UPDATE, 1:13 PM: LA Mayor Eric Garcetti today made official what I exclusively revealed Saturday to Deadline readers: Hollywood heavyweight attorney Ken Ziffren will be the head of the City of LA’s Entertainment Industry and Production office. The card-carrying SAG-AFTRA member Garcetti said that Ziffren will be “a powerful leader in our fight against other states that are taking our jobs, and he will be aggressive about streamlining government so red tape doesn’t contribute to driving production away.” Ziffren takes over from former AMPAS president and studio exec Tom Sherak. who died January 28. See today’s full release below the original story.
Related: R.I.P. Tom Sherak
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, SATURDAY PM: Los Angeles is about to get its second Film Czar. Mayor Eric Garcetti has decided on Ken Ziffren for the job he created last fall and the powerhouse entertainment attorney has accepted the gig, I’ve learned. Ziffren will step into the position vacated by the death of the city’s first Film Czar Tom Sherak. The former AMPAS president and studio exec passed away from cancer on January 28. A formal announcement of Ziffren’s appointment to head the Entertainment Industry and Production office is expected to come from the Mayor’s office early next week, sources tell me.
A far different choice than Sherak to help halt runaway production and bring more filming back to Los Angeles, Ziffren certainly also has the background and chops for the daunting job. A canny behind-the-scenes operator with clients, the founding partner of the Ziffren Brittenham boutique firm was instrumental in bringing all sides to a deal in the Writers’ Strike of 1988, crafting the agreement that saw the Emmys shifting from network to network every year and consulting with the NFL and the DGA among others in contract talks. Among other outside the office duties, Ziffren also serves as Chairman of the Entertainment & Media Law Program at UCLA and teaches there each semester.
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While there will be change at the top, continuity is expected to be the order of the day for the rest of the city’s Entertainment Industry and Production office. It is widely assumed that Deputy Film Czar Rajiv Dalal, who was appointed in late November last year, will continue in his post and the day-to-day running of the office. Appointed as Sherak’s unofficial “consigliere” on November 15, 2013, former MPAA chief Bob Pisano is also expected to continue in his role under Zeffrin’s leadership. The lawyer is going to be hitting the ground running. Just before he died, Sherak presented a plan to the Mayor on how to get and keep more production in L.A. Also, various state politicians are in various stages of moving ahead legislation to increase and evolve California’s heavily criticized $100 million film/TV tax credit program – legislation that could have deep impact in the home of Hollywood.
Official Announcement From Mayor Garcetti On Ken Ziffren Becoming LA’s New Film Crar
LOS ANGELES--Mayor Eric Garcetti today appointed Ken Ziffren to be his chief advisor on motion picture and television production. Ziffren will build on the foundation laid by Tom Sherak to help Mayor Garcetti strengthen our economy and middle class by increasing local production through expanded state incentives and cutting red tape at City Hall.
“Stopping runaway production is about protecting our middle class,” Mayor Garcetti said. “Ken will be a powerful leader in our fight against other states that are taking our jobs, and he will be aggressive about streamlining government so red tape doesn’t contribute to driving production away.”
“This is a critical moment for our industry and our economy,” Ziffren said. “If we don’t fight back now, these jobs are going to be lost for good, and that would be a devastating blow to our middle class. This is about jobs for carpenters, electricians, makeup artists — good jobs that leave enough over at the end of the month to save for retirement, save for the kids’ college, and to spend in our neighborhoods.”
Ziffren brings to Mayor Garcetti’s office deep experience across the entertainment industry and in bringing together disparate parties to achieve common goals. He was key player in resolving a Writer’s Guild strike and has represented the NFL in negotiating network television contracts.
Ziffren is one of the nation’s foremost entertainment lawyers. As founding partner of Ziffren Brittenham, his clients are leading entertainment industry figures and companies. After earning a B.A. from Northwestern he earned his law degree from UCLA, where he was editor-in-chief of the UCLA Law Review. He clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren and is Co-Chairman of the UCLA School of Law Board of Advisors and Chairman of its Entertainment & Media Law Program.
Ziffren will have key support in his work from the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Production, Rajiv Dalal, and former MPAA head Bob Pisano, who will continue as an outside advisor.
Of the 45 big budget feature films of 2012 and 2013, only one was shot exclusively in California, representing a loss of thousands of jobs to other states. From 2005 to 2013, California’s share of the 1-hour TV series market declined from 64% to 28%.
California’s film incentive program, which Ziffren will focus on, is one of the state’s most efficient and proven economic development tools, generating 51,000 jobs and providing $4.5 billion in direct spending since its inception in 2009. Every $100 million in credits results in $792 million in direct spending in California.
Mayor Garcetti’s work to increase local film and television production is a key component to his back to basics agenda, which is focused on boosting L.A.’s economy and improving efficiency and effectiveness at City Hall. Garcetti is a longtime champion for entertainment industry jobs. He recently signed into law legislation he wrote as a Councilmember to waive city fees for television pilots, with the goal of landing full series. Garcetti also spearheaded local tax exemptions for creative professionals and local tax incentives for productions and entertainment companies.
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