TV drama production fleeing Los Angeles

The Hollywood Sign is seen in Los Angeles, Calif.

Here in Los Angeles, we've got beaches, mountains, palm trees. But what we don't have much of anymore, apparently, are one-hour TV dramas.

There are 23 new hour-long dramas debuting on the broadcast networks this fall. Just two will be shot in L.A. County. The rest have departed for other parts of the country -- part of a troubling trend for the entertainment business that sustains this town.

Kevin Klowden is director of the California Center at the Milken Institute, and he co-wrote the new study called "Fighting Production Flight." Klowden says what's driving TV drama productions away from Los Angeles is not only the pricier costs that come with filming in California, but the fact that other locations around the country now have experienced workers who know how to work on hour-long dramas. "A decade ago, it would have been much harder to film a TV show in New Mexico, in North Carolina, and have the confidence that they'd be able to pull it off over the years."

Klowden says California's tax incentive actually has been doing a good job of keeping many productions filming within the state, but that the incentive doesn't cover hour-long network TV dramas.

"That being said," says Klowden, "If you talk to a number of different people at the studios or the various producers, they'll say they don't need California to be at the same incentive level you might find in Louisiana or in Georgia. They just need it to be enough lower that they feel like they can match the costs instead, by the fact that they don't have to worry about the costs that come from maintaining a remote production."

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.

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