed, community-minded location managers can head off some of those problems before they occur. Likewise, the LAPD is on board so that its off-duty officers who are there overseeing set work will in fact be unafraid to swing into magistrate mode if a crew isn’t hewing to its permit agreements.
EIDC has already met its goal, Parson observes, in reducing “the number of hot spots,” through simple measures such as requiring base camps to be set up – instead of using a neighborhood’s streets for crew parking – and even restricting the number of times the same ‘hood can be revisited by crews during a fixed period. When asked how much resistance he’s getting from the industry regarding the changes, Parsons cheerily notes “none.” The Council is set to take up the issue later in October, however, and the degree of resistance they plan to offer is still unknown.
By Mark London Williams

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