California Today: California Today: Hollywood’s Comeback

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The view from behind the Hollywood sign of the neighborhood where once-forgotten soundstages are thriving again. Credit Chad Ress for The New York Times

Good morning.

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Today’s introduction is by Brooks Barnes, our Hollywood reporter based in Los Angeles.

Five years ago, there was no sadder stretch of Hollywood, the neighborhood, than the one left for dead by Hollywood, the industry.

Soundstages at Sunset Boulevard and Bronson Avenue looked as though they had not been updated in decades, perhaps since Warner Bros. decamped to Burbank in the 1930s. A nearby complex, vacated by Columbia Pictures in 1972, had lost one of its last long-term productions, “Dexter.” So it went block after block: The party had moved on — not just to newer facilities, but to cheaper locales like Canada and Louisiana.

But the streaming-service boom and expanded tax credits intended to lure “runaway” production back to California have suddenly given these old movie lots a new lease on life.

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In February, Netflix moved into Warner’s former compound, lured by $200 million in upgrades and new office space. Columbia’s ancestral home, since bought by Hudson Pacific Properties, has signed up a swarm of new tenants. Demand is so strong, in fact, that Hudson paid $200 million last month for another faded soundstage facility in the area.

Adding to the energy: Viacom in January moved into a new $420 million West Coast headquarters a few blocks away. In adjacent West Hollywood, soundstages dating to the silent film era have lately been booked by Amazon for shows like “The Last Tycoon” and “Goliath.”

“L.A. is definitely getting its production mojo back,” said Stephen Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. He said California had roughly 172,900 motion-picture-related jobs in 2016, a 14 percent increase compared with the previous year. Netflix will spend $6 billion on programming this year. Amazon is expected to spend $4.5 billion. Facebook, YouTube Red and Apple are all ordering shows, to varying degrees.

But streaming is just one reason that these once-forgotten facilities are suddenly thriving. To bring shoots back to California, the state in 2015 tripled an entertainment-industry tax credit program. The traditional series that have relocated to Los Angeles as a result include HBO’s “Veep” and FX’s “American Horror Story.”

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California Online

(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on news sites that have limited access for nonsubscribers.)


Travis Kalanick, the chief executive of Uber, said last week that he would take an indefinite leave of absence. He resigned on Tuesday. Credit Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Travis Kalanick quit as chief executive of Uber after investors revolted over the company’s legal and workplace scandals. [The New York Times]

• The Supreme Court is considering reining in partisan gerrymandering. California beat it to the punch. [The New York Times]

• Representative Devin Nunes called a congressman’s shooting “almost predictable” given the messages from Democrats and the news media. [Fresno Bee]

• Last week lawmakers voted to break up a state agency that collects $60 billion in taxes. Now officials say it is under investigation. [The Associated Press]


Ty Bingham earned every single Boy Scout merit badge, including four the day before he turned 18. Credit Yoomi Choe

• Archery? Check. Bugling? Check. Ty Bingham of El Dorado Hills joined an elite group of Eagle Scouts who have earned all 137 merit badges. [The New York Times]

• A man spent 18 years in prison for a Fullerton bank robbery only to have the conviction overturned. He was freed Tuesday. [Orange County Register]

Addiction treatment is the new gold rush. Consider one woman’s bill after five months at a California rehab center: $416,050. [Orange County Register]

San Bernardino is now officially out of bankruptcy. [The Sun]


Dalya Zeno and her mother fled from Syria to California as war took over. Credit Julia Meltzer

Op-doc: “I’m the only one that has my head scarf on.” A teenager talks about growing up in Los Angeles after fleeing her home in Aleppo, Syria. [The New York Times]

• The curious case of the Central Coast pine trees that always lean toward the Equator. [Los Angeles Times]

Elon Musk is serious about his plan to bore tunnels under Los Angeles — and he appears to be winning over some politicians. [Whittier Daily News]

Google’s plan to remake downtown San Jose got its first approval from the City Council. [The Mercury News]


Credit Julia Stotz

• Los Angeles’s avocado toasts: a guide. [The New York Times]

Eater has hired its first dedicated restaurant critic in San Francisco. [The New York Times]

Skiers are hitting the slopes in bikini tops in a seemingly endless California winter. [Los Angeles Times]

• Photos: More than 500 surfers formed a circle in the water at Huntington Beach to set a Guinness world record. [Daily Pilot]

And Finally …

Need a job?

California’s state government has at least 3,800 openings it wants to fill.

In a push to do so, the state human resources agency recently introduced a revamped jobs website, branded under the name CalCareers.

The site lets job seekers search using filters such as location and job category.

There are currently openings for lawyers, lifeguards, nurses, plumbers, music therapists and Jewish chaplains.

The postings, helpfully, give expected salary ranges. The top listed minimum salary? About $274,000 a year to be a chief dentist in California’s correctional system.

If that’s a little beyond your expertise, don’t worry. According to the website, there are plenty of openings that require neither a degree nor experience.

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California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see:

The California Today columnist, Mike McPhate, is a third-generation Californian — born outside Sacramento and raised in San Juan Capistrano. He lives in Los Osos. Follow him on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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