Gov. George Deukmejian pledged in a meeting with top film industry leaders Thursday to use his influence to untangle a maze of government regulations that he said are encouraging the state's native industry to go elsewhere.
Emerging from a two-hour, closed-door session at the Sheraton Premiere Hotel in Universal City, Deukmejian decried runaway productions as a threat to California's economy and vowed to do whatever is necessary to "make it easier and therefore a little more encouraging for the industry to do its production here."
Responding to reporters' questions on another issue, the Republican governor struck a defiant stance in the face of accusations by Democratic Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp and others that he is being stubborn in his pursuit of a prison on Los Angeles' Eastside.
Declaring that no one wants a "wishy-washy" governor, Deukmejian said he would not back down from his controversial prison proposal, even though recent developments indicate that little of the land needed for the project would be available without a court fight.
The governor's statements came at the start of a full day of public events that included an appearance with actor-producer Sylvester Stallone in a crowd scene outside Hollywood's Chinese Theatre. Later, the governor addressed a Long Beach business group about his recent trade trip to Japan.
Deukmejian used the evening event to deliver another attack on state school Supt. Bill Honig, who has charged the governor with short-changing public education in his proposed state budget.
In a speech, Deukmejian, without mentioning Honig by name, said: "If you hear someone say that we have cut the budget for education, let me tell you that person isn't telling you the truth."
Despite the wide range of issues he faced on Thursday, Deukmejian seemed intent on keeping the focus on the film industry, which the state has been hosting this week at a two-day seminar.
His meeting with studio executives and representatives of several film crafts unions was not expected to immediately resolve many of the problems that industry leaders believe underlie runaway production and siphon an estimated $1 billion annually from the state's economy.
Moreover, the governor's pledge to help eliminate the tangle of conflicting permit requirements and filming fees in communities all over the state contained few specifics. Still, the meeting gave Deukmejian a chance to forge closer ties to an industry that has stood largely on the sidelines during the first term of his Administration and in his earlier election campaigns.
The motion picture business has always been courted by state legislators and other public officials in part because of its glamour and power, but also because of its ability to raise large amounts of money for political campaigns.
Traditionally, much of the money contributed by entertainment interests has gone to Democrats like Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, Deukmejian's opponent in his last two elections. Last year, for example, the entertainment industry contributed $292,000 to Bradley's unsuccessful campaign.
But Deukmejian, who made strong overtures to the film industry during his most recent campaign, also managed to collect more than $80,000 from entertainment interests, many of them independent producers who feel most strongly about the runaway production issue.
Some crafts union representatives who were not invited to Thursday's meeting expressed concern that the governor may be swayed too much by producers who demand labor concessions as a way of making up for higher costs generated by studio overhead and government red tape.
But Deukmejian refused to get into a dispute between management and labor and described the meeting as balanced and "upbeat."
As for his pledges to the industry group, the governor said he would meet with police and fire officials and representatives of county government all over California. He said he hopes to persuade these agencies to adopt more uniform ways of dealing with film makers.