City Hall

Why Today's Press Conference Wasn't About What It Was Supposed To Be About

So. Patrick and I just returned from the press conference in the Flag Room at City Hall, where quite the bold-faced crowd gathered for Coyote Slim's big announcement with Mayor Tom Leppert, state Sen. Royce West and various Fox execs, including exec veep Jim Sharp. Only, we left not quite sure what the press conference was about -- except an occasion to celebrate the fact that the state production incentives are doing what they're meant to do, which is bring bidness to Texas. Said Governor Rick Perry, since he signed the incentives into law in April 2009 at Robert Rodriguez's movie studio down in Austin, Texas has seen 206 productions start shooting here, bringing with them"28,500 full-time jobs and $184 million in spending," quite the return on investment for an incentives bill totaling $62 million give or take.

But, see, I was told several days ago that any day now, 20th Century Fox Television -- the same folks responsible for bringing The Good Guys, Lonestar, The Deep End and, even before that, Prison Break to town -- would announce yet another series set to film in Dallas. And, as I mentioned below, it's called Chaos -- a Fox production for CBS. Several sources confirmed yesterday that today was The Big Day: Perry was coming to town to announce a fourth series shooting here, including NBC's Chase, the Jerry Bruckheimer production.

And, indeed, several times during the presser, Jim Sharp, exec veep at Fox TV, mentioned Chaos. Only, as someone explained to me after the press conference, he meant to say Chase, which is why he referred to it on one occasion as "the competition." Which was a little weird.

So I asked around afterward: Why no Official Announcement, especially when Perry prefaced his remarks by calling today "another milestone"? Seems strange to call all these folks together to talk about a few numbers that would easily fit on a press release.

Said Mayor Leppert when I asked him if Chaos was coming to Dallas, "You mean outside of the council?" He smiled. I smiled. I tried again. Are we getting Chaos? "That's what they mentioned." So, that's a yes? "You'll have to ask Jim."

So I went to find Sharp. Along the way, I found Bob Hudgins, the Texas Film Commissioner. So I asked him, What happened?

"Well ... Chaos, they didn't get the final word that it's been picked up yet." He's referring to the fact that CBS, which only last week announced its fall series, is still trying to figure out which pilots to use as mid-season replacements. Chaos remains at the top of the list. But it's no sure thing. "Evidentaly, they haven't worked out their final negotiations with the studio. They thought it'd be done by now."

Which is why they called a press conference in the middle of a city council meeting. Why they brought in the governor. Why Royce West ducked out of some meeting.

Are you feeling pretty good about it, though, Bob?

"Yeah. But ask Jim. He's the definitive word."

So, Jim Sharp, let's talk Chaos. What's the definitive word?

"Chaos is still in negotiations, so it's not completely done right now," he tells Unfair Park. "CBS is playing, ya know, a little cagey with us, so we don't have a firm answer. It's not official official. The papers have not been signed yet."

How far are you guys from that happening?

"We hope this week."

And if they do go through, it'll shoot here?

"We believe it'll shoot here," Sharp says. "We shot the pilot in Los Angeles, but we expect to shoot here. Bruce [Margolis, exec veep at Fox and the show's producer] is flying home tonight, and we hope to hear officially soon. This has been dragging on because there's more emphasis on the fall schedule right now."

So, for now, that's that. "Jumped the gun" is how someone put it. Or: chaos.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky