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Boston + Plymouth + Weymouth, MA becoming the Hollywood of the East?
Thanks to a tax break aimed specifically on the filming industry in Massachusetts, it seems likely that movie studios will soon be commonplace in the state. Here are some articles:
It's official: Hollywood investors want to build studio at Weymouth air base
By Jack Encarnacao
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Apr 10, 2008 @ 01:30 PM
A group of Hollywood investors say they will be ready to break ground in July on a multimillion dollar movie and television production complex at the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station.
International Studio Group, a band of former Hollywood producers, said redevelopment of the base is far enough along that the company can commit to building a a $250 million to $300 million complex called SouthField Studios.
But first, they say, the Legislature must approve a bill that would classify filmmaking as a manufacturing industry and qualify it for new tax credits.
“Our shovels are poised, and we’re ready to go as soon as the governor signs the bill,” Robert Papazian, a veteran producer whose credits include the HBO series “Rome,” said in a statement.
If everything goes smoothly, construction on the complex could start as early as July, Rep. Ronald Mariano, D-Quincy, said. Mariano is sponsoring the tax credit bill. Proponents say the studio would create 4,000 to 5,000 jobs.
See the Patriot Ledger special report on Hollywood East: Proposed movie studio in Plymouth
The 30-acre studio complex would include 10 to 15 sound stages, a motion-capture stage, office space, sets designed to look like life-size streets, post-production facilities and an interactive tour. The tour would give tourists and local residents an insider’s look into movie and television production.
Allan Kassirer, a former television producer and attorney for the studio group, said the team has been waiting for certain pieces to fall into place before making a commitment to build in Weymouth. Those include the closing of a deal between the Navy and the Tri-Town Redevelopment Corp. to acquire all the base property and securing state financing for construction of a parkway through the property.
Kassirer said the group is confident that Mariano’s bill for new tax credits will be approved.
“All of the things that were necessary to happen at the property we’re comfortable with,” Kassirer said. “It’s a question of time.”
Kassirer said the complex would be modeled after Fox Studios in Los Angeles. A range of amenities for production crews, including dry cleaners, restaurants and a mill for set construction, would be built on site.
“If you’ve never been on a studio, it’s hard to imagine,” he said.
International Studio Group has significant experience in production and studio development.
As a team, Papazian and fellow producer James Hirsch won Emmy awards for their NBC production of “Inherit the Wind” and most recently produced the HBO miniseries “Rome.” The pair also built and operated Ray-Art Studios, which housed many of Hollywood’s leading producers, studios and networks. They also owned and operated the Sunset-Gower Studios in Los Angeles.
The other partners are Lee Tomlinson, a former principal in Culver Studios where “Gone With the Wind” was shot, and Jack McDaniel, a designer and developer for Universal Studios Florida.
Kassirer, a long-time entertainment lawyer and entertainment manager, has produced several films including “North Shore Fish,” which was written by Massachusetts native Israel Horovitz.
Studio project on a roll
Momentum builds after referendum
Momentum behind a $300 million film studio, proposed for 300 acres of town-owned land in south Plymouth, is building daily as a critical June 9 Special Town Meeting vote on the project nears.
Plymouth Rock Studios received a significant boost Saturday when voters overwhelmingly backed the project in a nonbinding referendum. The vote was 8,536 ballots in favor and 1,118 opposed. The studio vote easily overshadowed a second ballot item, approval of a new town charter, which was handily defeated.
"We feel the town has given the project a green light, in movie talk," said David Kirkpatrick, one of the principals of Plymouth Rock Studios.
Saturday's ballot success followed declarations of support by the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee, and Planning Board for the articles that will be up for a vote at next month's Town Meeting, which are essential for the film studio to proceed.
Meanwhile, endorsements keep flowing in. Both the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce and the South Shore Chamber of Commerce are strongly urging Town Meeting representatives to embrace the studio.
In a letter the Plymouth Chamber will mail to all 126 Town Meeting representatives, the directors write: "This exciting project has all the ingredients that will bring tremendous economic benefits to the Town of Plymouth, the region, and the Commonwealth."
The letter goes on to note that the studio could increase Plymouth's commercial tax base by 50 percent. Studio backers say it will create 2,000 well-paying jobs.
In a separate letter to Town Meeting representatives, Peter Forman, president and chief executive of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce, predicts the project "will add a powerful new dimension to the existing tourism market from Cape Cod to Boston."
The studio, put together by a group of California movie moguls, calls for construction of 14 soundstages, two 100,000-square-foot production buildings, two back lots for exterior scenes, a village with housing, a hotel and stores, a K-12 performing arts school, vocational classrooms, a cultural center, visitors center, and a screening theater that would serve as the centerpiece of the campus.
Destination Plymouth, an organization focusing on tourism, unanimously voted two weeks ago to endorse Plymouth Rock Studios.
"Plymouth has done well using our past to draw visitors from all over the world, but we must not allow our reliance on the past to cloud our vision of the future," Destination Plymouth executive director Paul Cripps wrote in a letter to selectmen.
For the studio to proceed, Town Meeting members on June 9 must approve the creation of a zoning overlay district in south Plymouth. They also must agree to grant selectmen the authority to transfer the town-owned land targeted for the studio. Both those Town Meeting articles must pass by a two-thirds majority.
"I think the Town Meeting representatives have been given a mandate," said Loring Tripp, the former Planning Board member who was successful in getting the nonbinding referendum placed on last Saturday's ballot. "The voice of the people is a strong voice."
more stories like this"The Town Meeting representatives are not approving or disapproving the project," Tripp said. "They are just allowing it to then be considered."
It is expected to take up to a year for Plymouth Rock Studios to get its permits, arrange for an interchange off Route 25 to be built, and satisfy all environmental requirements, Tripp said.
Town Meeting representative Ric Cone, who supports the studio proposal, said he believes the majority of Town Meeting representatives feel as he does.
"But I know there are some who are against the project," he said. "They should listen to their constituents. If we're not responsive to the voters of the town, then we should be replaced."
A group supporting the studio, the Yes to the Rock Committee, waged a vigorous campaign in the two weeks preceding Saturday's vote with public demonstrations. A few days before the election, everyone on the group's mailing list received a reminder to vote, with polling times and locations, a phone number to arrange for transportation to the polls, and a list of Town Meeting candidates on the ballot who backed the project.
An automated phone message went out to all residents on Saturday.
Richard Silva, Yes to the Rock president, said the campaign will continue until June 9.
"A cross section of this town wants the project," Silva said. "It's not just the union, or people struggling with their taxes, or those who support the arts. It's everyone."
Kirkpatrick said project planners have scheduled information sessions in several of the town's 14 precincts over the final week in May and first week of June. They also arranged for three Planning Board presentations. The first, focusing on the studio component of the project, took place this past Monday. The second, which will outline plans for a village comprising housing and retail space, will be held this coming Monday. The final presentation, focusing on the project's educational component, is set for the Planning Board's June 2 meeting.
"Our whole belief is to deal with any potential challenges by delivering understanding and the facts," Kirkpatrick said.
Middleboro officials say “welcome” to studio developers
By Alice C. Elwell And Tamara Race
Fri May 30, 2008, 08:06 AM EDT
Middleboro officials are hanging up the welcome sign in an effort to lure Plymouth Rock Studios from neighboring Plymouth.
“Middleboro is the best little town in the middle of everywhere. What better place?” said Middleboro Selectmen Chairman Adam Bond.
But Plymouth officials say: Not so fast.
“You don’t have the rock, and we’re not selling it,” Selectman Kenneth Tavares said. “Plymouth Rock Studios doesn’t make sense in Middleboro.”
Plymouth Rock Studio executives want to build a multi-million-dollar studio on 1,000 acres of town land in south Plymouth. This week, studio heads said they are now looking at other properties because questionable land titles could delay the project.
Studio heads said they are looking at nine other properties, seven of them in Plymouth.
Richard Silva, who headed the “Yes to the Rock” campaign that won 88 percent support at the polls last month, said it would be a shame to lose the project.
“We would be losing something that would be one of the best things ever to happen in Plymouth,” Silva said. “If they leave, I would be very upset. Some people are saying, if any town can blow it, Plymouth can, but I hope that doesn’t happen.”
Bond said Middleboro has potential for “exquisite filming” and has easy highway access.
“We’re willing to work to see if we can convince them to come,” he said.
Michael Striar, son of the late Daniel E. Striar, whose land Middleboro seized for back taxes and auctioned to casino investors for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, is doing an inventory of remaining family land for a studio.
Striar said between a potential casino and a movie studio, the “combination is unbelievable.”
Studio development coordinator William Wynne said the company wants to have a site selected by the end of June.
“If anyone has a large parcel of land upward of 150 to 200 acres, they should call us. But we’re committed to Plymouth County and would prefer Plymouth,” Wynne said.
Denis Hanks, Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce president, said Middleboro is not the first town to try to steal the studio project.
“But we’re pretty confident that we have enough properties here to find them a site. The ‘brand’ of Plymouth Rock outweighs anything other communities can offer. It’s all about the branding.”
Great race heats up for Mass. movie Hub
Boston is now in the running to become the headquarters of Hollywood East.
A local developer who owns land on South Boston’s waterfront is drawing up plans for a movie production complex, state Rep. Brian Wallace (D-South Boston) said yesterday.
Wallace declined to name the builder, who he said has been in contact with executives in Hollywood about the plans. The project calls for a pair of large sound stages, with the option for future expansion.
The would-be Hub studio developer and his partners join a heated race that already features two competing movie and film studio projects, a $300 million proposal in South Weymouth and a $500 million plan in Plymouth.
The lure of millions in state tax credits has already made the Boston area a hotbed for West Coast movie productions. But industry promoters say a studio complex is needed to create a permanent, year-round entertainment sector.
“It would be a better location, but a smaller venue,” said Wallace, referring to the Southie plan. “There would a niche for all three.”
The new proposal emerges as competing plans in Plymouth and South Weymouth face their own challenges.
Plymouth Rock Studios is now on the hunt for a new site, while in South Weymouth, a group of movie business veterans says the future of their proposal depends on a state bill that would provide tens of millions in tax credits.
A Boston-area studio complex would have a big geographic advantage, closer to the many films that have staked out different parts of the city.
Nicholas Paleologos, executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office, said the Boston studio proposal, if it can get off the ground, won’t have a problem booking business.
“If there were a couple of sound stages in the Boston area, they would be booked all the time,” he said.
I just hope that arrival of these movie studios won't increase the cost of living in a significant way.
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