Bryan Cranston is among this year’s actor Oscar nominees for his performance in “Trumbo.” Yet while the whole movie is set in Los Angeles, not one of his scenes was actually filmed here.

To save money, Louisiana doubled for Los Angeles from the 1940s through the 1970s in the drama about Dalton Trumbo, the blacklisted screenwriter of “Spartacus” and “Roman Holiday.”

“I would love to have shot here and got that sense of place but economically it wasn’t possible,” said the film’s director, Jay Roach. “The budget went a whole lot further in a tax credit state.”

Producer Michael London added, “This was filmed just before the new California tax incentives, which are now bringing filming back to L.A., were established. With our budget only in the high teens, shooting in a state that did offer us tax credits became a sensible decision.”

That meant 40 of the 41 production days were spent shooting in Louisiana – with lookalikes found for iconic locations such as the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The one shoot day in Los Angeles was spent shooting exteriors.

“Although we weren’t able to film here, I’m thrilled we were able to tell the story of Trumbo’s fight for civil rights. It’s a small movie with an important message,” said Cranston, the former “Breaking Bad” star who has received his first Academy Award nomination for the role.

He and the moviemakers spoke after a West Hollywood screening earlier this month of the acclaimed film, which might be the last example for a while of such movies being lured away by other states.

The California Film Commission announced this month that 13 new feature films, which are expected to generate $400 million in direct in-state spending, have been earmarked for the new and expanded tax credits program. Among them is a Warner Bros. remake of “A Star Is Born” featuring Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.

Meanwhile, the application for the next round of television projects has just begun and successful applicants for those credits will be announced next month.

Detecting Winner

Idris Elba has won a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for detective show “Luther” and now he’s won the love of L.A. public TV station KCET, which has snapped up rights to rerun episodes of the British series. Episodes will begin airing March 14.

It’s part of the station’s plan to boost ratings by mixing popular international shows with local interest programming, explained President Michael Riley.

“Our strategy is to continue to build audience by complementing our popular import library with strong original franchises that tell the stories of Southern California,” he said.

Short Takes

In other Elba news, the L.A. lawyer who represents the “Luther” star and his production company Green Door Pictures in the United States, James Finney, has been named partner and head of the film, TV and new-media division at the Century City law firm he joined in 2014, Hertz Lichtenstein & Young. Finney previously managed business and legal affairs for megaproducer Mark Burnett.

As Kobe Bryant prepares to retire from the Los Angeles Lakers, his rising-star teammate Julius Randle hopes to step into his shoes as the team’s main pitchman in TV commercials.

Randle is the new face of Mountain Dew and his first ad for the PepsiCo Inc. soft drink debuted during last week’s National Basketball Association All-Star Game. The power forward will appear in promotional materials across the city for the drink and is also making personal appearances in support of the brand.

UCLA professor Neil Landau, who runs the school’s Writing for Television program, decided to write about TV in a new book. “TV Outside the Box” sees the screenwriter-turned-academic arguing that recent high-quality TV shows are bridging cultures and breaking down borders around the world as people unite in support of popular programming.

In its 20th anniversary year, the Colcoa French Film Festival in Los Angeles is set to be the biggest yet. Colcoa, an acronym for City of Light City of Angels, will return to the Directors Guild of America theaters for nine days in April with 68 films and more than 22,000 attendees expected, making it the largest festival of French films anywhere in the world.

According to a 2013 survey by, three-quarters of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. That’s why Santa Monica cable channel Spike, owned by Viacom Inc., decided the time is right for new series “Life or Debt,” which is set to air next month. The show seeks to help viewers avoid financial disaster. For example, one episode focuses on L.A. single mother Heather Santora, who was working eight jobs to make ends meet until combining her skills and finding a position that got her back on her feet.

Managing editor Sandro Monetti can be reached at or (323) 549-5225, ext. 200.

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