Opinion

The big payoff in keeping Hollywood here

Dear Hollywood: Come home. All is forgiven. And paid for. Love, Jerry

Dear Hollywood:

Come home. All is forgiven. And paid for.

Love,

Jerry

Gov. Brown -- Jerry -- just put his John Hancock on a deal to put about a third of a billion dollars a year into tax credits to keep movies and TV in their natural homeland of California.

How anyone could think that was a bad idea, I don’t know. What would Vermont be without maple syrup and lovely leaves? Colorado, without mountains and skiing? That's what California, meaning chiefly Southern California, could be without Hollywood.

Of course, Californians do not walk as one, which was why getting the tax credits deal through the Legislature had to get sweetened up with rewards for other parts of the state; if you shoot in a city other than L.A., you get extra incentives.

But all of the state stands to get an advantage here. The deal works out to a bit less than $10 per year per Californian, which is to say, less than the price of a matinee ticket. And Brown made it clear that he hopes the money will help keep or lure back production and all those jobs that come with the job of making entertainment.

As production packed up and left California, other states took up the slack, offering film credits and tax breaks. Some of them have since decided that, despite the glamour, subsidies aren't such a good deal after all. North Carolina just pulled the plug on its program.

But here in California, there is a psychic income from keeping Hollywood as more than just a name, but as an actual, working place.

No one -- well, almost no one -- demands a dollar-for-dollar return on the state’s investment in its natural beauty. But wouldn’t the Golden State glimmer a little less alluringly without its beaches, its mountains and deserts?

Likewise, Hollywood -- the place, not just the concept -- generates a subconscious currency. Every time some dad takes his kid’s picture with a Jack Sparrow dress-alike in front of the Dolby Theatre and slips the impersonator $5 … every time some tourist Instagrams a picture of the Hollywood sign taken from an airplane seat, that’s psychic payoff, and it benefits the state. But that kind of multiplier will be on the wane if TV and movie makers keep taking their trade elsewhere.

As the actor who vacated the office Brown now occupies recently tweeted,  “Congratulations to Jerry Brown and the Legislature on passing new film tax credits. I look forward to filming more in California.” That’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose latest film, “Sabotage,” was shot mostly in Georgia.

Follow Patt Morrison on Twitter @pattmlatimes

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