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Number of TV Pilots Shot in L.A. Drops 23%

The loss of projects to other cities is costing the area thousands of jobs and millions of dollars, a FilmL.A. study says.

June 02, 2006|Richard Verrier | Times Staff Writer

The number of television pilots shot in the Los Angeles area dropped 23% this year compared with 2005 as New York, Canada and other rivals continued to lure productions away with lucrative tax incentives, according to a survey by FilmL.A. Inc.

In a study to be released today, FilmL.A., a nonprofit corporation that handles film permits for the city and much of the county, concludes that other locales are steadily erod- ing Los Angeles' core television pilot business, costing the area thousands of jobs and as much as $70 million in lost revenue.

"Aggressive incentives from other jurisdictions have succeeded in luring a third of the season's pilots away from L.A.," said Steve MacDonald, president of FilmL.A., which has been pushing for statewide tax incentives to keep film and TV production in California.

Although the overall number of pilots slipped just 3% to 120 during the February-to-May pilot season from 124 a year earlier, Los Angeles' share of that total took a bigger dive. This year, Los Angeles was home to 68% of the pilots, or 81 projects. Last year, it claimed 85%, or 105 projects.

In contrast, New York saw its share of pilots increase to 11 from seven in 2005, including such shows as Fox's "The Wedding Album" and NBC's "30 Rock."

Washington, D.C., played host to three pilots, and Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas each had two. The Canadian provinces combined drew 11 pilots.

In all, 39 of this year's 120 pilots were produced outside of Los Angeles, about twice as many as in 2005, according to the study, which was based on an industrywide survey of production companies.

The concern, said MacDonald, is that as studios shoot more and more pilots outside of Los Angeles, they will have less incentive to produce TV series here as well.

"It's certainly not good news," he said.

FilmL.A. board member Lisa Rawlins, senior vice president of production and studio affairs at Warner Bros., agreed.

"If California doesn't do something to stop television from moving, we're going to see this trend continue," she said.

The survey found that Los Angeles' share of so-called pilot pickups would be down this year from last.

In 2006, Los Angeles will produce 26, or 67%, of 39 new or midseason shows. That compares with 35, or 74%, of 47 picked-up shows in 2005. New York will pick up eight of the new shows this year.

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