L.A. Mayor Urges CBS To Move the 'Late Show' Out West

Eric Garcetti Podium - H 2012
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Eric Garcetti Podium - H 2012

Mayor Eric Garcetti offers proactive assistance to encourage a move and promises he will cut red tape and work to create financial incentives equal to those of other states.

In the wake of David Letterman's revelation on Thursday that he will retire from the Late Show some time in 2015, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is reaching out to CBS and urging the network to move the next incarnation of the late-night program to Los Angeles.

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Here is the text of the Mayor's letter to the network's president/CEO, Les Moonves.

Dear Mr. Moonves:

As a longtime fan, I was saddened to hear of David Letterman's retirement. But as Mayor of Los Angeles, I am excited for the opportunity to encourage you to bring CBS' next late-night show to our city -- the entertainment capital of the world.

I have made the entertainment industry a key priority for my administration. It's a critical component to our city's economy and identity. I created the Mayor's Office of Motion Picture and Television Production, and under the leadership of Ken Ziffren, we are aggressively seeking to encourage more production here in Los Angeles by cutting red tape, lending proactive assistance, and by furthering public policy to compete with the financial incentives offered by other states.

I look forward to speaking with you about the possibility of bringing the successor to Mr. Letterman's show to Los Angeles. 


Eric Garcetti 


Garcetti, who has been active in trying to keep the entertainment industry in his city, is hoping that he can achieve what the state of New York did when they lured The Tonight Show to New York City after Jimmy Fallon replaced Jay Leno.

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Despite his promise to find incentives, the Mayor won't have the same resources to offer that the New York State legislature passed and the governor signed, which included an amendment to their movie and TV incentive law that provided special tax breaks to The Tonight Show.

The Tonight Show got a 30-percent tax credit that reportedly saved NBC over $20 million a year. At the time of the move in February, a network spokesman said while the move was for creative reasons, it would not have been possible without the tax credit.

Although New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo denied the law was rewritten to lure The Tonight Show, the amendment was remarkably specific. It only applied to a show that had filmed at least five years in another state, which would spend at least $30 million in production costs and be shot in front of an audience of at least 200 people.

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"Bringing The Tonight Show back to our city means we're bringing more than a hundred jobs to hard-working New Yorkers, and giving travelers another great reason to visit," New York City's new Mayor Bill de Blasio told the Associated Press in February.

California has tax incentives, but the amount is smaller ($100 million compared to New York’s $430 million), and the current program doesn't cover a talk show. There is new legislation just beginning to make its way through Sacramento that could include, or be amended to include, funds that might tempt CBS to relocate the show.

A national talk show brings with it hundreds of jobs directly and many more indirectly from service providers and area businesses, ranging from restaurants to dry cleaners to florists and beyond.

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The direct and indirect benefits are only part of the perks of a show the size of the Late Show. It helps create an image for the entire area (remember when The Tonight Show was in "beautiful downtown Burbank?") that can fuel tourism, generate revenue and build civic pride.

It also has an impact on how movies and TV shows are promoted, which means where marketing dollars are spent. When The Tonight Show relocated, many publicity firms moved their promotional activity to New York because that is now the home of more talk shows, daytime and night-time, which are central to getting publicity for a movie or TV show in this era.

California's problems are very real when it comes to losing production. The Tonight Show loss is only part of it. In the past decade, the state has lost a huge amount of movie and TV production, especially the largest-scale films and the kind of network series that shoot for nine months out of a year, spend a lot of money and employ a large number of workers.