NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Pens Open Letter to Hollywood (Guest Column)
This story first appeared in the May 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
[UPDATE: Since this essay was published in print, de Blasio has chosen Cynthia Lopez as the city's new film commissioner.]
As acting debuts go, mine went pretty smoothly. It was on The Good Wife, one of my favorite shows, and I was playing an over-the-top version of myself. In between takes -- and I'm proud to note that I only needed three -- I marveled at the crew as they bustled around me, doing a hundred different things in unison. From the camera crew to the makeup artists to the caterer, so many skilled professionals contributed to my brief moment in the spotlight.
My peek behind the scenes reinforced something I've always believed: The TV and film industry is central not just to New York's cultural vitality, but to our economic strength as well.
The numbers are truly astounding: Every year, an average of 200 films are shot in New York City. For the 2013-14 TV season, 29 series are based here, and that's not counting the late-night shows, talk shows, reality series and news programs. All told, some 130,000 New Yorkers earn their living by working behind the scenes in film and TV production.
This is an especially remarkable achievement given where we were 10 years ago. Since 2004, Hollywood's financial imprint on our city has grown from $5 billion to $7.1 billion. My administration will maintain the policies and practices that spurred this expansion while strategically investing in new projects to grow and diversify the industry. For instance, we will:
Create a Top-Flight Film and Digital Media Education Hub in Brooklyn.
The City is working with Carnegie Mellon University and Brooklyn College to develop cutting-edge education opportunities at the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard. Carnegie Mellon is teaming up with Steiner Studios to create a graduate program that will fuse coursework in the humanities and sciences with the latest digital technology. Brooklyn College is in the process of developing a Graduate School of Cinema that will focus on film, postproduction and animation.
Train Top-Notch Crew Through the "Made in NY" Production Assistant Training Program.
New York City's famous energy, which has played a lead role in so many of our favorite movies and TV shows, has everything to do with our diversity. The "Made in NY" training program provides unemployed, low-income New Yorkers with training and job opportunities as production assistants -- so the scene behind the camera is just as diverse as the one in front of it.
Showcase the Wide Variety of Locations in All Five Boroughs.
From Do the Right Thing (Brooklyn) to Coming to America (Queens) to The Godfather (Staten Island) to A Bronx Tale (take a guess), so many classic New York movie scenes have been shot throughout the boroughs. We will work with producers and local communities to build on this rich tradition and highlight the locations that make New York City unique.
Our vision is long-range and wide-focus. We're thrilled that The Tonight Show is back where it belongs, in Rockefeller Center, and we want to make sure the next big thing starts here -- and stays here. In New York City, the TV and film industry has a true partner, not to mention a mayor who will always be slightly in awe of the work you do.
DE BLASIO'S FIRST 100 DAYS
Elected with the support of celebrities including Susan Sarandon, Chris Noth, Cynthia Nixon, Lee Daniels and Harry Belafonte, New York City's new Democratic mayor took office Jan. 1 and has slowly begun to engage with the entertainment community.
FEB. 3: Visits Jon Stewart's The Daily Show on Comedy Central and jokes he plans to send a plague of locusts to New York's ritzy Upper East Side, whose residents complained of slow snow removal.
FEB. 24: Drops by the Today show and makes up with weatherman Al Roker, who had slammed him for not closing the schools in advance of one of the winter's biggest storms, then joins the rest of the cast for a ribbon-cutting that opens the show's new plaza at Rockefeller Center.
MARCH 8: Having promised to shut down Central Park's horse-drawn carriage rides, he refuses an offer by Liam Neeson to tour the horses' stables to see that they are treated humanely. "He should have manned up and come," the actor says.
MARCH 22: Appears at New York's annual $750-a-plate Inner City charity dinner, where he joins in skits with Nixon and Steve Buscemi.
APRIL 8: Reveals that, upon learning of David Letterman's planned retirement, he called CBS' Les Moonves to urge him to keep The Late Show in New York.
APRIL 17: de Blasio chooses Cynthia Lopez as New York City's new film commissioner, as The Hollywood Reporter first revealed.