Congressman Howard Berman landed at Stage 44 in the NBCUniversal studio lot on Tuesday afternoon as he completed his campaign's three-stop “Accomplishment Tour” across the San Fernando Valley.
“There is nowhere better to talk about jobs,” said California Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, who accompanied Berman on the tour.
The stop at NBCUniversal was designed to be the backdrop for Berman to emphasize the role he has played in keeping entertainment industry jobs in Los Angeles. It came after a stop at Berman Trail at Franklin Canyon Park in Beverly Hills—where Berman and his supporters talked about his role in preserving local open space—and a visit to the rooftop parking lot of the Sherman Oaks Galleria, which overlooks the 405 freeway's expansion project, for which Berman secured federal funding. See other stories on Studio City Patch and Sherman Oaks Patch:
“In L.A. county, hundreds of thousands of jobs are directly related to the entertainment industry,” Berman said at NBCUniversal. “Costumes are made, sets are designed, people are cleaning sets, caterers are serving food. There are ornament makers. There’s all kinds of crafts that are directly tied to whether or not we are shooting films in Los Angeles.”
Joining Berman at NBCUniversal were several members of the entertainment industry, representing the stagehands and behind-the-scenes collaborators, such as Tom Davis of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
“Congressman Berman has been a tireless warrior for our members and he’s always been out in front,” Davis said.
IATSE represents 35,000 stage employees.
“I have people standing here that work in the industry,” Berman said. “I don’t have top industry executives standing here. I have the creators.”
Berman stressed the importance of keeping film production in Los Angeles and the United States, as countries such as Canada offer hefty tax incentives for filming in there.
Berman also mentioned the importance of protecting against digital piracy and the effects that such thievery can have on jobs in the entertainment industry.
“I’ve worked with music people, those in film, and those in video games to make sure their intellectual property is protected,” Berman said. “A current serious threat is digital theft. Foreign rogue websites distribute perfect copies of film and music. If that continues, the future of the industry is dismal.
“There are implications for the entire country and for jobs in the San Fernando Valley,” Berman added. “We have to confront this.”
While the entertainment industry is often looked upon as a glamorous profession, Berman said, most of the work is accomplished behind the scenes, rather than on camera.
Berman pointed to industry strikes as proof.
“Take a look when there is a strike and, all of a sudden, productions grind to a halt, restaurants are empty, huge numbers of people are trying to make due on unemployment, and you see the impact,” Berman said. “You get a little taste of what it would be like everytime there’s a work stoppage.”
“This is not about some famous celebrities and some very wealthy executives,” he added. “This is about basic jobs that pay pretty good wages and allow people to be part of the middle class, and have a massive impact on the economy in Los Angeles.”