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Does this make sense?


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#1 David Allen Grove

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Posted 09 April 2004 - 01:15 PM

Link to letter/article

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April 5, 2004

The Honorable Diane Watson
125 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-0533

Dear Congresswoman Watson:

The International Cinematographers Guild, IATSE Local 600 is a 6,000 member organization representing the finest cinematographers, camera operators, assistants, publicists and still photographers in the world. We received a draft of your letter to Universal Studios regarding its decision to film ?Cinderella Man? in Canada on Thursday, March 18, and I presented it to our National Executive Officers at our mid-term meeting, Saturday, March 20. Five of the seven officers were able to attend this meeting, and they voted unanimously not to endorse your letter for the following reasons:

First, you did not consult the International office of the IATSE, the Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild or Local 600, etc. prior to presenting it as a fait accompli. For your information, for the past three years these organizations have been part of an industrywide coalition that has worked day and night at all levels of government to level the playing field with foreign governments and to increase motion picture and television jobs throughout the United States. Our coalition?s most recent victory took place when the State of Illinois passed its landmark wage-based tax incentive bill, a bill that is already providing jobs to hundreds of American workers. The states of Louisiana and New Mexico have also developed into flourishing production centers since passing similar, significant legislation. Local 600 hoped that you would have at least given us a call or requested a meeting with the coalition to discuss the wisdom of drafting a letter to one studio about one of its many films.

Second, based on our investigation of ?Cinderella Man,? it is highly unlikely Universal Studios will reconsider its decision, given the approximate $10 million difference between shooting ?Cinderella Man? in Toronto or a comparable United States location. In addition, New York City?s Madison Square Garden, an essential location to this period piece, was not going to be available during the shooting of this film. The most realistic alternative location was Toronto?s Maple Leaf Garden. Our executive officers, therefore, concluded that your letter was, to say the least, a bad choice of targets. Perhaps this is why those who have fought the hardest to pass legislation to increase motion picture and television jobs in the United States ? Congressmen Howard Berman, D-Van Nuys; David Dreier, R-Glendora and Adam Schiff, D-Glendale ? also chose not to sign your letter.

Third, the best way to narrow the cost differential between producing in the United States and in foreign countries is to support the bi-partisan SB 1637 ?Jumpstart Our Business Strength Act? (JOBS). This bill contains important incentives that will create jobs not only for Local 600?s members, but also for hundreds of thousands who work in and/or depend on United States-based production.

Please join us in supporting this important legislation. We look forward to meeting with you, the IATSE, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Miguel Contreras, Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles Federation of Labor to discuss this enormously serious issue.

Sincerely,

George Spiro Dibie, ASC
National President

cc: National Executive Board Members, Local 600
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Why does a congressman have to "Consult" with the unions before sending a letter to Valenti about runaway production? This seems very odd to me.

I realize Valenti and the studios have contracts with the unions but isn't runaway production also affecting NON-Union productions as well? I think her letter, at least, keeps the topic alive and in the press....

Will the government of California really give tax incentives to wealthy producers and studios even though the state is Billions of dollars in debt?
If they do, will the tax incentive they give, be enough to keep production here?
I'm not saying it will or won't.. I'm just asking.


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#2 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 09 April 2004 - 07:59 PM

I agree with you David.

A senator doesn't need to consult a union before he/she does anything. That was VERY mob-like of Local 600 to send that letter to the senator. What does George think, Local 600 runs the economy and has final say over outsourcing and runaway production?

But I'll tell you why I think he did that? Because FTAC supported the letter. The only IATSE local that supports FTAC is the teamsters. SAG and DGA support FTAC.


I don't know, maybe I'm wrong, but there seems to be NO logical reason why our union would contradict and go against ANY attempt to keep jobs in this country. But, it's the "you should of consulted us first" mentality of that letter that was the most disturbing.
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#3 David Allen Grove

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Posted 19 April 2004 - 09:54 AM

Valenti's response...

WASHINGTON -- Motion Picture Assn. of America topper Jack Valenti last week stepped in to try to moderate a bitter spat between a California lawmaker and several Hollywood union execs over the best way to stop studios from filming overseas.

In early April, Rep. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) sent a letter to Valenti urging Universal to cancel plans to shoot the upcoming Russell Crowe film "Cinderella Man" in Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens hockey arena. But the missive broke several showbiz trade org and union lobbying taboos -- especially a long-running policy of avoiding attacks on studios for making business decisions to film in Canada and other foreign countries.

Even before the letter was sent, Watson earned several sharp rebukes from union execs for singling out U and "Cinderella Man" in her effort to protect California showbiz jobs.

In early April, George Spiro Dibie, prexy of the Intl. Cinematographers Guild, took issue with a draft Watson circulated of her letter, which was originally addressed to Universal Studios. In a reply, Dibie complained that Watson had not consulted the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the Directors Guild of America or the Screen Actors Guild "prior to presenting it as a fait accompli."

"For your information, for the past three years these organizations have been part of an industrywide coalition that has worked day and night at all levels of government to level the playing field with foreign governments and to increase motion picture and television jobs through the United States," Dibie said. "[We] hoped that you would have at least given us a call or requested a meeting with the coalition to discuss the wisdom of drafting a letter to one studio about one of its many films."

In the intervening weeks, several of the 39 members of Congress that signed that letter have distanced themselves from it even as Watson, who chairs the bipartisan Congressional Entertainment Caucus, defended her actions.

Watson maintains that she made a "good-faith effort" to consult with showbiz unions such as three IATSE locals and their partners the DGA and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. She also has received 100 letters from various union members expressing their "overwhelming support" for her strong stance.

"The letter was open to consultation and change until we mailed it on April 2," Watson said in a statement prepared late last week.

Valenti's approach

In trademark style, Valenti offered a softer approach than Dibie in his own four-page response letter to Watson, complete with a graph of the growth of this country's production jobs sector since 1972.

"May I offer you a bit of history about the global filmmaking world that Hollywood has lived in for a long time?" he wrote, noting that the number of people employed in U.S. motion picture production has risen from 66,200 in 1972 to 259,200 in 2002.

"There has been no 'outsourcing' of U.S. motion picture jobs," Valenti contended. He also noted that studios choose to film in foreign locales for a variety of reasons: an effort to strike a balance between financial, creative and space availability; security; and other logistical factors. Universal decided to film "Cinderella Man" in Toronto, he said, mainly because a large part of the story takes place in Madison Square Garden circa 1935, a structure that no longer exists; the Maple Leaf Garden is a similar structure built during the same time period.

Lobbying efforts

While the MPAA is not actively involved in lobbying against studio decisions to film overseas, commonly known as runaway production, the DGA, SAG and ASC are particularly upset as the orgs have spent the last year on their latest attempt to convince Congress to give studios tax incentives to make movies in this country and are crossing their fingers that years of lobbying on the issue will pay off this time. A must-pass corporate tax bill, which contains a runaway production provision, is making its way through the Senate. A vote is likely sometime in the next two weeks.

Several union reps said they wished Watson had used her position to support that legislation and urged her to do so.

"Over the past five years, since the DGA along with SAG issued the Monitor Report, the guild has not wavered from our efforts to stem runaway film and television production," the DGA said in a statement. "As part of a national alliance, we have made our top priority the passage of federal and state legislation that will level the playing field and make the U.S. competitive with incentives offered by other countries."
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