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HEARD ON THE BEAT / CORPORATE

County Gets Leading Role in TV Auto Commercials

September 23, 1997|John O'Dell | John O'Dell covers major Orange County corporations and manufacturing for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5831 and at john.odell@latimes.com

Despite traffic congestion that can turn 10-mile commutes into 90-minute endurance marathons, Orange County is a favored place for ad agencies to shoot commercials for their auto maker clients.

In the first six months of the year, the county film commission reports, commercials were filmed in locales as varied as Laguna Beach and Mile Square Park for more than a dozen car companies.

The alphabetical list: Acura, Alfa Romeo, Buick, BMW, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Infiniti, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Oldsmobile and Volvo.

Other transportation-related companies shooting commercials in the county were Alamo Rental Cars and National Car Rental.

The film commission, a unit of the Orange County Business Council, promotes Orange County's charms to filmmakers and helps them wend their way through the bureaucracies for the requisite permits.

Its half-year report says there were 119 individual film, television, video and still photography productions in the county through June. They pumped almost $4 million into the economy, about 2 1/2 times the total spending logged in the first half of 1996, the commission said.

A commercial or feature film was being shot somewhere in the county virtually all the time from January through June, the commission reports, with a total of 224 filming days logged in the six months. (When more than one crew is shooting on the same day, it counts as multiple filming days.)

For the curious, feature TV productions that used Orange County locales during the first half included "The George Wallace Story" for HBO, the "Vital Signs" pilot that aired on ABC in the spring, and Spelling Entertainment's daytime soap opera "Sunset Beach," which uses Orange County's own Seal Beach--next door to the real Sunset Beach--as a locale.

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