Hollywood took time out from its busy schedule to tout its economic impact last week, hoping to convince any recalcitrant government agencies out there that the entertainment industry is indeed a bulwark of the state and local economy.

At news conferences in Universal City and Sacramento, the Motion Picture Association of America released a 44-page study concluding that film, television and commercial production generated $27.5 billion in economic activity for the state in 1996 $25.6 billion of that coming from L.A. County.

That's up from the 1992 mark of $16.3 billion statewide and $15 billion locally, the MPAA said.

Economists and government officials don't dispute the fact that show business is a big deal in California. So what's the reason for the study?

Industry officials acknowledge that most cities have become less restrictive toward TV and film production. But there are still some pockets of resistance, according to Mike Bobenko, senior vice president for the Los Angeles Entertainment Industry Development Council.

Among them are Malibu and Beverly Hills, although the latter has recently become more permissive, he said.

MPAA President Jack Valenti also said it was important for the industry to arm itself with data in the event its importance is ever questioned.

"We are talking about a business that is extremely important to the economy of this state," Valenti said, "and lawmakers and people in government should know this."

The study disclosed that 226,000 Californians are employed in the production of movies, television and commercials, up from 164,000 in 1992. There are another 250,000 workers who are employed indirectly in jobs related to entertainment production, according to the study.

"The average production job pays $53,000 annually, which is amongst the highest salaries in the nation and 70 percent higher that the average wage in California," Valenti said.

The surge of Hollywood, the survey said, was caused by the increased demand for film and television programming here and abroad. The creation of new broadcast outlets, cable and satellite delivery, and the building of multiplex theaters has also spurred the economic growth.

The message to politicians, Valenti said, is simple: "If you want to generate more activity, do like Nordstrom: Be nice to your consumer. Service them and make it easier to film."

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