From National Review:
Mr. Garcetti is the sort of politician who must fill admirers of California—and there is so very much to admire — with a deep sense of hopelessness; he is an L.A. political lifer who is the son of another L.A. political lifer, whose closest encounter with a real job seems to have been a visiting instructorship at the University of Southern California, which is to say he has Mitt Romney’s hereditary insularity and Barack Obama’s curriculum vitae. He has declared a state of emergency over the abandonment of Los Angeles by the film and television industry and proposes to bolster Hollywood’s position with additional financial incentives and — this will surprise nobody — the appointment of a film-and-television czar.
Mr. Garcetti is not the first California politician to be kept up nights by the decline of Hollywood. In 1970, Variety reports, Governor Ronald Reagan hosted a seminar titled “Is Hollywood Through as the Film Capital of the World?” As Variety puts it:
Back then, the industry was coming off a decade of retrenchment following the breakdown of the studio system and revolution in the production process, as corporations sold off backlots, and the realism of the new Hollywood demanded more location shooting not necessarily tied to the Los Angeles region.
But California didn’t lose its dominance. By the late 1990s, however, Canada’s incentives coupled with its favorable exchange rate lured not only feature film shoots but also TV movies and primetime series. The past decade saw a race among states to compete for production dollars and, despite budgets that have often left incentives to the whims of lawmakers, the givebacks have become a regular part of studios’ budget calculations.
Variety gets it slightly wrong here. California did begin to lose its dominance, a process that is continuing, and the most important factor is not the tax incentives offered by the Canadians and others — though those are important — but the original factor that worried Governor Reagan all those years ago: the breakdown of the studio system. The unraveling is simply taking a long time, as these things do.