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Hahn Aide to Head Local Film Agency

March 30, 2004|Jessica Garrison | Times Staff Writer

The board of directors of the Entertainment Industry Development Corp. appointed a new president Monday -- eight months after the former president was indicted on embezzlement charges.

Steve MacDonald, who currently serves as a deputy to Mayor James K. Hahn in the San Fernando Valley, will start his new post April 19.

Officials hope MacDonald can keep film production in Los Angeles by making it easier to shoot here while balancing the concerns of residents who fear their neighborhoods are being transformed into studio back lots.

MacDonald will preside over an agency that has been in turmoil for the past two years.

The EIDC was created in 1995 to streamline the film permitting process and to promote film production in Los Angeles. But in August, its former president, Cody Cluff, was indicted on suspicion of spending $150,000 in public money on visits to strip clubs and other personal expenses.

Los Angeles City Council members have also fielded complaints from residents who said the EIDC was abusing some neighborhoods by handing out so many film permits that daily life was disrupted.

In the wake of Cluff's indictment, city and county officials reorganized the EIDC. They voted to remove elected officials from the board after many admitted that they had never attended meetings and did little to oversee the agency. The politicians were replaced with representatives from the movie industry, labor and business groups, along with neighborhood representatives.

Lisa Rawlins, chairman of the EIDC board and a senior vice president at Warner Bros., said she hoped MacDonald could help set a new course.

She said board members picked MacDonald from a field of 173 candidates in part because they were impressed with his "ability to manage the needs of the city with the needs of the business community" in his work for the Hahn administration.

"He understands government, he will listen and respond to neighborhood concerns and meet the unique needs of the entertainment industry," she said in a statement.

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