It’s not that often that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the GOP high command get a direct request from Hollywood, but the chaos, losses and wounds of the coronavirus pandemic have created a new normal.
Looking for some significant measures to help the hobbled multi-billion-dollar entertainment industry get back on its feet, the Motion Picture Association, the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the Independent Film & Television Alliance today wrote to top Republicans in Congress, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and leading Democrats.
They are asking for help in the form of insurance required to help the industry recover.
“This letter contains certain recommendations to help our industry resume productions and create jobs,” they wrote in a four-page missive Deadline obtained. The letter was sent Monday, signed by MPAA CEO Charles Rivkin, SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White, IASTE chief Matt Loeb, IFTA Prez & CEO Jean Prewitt and DGA National Executive Director Russell Hollander (read it here).
“Thus, as Congress considers additional legislation to address the serious challenges to our nation’s public health and to help restore our economy, our organizations respectfully request that you adopt the following tax-related and other priorities,” the letter proclaims, asking for relief as a surge in COVID-19 cases imperils plans to restart the industry.
“These policies would help jump start domestic film and television production, encourage hiring, and ameliorate the higher costs that must be undertaken to protect our industry’s workforce,” the studio and Netflix-back lobby group and guilds wrote. Hollywood saw all production halt in mid-March as state, regional and local governments imposed stay-at-home measures to gain some control over the spread of the potentially fatal virus.
The MPAA and guilds are asking for help in the form of tax credit hiring incentives, more write offs for production costs and more tax relief for performers’ work related expenses. “We ask Congress to pass the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act, which will raise the maximum income cap to $100,000 for individual filers and $200,000 for joint filers,” the letter asserts in an update from the current decades old exception scheme.
“The ability of our industry to return to active production, whether on set or on location, is severely compromised by the inability to purchase insurance to cover losses stemming from communicable diseases amongst cast, crew, and others involved in the production,” the letter continues, imploring Speaker Pelosi, Senator McConnell and the respective leadership to push through new relief packages moving their way through Congress now.
“Without it, production – especially independent production – cannot resume on a significant level…We urge Congress to develop a program of federal insurance (or guarantee to fill this gap) to cover pandemic-related business losses in the future.”
Having already given Congress a standing ovation upon the passage of the CARES Act back in late March, it is worth noting that today’s correspondence comes as overall contact talks between the WGA and AMPTP come down to the wire.
Certainly, as a Jeffrey Katzenberg hosted virtual fundraiser for Joe Biden that raised more than $6 million this weekend displays, the GOP can not help but consider the political realities of what is in it for them to give Tinseltown a leg-up. Even as tax incentive rich Georgia opens up and sees production move closer to restarting, the top hubs for the entertainment industry remain California and New York – neither of which are going to be providing too many Republican votes comes November.
On the other hand, as previous COVID-19 relief packages have shown the past few months, there is a bipartisan appetite in DC on some level – and that’s a true Hollywood ending waiting to happen.
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