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LOCAL FILMING DAYS CLIMB BUT RIVALS ARE OFFERING INCENTIVES.

Byline: Greg Hernandez Staff Writer

Location shooting on movies and television shows in Los Angeles was strong in 2004 but the region faces challenges in maintaining such a high level of production activity, the Entertainment Industry Development Corporation said Wednesday.

According to the EIDC, location production days for 2004 totaled a record 52,707, representing a 19.2 percent increase over 2003.

EIDC President Steve MacDonald warned that the robust numbers mask the fact that Los Angeles is facing competitive threats from other cities, states and nations offering increasingly aggressive incentives to lure production.

``The entertainment industry is a huge economic giant in our area and we have to be careful that we do what we need to do in order to retain and attract the jobs and revenue,'' MacDonald said.

Production of television shows enjoyed the biggest jump of the four areas measured by the EIDC, which also includes theatrical films, commercials and music videos.

Television rose 26.8 percent to 18,257 days, topping the 10-year average with such high-rated dramas as ``CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,'' ``Desperate Housewives,'' ``ER,'' and ``Without a Trace'' shooting scenes both on location and on local studio lots.

Reality programs including ``Extreme Makeover: Home Edition'' and the upcoming ``The Contender'' led television categories, accounting for a whopping 47.1 percent of the small-screen total. But after peaking in the summer, reality show activity began to steadily dip.

The fall season's biggest hits, ``Housewives'' and ``Lost,'' as well as the current popularity of network dramas in general, could explain the seismic shift since summer, which represented a 32 percent reality-show hike over 2003.

Local television production in general has benefited from the networks' reluctance to rely on repeats and a proliferation of new venues at which to shoot.

``The rise in summer production may well become a new trend,'' MacDonald said. ``Shows such as '24' require shooting virtually year-round to produce more than the standard 22 episodes per season.''

The region's share of feature-film production reversed an eight-year decline by reporting an 18.8 percent increase to 8,707 days. Among the features shot locally were ``Collateral'' starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx, the Clint Eastwood-directed ``Million Dollar Baby'' and the comedy ``Fat Albert.''

But Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., pointed out Wednesday that of all the studio and independent films currently being shot in the United States, 18 of them are in Los Angeles and five others in other parts of the state, 10 are overseas, while 24 of them are in other U.S. locations.

``So many other states including New Mexico, Louisiana, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois are offering incentives,'' Kyser said. ``(Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger) says we should offer incentives, but the bureaucracy says, 'We're broke. We can't afford it.' Just some very superficial analysis we've done says that if you look at tax revenue generated by filming, your incentives would pay for themselves.''

Last month, some studio executives on a panel sponsored by the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce said incentives from other states are becoming increasingly important. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had sought to film its remake of ``The Amityville Horror'' locally last year but ended up going to Illinois due to a tax break that saved the production $1.2 million.

The EIDC's 2004 figures represent the number of days of location shooting in Los Angeles and a handful of other cities, as well as unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, the Angeles National Forest and more than 800 facilities operated by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Greg Hernandez, (818) 713-3758

greg.hernandez(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Camera operator Ryan Green prepares to shoot a scene outside The Bistro Garden restaurant in Studio City for ``40-Year-Old Virgin.''

(2 -- color) Jay Huntoon, left, and other crew members work on a scene while outside The Bistro Garden Restaurant in Studio City.

Evan Yee/Staff Photographer
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 20, 2005
Words:657
Previous Article:BRIEFCASE.
Next Article:AND THE WINNERS ARE ... WOMEN OVER 40.


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