Katrina curbs Hollywood's love of La. - East Valley Tribune: Hurricanekatrina

Katrina curbs Hollywood's love of La.

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Posted: Thursday, September 1, 2005 5:05 pm | Updated: 8:07 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

LOS ANGELES - Hurricane Katrina already has forced some Hollywood productions to film elsewhere, and its devastation has decimated the progress Louisiana was making in luring filmmakers to the state with generous tax incentives.

"Louisiana had been on a roll, but they literally came to a crashing halt," said Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. "New Orleans is not going to be a good location for filming, probably for several years."

The cast and crew of the Warner Bros. film "The Reaping," including its star Hilary Swank, were evacuated by plane from Baton Rouge before the storm made landfall. The film is set to resume production early next week, the studio said.

The future of two films set to start shooting in New Orleans in the next two months is less certain.

Walt Disney Studios is still hopeful that the Jerry Bruckheimer film "Deja Vu," and "The Guardian," starring Kevin Costner, can shoot in the city. "Deja Vu" was scheduled to start filming in November. "The Guardian," scheduled to start production next month, has been delayed.

"At this point, it's too early to tell," said studio spokeswoman Heidi Trotta.

Katrina has indefinitely delayed filming for a new FX cable TV series that was set to start airing next spring. "Thief," a one-hour drama starring Andre Braugher ("Homicide: Life on the Street") and set in New Orleans, was to be shot in the city.

The pilot was done a year ago, and production on the first season's five additional episodes was scheduled to begin Sept. 28.

"We're on hold," FX spokesman John Solberg said Thursday.

Louisiana's tax incentives took effect in July 2002 and offered a 15 percent tax credit on the cost of productions valued at $8 million or more. The tax credits were expanded to cover construction of infrastructure like proposed studios.

Since the tax incentives have been available, numerous films have been shot in the state, including "Ray," "The Skeleton Key" and "The Dukes of Hazzard."

In 2004, the state racked up an estimated $377 million in film production.

Earlier this month, Sunset-Gower Studios announced plans to build a $20 million studio on the banks of the Mississippi River in New Orleans to accommodate film and TV production. Plans include an outdoor movie set designed to look like the French Quarter.

It's unclear if those plans will be placed on hold or even scrapped in Katrina's wake. The studio did not immediately return a call for comment and Louisiana film commission representatives could not be reached.

But despite the destruction, some think the movie industry eventually will return.

"The film industry is one of the most resilient industries ever," said Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office. "I would think Hollywood will come back. In the meantime, I would hope the film industry would be helpful and supportive to the people of Louisiana given how supportive Louisiana has been to the film industry and I think they will be."

Already, several entertainment companies have announced plans to donate money and supplies to the relief effort. The Walt Disney Co. said it will donate $2.5 million. And TV networks plan a series of fundraising telethons.

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