After violence in Los Angeles forced producers of the Warner Bros. film "Falling Down," starring Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall, to move their high-profile production from Lynwood to the walled safety of a studio lot in Burbank last Thursday, the producers hoped that shooting schedules would return to normal this week.
But as they prepared to resume filming at a Pasadena bar on Monday, they were informed by Pasadena police that their film permit had been revoked.
That same scenario played out in numerous locations citywide on Monday, as local authorities put a stop to a wide range of scheduled film and television production in neighborhoods where safety was still considered a factor after the violence that shut down most of Hollywood late last week.
"The city (film office) has made calls to various police divisions to find out if they will approve filming, and there are many divisions--Rampart, Hollenbeck, Southwest, Southeast, Hollywood, Foothill--they're all saying no, no, no," Patti Archuletta, director of the California Film Commission, said Monday.
"The disruption this morning is still sizable because there are so many areas of the city under the watchful eye of the National Guard and the city police," Archuletta said. "Things should get easier as the week moves on."
Los Angeles issues about 5,000 film permits a year, and on any given day there are 40 to 60 productions shooting in the city, ranging from TV commercials to feature films. On Monday, only two dozen companies held permits for the day, according to Charles M. Weisenberg, director of the Motion Picture and Television Division of the City of Los Angeles.
"Some of these were given before the riots began," Weisenberg said, "but they may be pulled. We have no way of keeping track of which productions are being affected. The current situation is that all film permits in the City of Los Angeles are subject to approval by (local) police," a situation that is expected to last throughout the week.
The west San Fernando Valley and Harbor areas were least affected Monday by permit problems, Weisenberg said.
Because films shooting on studio lots in Los Angeles do not need permits, a few productions rearranged their shooting schedules and moved onto lots for the time being to avoid problems. Director Danny DeVito's "Hoffa," starring Jack Nicholson, was at the Ambassador Hotel on Thursday when production was cut short, but shooting resumed Monday on a 20th Century Fox lot.
Not all films had that luxury. HBO was filming "Barbarians at the Gate," an account of the Nabisco leveraged buyout starring James Garner and Jonathan Price, at the First Interstate Bank lobby and the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles last week when production was abruptly shut down.
The producers have no place else to shoot, and they've been told that they can't get a film permit to continue downtown until Saturday at the earliest.
"We're losing five to six days. It's a significant amount of money," HBO spokesman Richard Licata said.
For its part, the Film Commission, which was established to promote California as a desirable shooting location, is not happy about the permit problems. Their studies estimate that anywhere from $25,000 to $45,000 a day is pumped into the local economy when a film or TV production visits town--money that could be desperately used now in the wake of last week's riots.
The overriding concern at the moment, however, is that a Hollywood production, which draws large crowds by nature, might lead to more confusion on the streets.
"Everybody wants to be sure that there are no problems going on out there," said Los Angeles Board of Public Works commissioner Percy Duran, who oversees the film office in Los Angeles.
"We don't want to get into a situation where we have a chase scene and people think it's looters. We might create our own problems."
Last week, most of the studios shut down early Thursday and stayed closed Friday, while productions throughout the city had to be abandoned or wrapped early because of the curfew. Two USA Network cable thrillers were forced to halt production--"Lady Killer," starring Mimi Rogers, was in Hancock Park, and "Indecency," starring Jennifer Beals, was downtown on 2nd Street when the uprising began. A Lifetime cable movie, "Getting Up and Going Home," fled its location on the USC campus.
There were even problems as far away as Berkeley, where the Warner Bros. film "Change of Heart," starring Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson, had trouble obtaining a film permit Friday because there were no police available to provide security.
Although most TV series are on hiatus for the season, several pilots scheduled to shoot last week were delayed. The filming of the new CBS series from writer-producer Diane English ("Murphy Brown"), "Love Is Hell," was cut short, and the Friday night taping of "Bob," Bob Newhart's new comedy series, was postponed until tonight. "Buck and Harry," a pilot for NBC, also put off taping until tonight.
"I don't think any of this will have a long-term effect on filming in Los Angeles," Weisenberg said, "assuming of course that public safety is restored to an acceptable level. Once this is over, all the reasons why Los Angeles is a big filming center will still remain valid."