Joined by Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman and other Hollywood celebrities at a fund-raiser in Studio City, 5th City Council District candidate Tom Hayden proposed Tuesday that the city take more of a leading role in making sure Los Angeles remains a major entertainment industry hub.
At a star-studded event expected to raise about $20,000 for his campaign, Hayden said his goals go beyond seeking to stem the tide of runaway production. He said he wants to invigorate the city's cultural climate so that it produces new generations of actors, filmmakers, singers, dancers and artists.
Hayden called for an increase in the city Cultural Affairs Department's $12 million budget and an expansion of its role to provide young people with better artistic education and training so they are prepared to enter the entertainment industry in the future.
"I see the creative arts as the heart of L.A.," Hayden said in an interview before the fund-raiser at the Sportsmen's Lodge. "It is not only important to the Los Angeles economy, but it's the soul of the city and what it's known for."
A former state senator, Hayden also said he supports state tax credit programs to keep film and television production in California as long as there is monitoring to make sure it is achieving the intended effect.
"My first hearing in the Legislature 20 years ago was on runaway production," Hayden said. "That's when nobody was talking about it much. Since then we've evolved into a global economy."
He also supported further streamlining of the city film permit process.
"What people complain about is red tape," said Hayden, a front-runner among 11 candidates vying in the April 10 election to represent a council district that extends from Westwood to Van Nuys.
In addition to Beatty and Hoffman, the fund-raiser billed as the "Rally in the Valley" was attended by actors Annette Benning, Ed Asner, Mike Farrell, Alfre Woodard, Ed Begley Jr. and Hustler publisher Larry Flynt.
Beatty said Hayden has made his name as a national figure "but I don't think he's too big for the City Council."
"I've known him for 35 years," Beatty said. "There is not a better public servant around."
Hoffman said he likes that Hayden wants to have more money go to education and youth programs as opposed to paying for the Rampart police scandal.
The film and television industry spent $31 billion in Los Angeles County last year, making it a key economic sector for the area.
As home to many entertainers, writers, directors and film craftspeople, the 5th District has been a hotbed of discontent over the flight of film and television production work to Canada and other locales that offer tax credits and other favorable conditions.
As a result, the problem of runaway production and preserving the city's entertainment industry has become a major issue in the council contest.
Community activist Laura Lake, another 5th District candidate, supports the state providing tax credits to production companies that stay in California.
Candidate Jill Barad said the city itself should also offer tax breaks to firms that film in Los Angeles.
The city can help make Los Angeles more attractive to the film industry by making sure students complete public schools with skills to work in the business, according to Jack Weiss, a former federal prosecutor who is running for the council seat.
Entertainment industry executive Steve Saltzman, also a candidate, said he would explore local tax breaks for the film industry and work with federal legislators to provide national incentives.
Ken Gerston said he would appoint a specialist on his staff to smooth the way for productions in his district.