Julie Menin Named New York City Film Czar

Julie Menin
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Currently commissioner of New York's Department of Consumer Affairs, she will succeed Cynthia Lopez, who stepped down in October.

Julie Menin has been tapped by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to serve as the city’s new film czar, it was announced Tuesday morning.

Menin will serve as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), where she will succeed Cynthia Lopez, who stepped down from the post in October. A press release announcing her appointment pointed out that Menin's hire occurs as the agency expands its work to include more segments of the entertainment industry, including advertising, digital distribution channels and music.

“Julie has shown time and again that she is a highly effective leader who has the skills and passion to get the job done for New Yorkers,” De Blasio said in a statement. “As [Department of Consumer Affairs] Commissioner, Julie saved everyday New Yorkers thousands of dollars, reduced fines on small businesses and spearheaded campaigns to uplift NYC’s residents in all five boroughs. I have the utmost confidence she will bring that same spark and commitment to MOME as it grows its reach in the media and entertainment community.”

Menin added, “I am honored to take on this new role within the de Blasio Administration. We have an unprecedented opportunity to drive economic growth with this new and expanded portfolio — from film to music, TV to advertising — and as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, I look forward to supporting the 130,000 New Yorkers who are employed through this industry and to strengthening the City’s engagement with the media and entertainment sector, which generates almost $9 billion of economic activity in the city each year."

Menin currently serves as Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs, a post to which De Blasio appointed her in 2014, where she oversees a staff of 450 on an annual budget of about $40 million. As Consumer Affairs Commissioner, Menin was instrumental in launching and leading a number of de Blasio's signature projects, including the Paid Sick Leave Law, the Small Business Relief Package and the implementation of his living-wage executive order.

During her tenure, Menin reduced fines on businesses by a third and increased consumer restitution by 70 percent. She also launched New York's first earned income tax incentive, which ultimately returned $260 million in funds to low-income New Yorkers. Menin also launched legal investigations against not-for-profit colleges, debt collectors and other industries.

“Julie’s had a strong track record of success as Consumer Affairs Commissioner, and I am confident that Julie will deepen the City’s ties with this critically important industry by being a creative and collaborative partner, creating new jobs and opportunities for New Yorkers,” Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said of Menin's new role.

A lawyer who has worked in both politics and non-profit work, Menin began her career as a regulatory attorney at Wiley, Rein & Fielding in Washington, D.C., in 1992 before becoming an attorney at Colgate-Palmolive in New York in 1995. Following 9/11, she founded and was president of the non-profit Wall Street Rising, which assisted the revival of lower Manhattan by helping small businesses access grants, insurance and other aid. She also worked with Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro on the launch of the first Tribeca Film Festival in 2002.

Of Menin's appointment as film commissioner, Rosenthal said, "I have had the great pleasure of working with Julie Menin for over 14 years on Tribeca, during her time as a dedicated public servant and leading catalyst in redeveloping Lower Manhattan. Julie has consistently demonstrated a strong understanding of the entertainment industry and citywide community needs, while also focusing on economic development priorities. Julie is creative and solution-driven, and I am confident that under her leadership our industry will continue to innovate, grow and flourish."

Menin's varied résumé includes her own restaurant and catering operation, Vine, in lower Manhattan, which she opened in 1999; a stint as host and co-producer of NBC cable news show Give & Take; and an unsuccessful run for Manhattan Borough President in 2013.

Since Lopez’s departure, First Deputy Commissioner Luis Castro has been serving as acting commissioner.

In addition to supporting and helping to strengthen New York's media and entertainment economy, Menin is expected to reach out to digital content and distribution companies and the advertising industry and broaden the Media and Entertainment Office's engagement with Broadway and off-Broadway theater communities. She will also work to leverage private and public sector real-estate assets to drive continued economic growth.

New York City's filmed entertainment industry now contributes $8.7 billion to the local economy, an increase of more than $1.5 billion or 21 percent since 2011. In addition, full-time equivalent jobs in the industry in New York have grown 10 percent, to 104,000, over the last four years, according to a study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group.

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, MPAA CEO Chris Dodd and other entertainment industry leaders, including the heads of NYC-based production facilities Silvercup and Steiner Studios, all chimed in on Menin's hire.

“Julie Menin is an outstanding choice to lead the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment,” said Moonves. “She appreciates our industry’s needs and communities’ priorities and will be a strong partner with the entire industry to produce more projects and create more jobs in New York.”

Dodd added: “I applaud the selection of Commissioner Menin to head the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment. With her reputation for innovation and collaboration, Commissioner Menin will be a strong partner, and we at the MPAA look forward to working closely with her to strengthen film and television production in New York."

Silvercup president Stuart Match Suna said, "The film and production industry in New York continues to grow and provide good jobs for New Yorkers and revenue for the city and state. Julie Menin has been a tireless advocate for New York City consumers as Commissioner of Consumer Affairs. I have known Julie for many years and I am confident that she will do the same for the film and television industry. Julie is smart, energetic and a doer who gets things done.”

Steiner chairman Douglas C. Steiner said, "Julie Menin is a force of nature. She knows how to get things done, which will be great because this business is growing like topsy. With Julie at the helm, film and television will flourish that much faster and have an even greater economic impact on New York City."

Broadway Stages CEO Gina Argento added, “I would like to congratulate Julie Menin on her appointment as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. Film and television production in New York is now a $8.6 billion industry, an increase of $1.5 billion, or 21 percent since 2011. Commissioner Menin brings valuable experience that will only further enhance this growth. I look forward to working with her and her team to continue to advance film and television in NYC.”

Meanwhile, NBCUniversal executive vp and general counsel Kimberley Harris added, "NBCUniversal looks forward to working with the new commissioner on the many television and film productions we bring to New York that help develop a sustainable production industry, create jobs, support small businesses and encourage tourism."

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