Sometimes things appear to be upside down in this town. The city recently cracked down on valet services and instituted a $70 permit fee for some of the poorest workers in Los Angeles — the young, brown schmucks who park your car.
But when it comes to the multibillion-dollar entertainment industry, the moguls who produce television pilots, which employ some of the highest-paid help in the city, are getting a break:
Mayor Eric Garcetti today made a big show of his signing of an ordinance that waives city fees for TV pilots. He did the deed at Raleigh Studios with actor Ron Perlman of Sons of Anarchy and the mayor's entertainment industry czar, Tom Sherak, at his side.
Our economy is my top priority, and the entertainment industry generates more than 500,000 jobs in L.A. Focusing on TV pilots not only supports a key part of the industry, it can lead to long-term dividends if a series gets picked up.
The mayor's office says that the last season in Hollywood has seen 96 local pilots worth 14,400 production jobs, with up to $250,000 a day spent on filming. Film L.A. tells us TV pilot fees and permits amounted to $314,000 in one recent year.
Not a huge number, but enough to hire a cop.
The breaks include the waiving of $100 special event permit application fees and $312 late fees. Perhaps thousands of dollars in additional filming permit fees are being waived as well.
A Film L.A. spokesman told us:
Unfortunately there really is no typical fee. Film L.A.'s application fee excepted, permit fees are activity-dependent, so the total permit price would depend on where a company needs to film and what they need to do there, times the number of days on location.
So what's the evidence that giving a break to one of the wealthiest, most profitable industries in America, a business largely run by megamedia corporations like Fox and Time Warner, will make a difference in our lives?
(Yes, we're aware that smaller, independent producers, sometimes using their mothers' homes as collateral, gamble on pilots and don't always get their money back, but the shows also are often bankrolled by the big boys and girls.)
What's upside down here is that you have a fairly liberal City Council and mayor subscribing to the Reagan-era theory of trickle-down economics, which has largely been debunked by anyone with a pulse.
Give rich people a tax break and they'll give back in the form of jobs? We've been living under George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy since 2001, yet after the Great Recession hit in 2007 and unemployment soared, 95 percent of America's income gains went to our wealthiest 1 percent.
In other words, those breaks don't trickle down.
We understand the appeal of cozying up to one of L.A.'s most important industries, but we're still baffled by the fact that, as we charge minimum-wage workers $70 to park cars, multibillion-dollar corporations will get a free ride.