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Hard times for dependent businesses

November 14, 2007 |  4:47 pm


Ashkenazi For years, Television & Cinema Wardrobe Cleaners has lived by its motto: "We do nothing but showbiz!"

That narrow focus is costing the Sun Valley company, which lost 30% of its TV work just one week into the strike by the Writers Guild of America. That figure could double by the end of this week.

"It's dreadful," said Denny Ashkenazi, whose husband Oren owns TVC, which provides dry cleaning and laundering services for TV shows, feature films and commercials. "Business is so slow."

Less than two weeks into Hollywood's first major strike in nearly 20 years, local businesses are feeling the strain from reduced orders and canceled contracts. The pain has spread beyond businesses tied to the production of shows and films, reaching those that serve the industry or simply operate in the neighborhood, including catering companies, hotels, florists and dog groomers.

The strike "really does have far-reaching effects," said Mark Deo, executive director of the Small Business Advisory Network, which has been counseling many entertainment-related companies during the strike. "It's not just people directly involved."

Economists say the strike could be more disruptive than the 22-week walkout by writers in 1988, which cost the entertainment industry an estimated $500 million. Hollywood is a more dominant force in the region today, with studios and networks that are part of media giants such as Time Warner Inc., Walt Disney Co. and News Corp.

Many businesses have arisen to support the entertainment industry, which accounts for almost 7% of Los Angeles County's $447-billion economy. A large-budget film of about $70 million typically creates 928 jobs: 231 tied to the production and 697 indirect jobs, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

With the strike cutting off production at studios across Hollywood, many of these jobs quickly became unnecessary. For small companies without large resources, the economic toll mounts rapidly. Read more

More news on the strike

-- Andrea Chang

Photo credit: Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times