The Hollywood film and TV industry told taxpayers that $100 million a year in tax giveaways to keep the business from heading to other states wasn't enough.
And so Sacramento responded by giving one of California's wealthiest industries nearly $1.6 billion of your money over five years, starting in 2015. This despite a finding by the state Legislative Analyst's Office that such “tax incentives” don't really benefit you, the people.
And now we find out the truth: Hollywood hasn't been hurting much at all this year.
FilmLA, the organization that handles film permits for the L.A. area, says the third quarter of 2014 saw local television production increase 31.1 percent compared to the same time frame last year.
There were 5,363 permitted production days in the last quarter, FilmLA said yesterday.
TV drama production was up 43.2 percent, the reality segment was up 49.2 percent, and pilot production was up 40.8 percent, the organization said.
Of course, the spin was that “California’s current film incentive contributed to the local TV Drama numbers” because some of the local shows were recipients. Keep in mind that, during the first quarter of 2014, when TV production was down 9.2 percent, the same incentive was in effect.
Crediting tax giveaways assumes producers weren't bluffing by claiming they were ready to leave if they didn't get our cash. Everybody knows Hollywood producers never lie.
And here's the thing: When the numbers are down, FilmLA says it's because Hollywood's not receiving enough of your cash, and productions are fleeing to states that have bigger tax incentives.
In fact, one of the key arguments for the $330-million-a-year tax giveaway signed last month by Gov. Jerry Brown is that the state's current $100 million in Hollywood bait money isn't enough.
New York gives away $400 million a year! If production isn't up next year, expect to see poor, needy Hollywood moguls begging for more.
FilmLA says third-quarter feature film production was down 4 percent locally, but note that the first quarter of 2014 posted a nearly 25 percent increase.
Maybe the industry was just playing us?
After all, at the same time Hollywood was pleading for your money—in a state with horrific roads, crumbling schools and University of California tuition that has more than tripled since the millennium—it was instructing officials in other states how to scam more money from their own taxpayers.
Yeah, studio executives really care about keeping jobs in L.A.