It’s always been repugnant to me that, despite his years in Hollywood, Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger has done less than zero to stop runaway production or enact incentives to lure TV shows and films back to California and even Los Angeles. (Then again, very little that this piss poor political parvenu has done in the job deserves praise, period.) Clearly, I’m not alone in my lousy opinion of him. Because I’m told that most of the Los Angeles-based crew of the ABC hit show Ugly Betty are placing a full-page ad in Friday’s Variety that begs state and Los Angeles officials to do something to keep productions local. Many in the crew are losing their jobs after Ugly Betty became the first TV series to announce it’s leaving Los Angeles just two weeks after New York passed a bunch of new new tax credits to lure more showbiz productions. A source tells me that several dozen vendors for the series are paying for the ad “because they not only appreciate us and support us, but they are losing business, too.” Yes, the ad is addressed to other officials besides Ah-nuld. And so far there’s been barely a word from LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. But we all know that, in the case of California, the fish stinks from the head. And Schwarzenegger is too busy hanging around a Brentwood coffee cafe every morning enjoying his breakfast to bother with important state business like this. (And it also smells just as bad in the vicinity of IATSE’s Tommy Short, since he’s the buttboy of the studios and networks…) Here is what the ad will say:
To Whom it Should Concern
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Members of the State Senate and State Assembly, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the Los Angeles City Council, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors:
We are writing to you because we just lost our jobs. We are the 300 plus members of the crew of the television show Ugly Betty. We were informed this Tuesday that the production of our show is moving to New York primarily because of the 35% tax incentives being offered by the state of New York. Instead of making good wages and paying our fair share of California state income tax, we will all be collecting Unemployment Benefits. In addition, we will certainly be cutting our spending back to the bone, which will not only cut back our sales tax contributions substantially, but it could end up costing the jobs of the people who provide services and products to us. Not only are these crew positions being lost; all of our local vendors are losing our business.
Our production buys: lumber, paint, wallpaper, cabinets, other building materials, office products, fabric, art supplies, computer equipment, food, beverages, flowers, film, makeup & hair products, wigs, insurance, jewelry, clothing, etc.
Our production rents: lighting equipment, sound equipment, video playback equipment, heavy machinery, office equipment, backdrops, costumes, furniture, scenery, props, soundstages, offices, parking facilities, cars, trucks, storage facilities, computers, camera equipment, grip equipment, editing equipment, drafting equipment, cell phones, computers, toilets, dumpsters, live plants, production trailers, tools, hardware, artwork, walkie talkies, etc.
Our production also uses the services of: dry cleaners, printers, location companies, Special Effects companies, utilities, caterers, payroll services, restaurants, security, Post Production Services, Clearance Houses, etc.
When we shoot on locations around Los Angeles we pay for permits; we pay homeowners & businesses for the use of their property, we hire police and fire department personnel, we pay for facility engineers, etc.
So, while the loss of our individual positions may be insignificant, the loss of this production is staggering. Now multiply this by all the other productions going to New York, New Mexico, Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina and other states with incentives, not to mention Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Eastern Europe, etc. and the cost to the California state economy is monumental. We implore you to do everything in your power to level the playing field and bring our jobs back to California by enacting meaningful incentives to keep film and television production in our state.
The Crew of Ugly Betty