Canada Envoy: Runaway Production Issue Overblown
By Etan Vlessing and David Finnigan
from The Hollywood Reporter
July 20,1999

Canada's ambassador to the United States told a California congressman to put up or shut up regarding complaints about U.S. film and TV runaway production. 

Raymond Chretien wrote in a letter to U.S. Rep. Howard Berman, D-Mission Hills, that U.S.-produced TV shows and movies shot in Canada represent a drop in the bucket compared with production levels in Los Angeles.

"Hollywood's leadership is not threatened; if anything it is stronger than ever," Chretien wrote Friday in a letter to Berman that was published Monday by Canadian Press, the Canadian wire service.

A Berman spokesman said the congressman's office in the San Fernando Valley received the letter Monday, but Berman was en route to Washington late last night and had not read it.

Chretien, the nephew of Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien, said provinces such as Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia were entitled to use tax breaks to lure TV and film productions from Hollywood. The Canadian ambassador added that Canadians ought to be able to produce U.S. TV shows and movies because they readily consume Hollywood fare.

A Screen Actors Guild/Directors Guild of America report last month concluded that Canada snagged 81% of runaway production in 1998, costing Los Angeles 20,000 full-time entertainment jobs.

The Directors Guild of Canada and Canadian politicians have insisted that the SAG/DGA report hyped numbers on runaway productions and exaggerated their impact on the Los Angeles production sector. The Hollywood Reporter reported last month that despite industry protestations, employment in California's film and TV business hit a record high last year (HR 7/16).

Click here for Congressman Berman's response

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