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On Location: Report shows L.A.'s share of the TV pilot pie is getting smaller

June 7, 2011 |  6:25 pm

It was a banner year for the production of TV pilots, but most of the increase didn't spill over to Los Angeles.

That was the takeaway from the sixth annual survey of TV pilot production from FilmL.A. Inc., the nonprofit film permitting group.

Thanks to a boom in cable TV production, and cable comedies in particular, the most recent pilot season -- which typically runs January through April in advance of screenings for advertisers in May -- was the most productive on record, with 169 pilots produced for the 2010/2011 development season.Missedjune

On first blush, the numbers are positive for L.A., which produced 87 pilots this year, up from 76 last year and the second highest annual take in Los Angeles history since local pilot production peaked in 2004/2005, according to the report from FilmL.A. Cable comedies accounted for most of the growth.

But L.A.'s share of the pilot pie continues to shrink. The region captured only 51% of all pilot production, compared with 58% the prior year and down from 82% six years ago. 

FilmL.A. officials said the trend reflects ongoing competition from locales such as Florida, Georgia, Louisana and New York, where filmmakers are taking their business in droves.  This year, for example, New York drew 17 pilots, up from only 5 last year, as the state beefed up its film tax credit program.

Canada drew 18 pilots, about the same as the prior year, and all other locations outside of California netted 47 pilots, up 52% from a year ago.

"While it comes as no surprise that L.A. would net a lot of comedy pilots and shows this year, to be passed over for new drama pilot and series production is troubling,'' FilmL.A. President Paul Audley stated in the report. "We can thank the local studio base and vast availability of local soundstages as reasons comedies locate in Los Angeles. But until our state regains its competitive edge, the threat of television job and spending losses is quite real."

-- Richard Verrier


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 Photo: The Hollywood Sign. Credit: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times