Saturday, February 12, 2011

'Chase' stops running, what's next in Texas film/TV?

They've made my SHOT IN TEXAS "premium content" on the Dallas Morning News site, but here it is from today's paper...

'Chase' shuts down after NBC pulls it from schedule


NBC pulled Chase from its schedule just days before production on the show officially ended in North Texas this week. Five episodes remain unaired, and the move means the series probably won’t be back for a second season. The network earlier reduced the episode order from 22 to 18 after poor ratings.

Chase was the last of the major network series shot in Texas to close shop. It follows North Texas-shot Lone Star and The Good Guys, and Austin-shot My Generation and Friday Night Lights. Lights ended it fifth season on DirecTV this week, though the season won’t air on NBC until April.

All of the series faced ratings woes while also proving the mettle of Texas crews and bringing money to the state. Each episode is estimated to bring in at least $1 million in local spending.

If North Texas officials get their wish, the television production frenzy will continue.

“We do have projects that are looking,” said Janis Burklund of the Dallas Film Commission. “And that includes television pilots — plural — and features.”

Certainly the possibility with the highest profile is TNT’s modern-day take on Dallas . It was recently announced that Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray have all signed on for the series pilot, which will focus on the original characters’ children.

There was no word at press time that Dallas would shoot in Dallas, but Burklund remains cautiously optimistic. “They’re looking at their options,” she said of TNT reps. “I think we will know fairly soon.”

Also possibly on the horizon is the Dallas-set Good Christian Bitches , based on Kim Gatlin’s book of the same name. ABC has ordered a pilot presentation for the soap-like show from Sex and the City’s Darren Star.

The television floodgates opened after the 2009 Texas Legislature made its filming incentives payment more flexible and upped overall two-year spending to $60 million. The increase was seen as too little to attract a lot of major films, but perfect for network television. The current budget crunch is likely to shrink that amount considerably. An early proposal dropped it to $10 million for the next two years.

This week, Gov. Rick Perry proposed adding another $20 million on top of that for an even $30 million, as well as opening the possibility that additional funds could be added to the program if they could be freed up elsewhere.

The new session also brought a new leader to the Texas Film Commission, Dallas native Evan Fitzmaurice, who is keeping a politically low profile and letting legislators handle the politics of film incentives.

“There’s a process at work, and as a film commission, we are eager to answer their questions as we have in the past,” he said.

Don Stokes, president of the Texas Motion Picture Alliance, said cutting incentive funding now could halt the flow of television series to Texas.

“We’re prepared to look at a smaller appropriation,” he said. “We just feel it merits more than $30 million because of the jobs we bring to the state.”

The film group has commissioned an economic impact study aimed at proving that . The study is due March 1 from the Texas Association of Business.

Bonus footage

Fitzmaurice spent five years in Los Angeles as an entertainment attorney before joining Perry’s legal staff. He’s a graduate of Greenhill School in Addison. While attending the University of Texas, he wrote music reviews for The Daily Texan and played bass in the band Second Season. … When Angels Sing, a Christmas story directed by Tim McCanlies (Secondhand Lions ) and based on Turk Pipkin’s book, is currently shooting in Austin. The cast includes Harry Connick Jr., Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights ), Willie Nelson , Kris Kristofferson and Lyle Lovett.

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