By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mayor Bill de Blasio trekked to Brooklyn’s “Hollywood on the East River” – Steiner Studios -- on Friday to announce his appointment of documentary filmmaker and “POV” co-executive producer Cynthia López as commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting.
The Mayor made the announcement following a tour of Steiner, the largest and most sophisticated studio complex on the East Coast, with First Lady Chirlane McCray.
López will replace departed film czar Katherine Oliver, who was appointed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The Mayor said on Friday that the award-winning producer would focus on driving more film production to the city and with nurturing “up-and-coming filmmakers” to create a more inclusive environment in the industry.
“The film and television industries are central to New York City’s cultural vitality and to economic strength,” de Blasio said. “It means a lot more than just the dollars and cents, just the pure numbers. Because this industry is in the DNA of this city. It’s part of who we are. It’s part of what makes us great.”
Since January 1 of this year, 18 television pilots have been produced in New York City, and there are 55 films in production right now, de Blasio said. Film and TV production employs 130,000 New Yorkers.
López said that when she was growing up in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, the Navy Yard was a place to be avoided. “Today, I have to say, I was impressed by what Doug has created here. You and your team, it’s been impressive how you’ve revitalized the area and brought a vibrant industry to this place. This is just one example of the extraordinary facilities and talent that New York has to offer.” She now lives in Jackson Heights, Queens.
Building on Bloomberg’s groundwork
López said she would build on her predecessor’s legacy “in order to work with Hollywood industry studio and television execs to fulfill all of their production needs and priorities.” She said she would work towards turning the department into a major revenue source for the city and also “build opportunities for all New Yorkers.”
“I’d like to express that New York is open for business, whether you’re a $10,000 production or a $100 million production,” she added.
Mayor de Blasio told reporters that he felt the Bloomberg administration “made a lot of the right moves” when it came to attracting the film industry to New York City. He said he would continue to hand out tax credits because the credits “yielded results.”
He also said that perhaps local residents wouldn’t be so annoyed by constant filming on their blocks if more of the production jobs went to people from the five boroughs.
López and de Blasio also agreed on the issue of keeping Stephen Colbert and the “Late Show” in New York City. “I would just say that any production at that level that has the audience and influence and potential to inform and entertain the American public is a production that we would want to have here," López said. "So we would do everything in our power to make sure that they stay.”
Steiner Studios Chairman, Douglas Steiner applauded López’ appointment. “It’s incredibly challenging to produce television shows and feature films. It’s exponentially more difficult to make documentaries. Cynthia López has had a stellar career in the documentary field,” Steiner said. He added, “Her experience in the trenches will help make New York City even more attractive to the exploding industry of content creation, which is vital to the city’s future.”
De Blasio said that earlier on Friday, “The Following” executive director Marcos Siega gave him and First Lady McCray a tour of the set of the popular show. “We got to go in Kevin Bacon’s apartment. It’s very – you know six degrees of separation Kevin Bacon, I was in Kevin Bacon’s apartment. I feel now I’ve become part of the chain.”
López has served as executive vice president and co-executive producer of American Documentary and the award-winning documentary series POV (Point of View) since 2006. During her tenure, POV has earned numerous awards, including a $1 million MacArthur Award. López is the recipient of eight News & Documentary Emmy Awards.
Updated at 6:30 p.m. with additional quotes from the event.