"'It's a morass of regulations and requirements, and everyone's trying to figure out what their exposure is," says Eric Belcher, president and CEO of Cast & Crew Entertainment Services. Adds Mark Goldstein, CEO of Entertainment Partners, which has held 16 seminars to help studios understand ACA: 'It's going to be a very big deal.'
Determining the exact nature of the new laws has been difficult,
given that many ACA terms have yet to be worked out. Hollywood
productions, for instance, might find it irksome simply trying to
categorize employees as full- or part-time, seasonal or variable, and
it's important that they get the classifications right lest they face
hefty fines. 'ACA is thousands of pages, and it wasn't written with this
industry in mind,' says Belcher." [...]
One of the unintended consequences, say some industry insiders, is that it could lead to productions running to foreign countries, given that ACA doesn't apply to U.S. citizens working abroad. Some also say the number of production days in the U.S. are likely to be cut due to ACA because there's a 90-day waiting period before productions must either pay a penalty or offer health insurance to full-time workers. [...]
"Do I expect the cost of doing business to go up? Yes, I do," says Mike Rose, CEO of Ease Entertainment Services.
- Hollywood Reporter, July 19, 2013
Meet the New George Soros
The aging, mostly hands-off Soros is still the right's biggest bogeyman. Conservatives should pay more attention to Jeffrey Katzenberg.
On the night of March 23, 2011, four political operatives arrived for dinner at Scarpetta, a posh Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills' Golden Triangle. They wore DC power suits but ditched the ties—their one concession to LA fashion. For a bunch of hacks more at ease on Capitol Hill than Rodeo Drive, they blended in well enough. Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney had spent their adult lives climbing the rungs of Democratic politics, including a stint together in the Obama White House; pundit and consultant Paul Begala had advised Bill Clinton in the 1990s; Geoff Garin had been a top pollster for some 30 years. A hostess led them through the Mediterranean-themed dining room, all dark woods and tan walls lit by golden glass lamps, then up a flight of stairs to a private room. Awaiting them was the man they hoped would be their bell cow.
That was the term Begala, the Texas-raised funnyman of the group, used to describe a megadonor who leads his rich friends to bankroll a candidate or cause. Their dining companion, Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks Animation, raised millions for the Obama campaign in 2008, and the fate of their project—and, potentially, the presidency—hinged on convincing him to raise millions more in 2012. They wanted him to take the lead in funding a new super-PAC to support president Obama's reelection.
Burton, Sweeney, Begala, and Garin didn't like super-PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts. Nor did the president, who had ripped them as a "threat to our democracy." Nor did Katzenberg, who felt that the 2010 Citizens United decision was a huge blunder. And yet here he was, listening to a pitch that Begala had rehearsed on the flight to LA. It was hard to think of a presidential election, Begala said, with more at stake. With the economy on the mend, health care reform on the books but not yet enacted, the wars in the Middle East winding down…
"I know all that," Katzenberg interrupted. "Tell me your business plan." At 60, Katzenberg, who stands 5-foot-5, cut a lean and fit figure ("On background, he's incredibly buff," says a friend of his), his clean-shaven face taut and tanned, with a disarming, horsey smile. What remained of his graying hair was trimmed to a fine stubble. He wore a V-neck sweater over a T-shirt, slacks, and sneakers—his Hollywood CEO uniform—and he grilled the four operatives with the same intensity he would a potential business partner. What was their fundraising target, and how would they reach it? How would they spend their money—on broadcast, cable TV, online? Who would be their research director? Their ad maker? How much would they pay themselves? What was their strategy?
The answer to that last one was simple: Destroy Mitt Romney. The Republican primaries were nearly a year away, but the four politicos believed that Romney would end up the nominee, so they would focus on him and ignore the rest of the field. They would attack him using the same approach employed by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and other groups in 2004. "Just as the conservatives took away Kerry's war record," Begala said, "we're going to take away Romney's strongest asset: his business record."
Katzenberg, who is worth an estimated $800 million, liked what he heard. By the end of dinner, he pledged $2 million to the super-PAC, later named Priorities USA Action, and promised more money down the road—no strings attached. He also offered to tap his network of wealthy friends and colleagues. And he picked up the tab.Begala had found his bell cow. "It was the most important meeting of the entire campaign," he told me recently. "If you tell people, 'Jeffrey's behind this, Jeffrey's helping us,' man, that really helps."
Katzenberg's investment paid off big for Obama. Priorities zeroed in on Romney's time at the private equity firm Bain Capital, cutting a series of ads depicting him as a real-life C. Montgomery Burns. In one, a union worker recounted how he was ordered to build a stage at his Indiana paper factory; days later, Bain executives strode across it to announce they were closing the plant and firing everyone. It was rated the most effective ad of the campaign; as Republican message maker Frank Luntz would say, "That ad alone has killed Mitt Romney in Ohio."
Katzenberg gave $3.15 million to Democratic super-PACs during the 2012 cycle—almost 30 times more than his total reported giving in 2008. (There's no telling how much he might have given to other groups that don't disclose their donors.) He steered millions more to Priorities—his friend and business partner, Steven Spielberg, gave $1 million, for instance. He hosted numerous fundraisers for Obama and raised more for the president than anyone else in California. All told, Katzenberg gave or raised more than $30 million to reelect Obama, helping Hollywood make up for Wall Street's plummeting financial support of the president. And that's not counting the funds he marshaled for other Democrats, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and California Gov. Jerry Brown."It's hard to think of any other donor going back to the [1990s] or even further who did what he did," says Bill Allison of the Sunlight Foundation. "He's like soy sauce in Chinese food: He's everywhere."...
-- Mother Jones
Like Hollywood, Democrats in Congress were also freaked out that their (personal) costs were going up. Unlike Hollywood, they didn't merely support Obama and his law plus finance his re-ecletion, they just passed Obamacare into law. The Democrats on the Hill demanded an opt-out. They got one, but not legislatively. Obama simply ordered the Department of Personnel Management to write one with the American taxpayers picking up 75% of the tab. Average salary on the Hill; over $72K. Average American taxpayer salary;$46,326.
Hill gets Obamacare fix
Lawmakers and staff can breathe easy — their health care tab is not going to soar next year.
The Office of Personnel Management, under heavy pressure from Capitol Hill, will issue a ruling that says the government can continue to make a contribution to the health care premiums of members of Congress and their aides, according to several Hill sources.
A White House official confirmed the deal and said the proposed regulations will be issued next week.
Just Wednesday, POLITICO reported that President Barack Obama told Democratic senators that he was personally involved in finding a solution.
The problem was rooted in the original text of the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) inserted a provision which said members of Congress and their aides must be covered by plans “created” by the law or “offered through an exchange.” Until now, OPM had not said if the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program could contribute premium payments toward plans on the exchange. If payments stopped, lawmakers and aides would have faced thousands of dollars in additional premium payments each year. Under the old system, the government contributed nearly 75 percent of premium payments.
Obama’s involvement in solving this impasse was unusual, to say the least. But it came after serious griping from both sides of the aisle about the potential of a “brain drain.” The fear, as told by sources in both parties, was that aides would head for more lucrative jobs, spooked by the potential for spiking health premiums.
There was a certain sense of urgency, too, since enrollment in the exchanges was set to begin Oct. 1. There were discussions of a legislative fix — attaching language to a must-pass bill to fix the problem. But that would’ve been too difficult in today’s paralyzed Washington.
White House officials acknowledged that a fix was needed. But they knew that once they dealt with it through a regulation, some Republicans would use it against them – even though most of their party was privately obsessing over it.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in a statement Thursday night, touted the law’s benefits and Democrats’ efforts to educate consumers.
“Members of Congress and their staffs must enroll in health marketplaces as the Affordable Care Act requires,” she wrote. “As we continue our work to ensure the smooth implementation of this law and look forward to the start of enrollment on October 1st, we will continue our efforts this August to educate consumers on the law’s provisions and tout the critical benefits already in place for millions of Americans.”
Anger was already evident as well. Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) tweeted a link to POLITICO’s story Thursday night, with the comment: “Outrageous exemption for Congress.”
Outrageous? No, audacious as well as par for the course. Ah well, Obamacare's overreach is only within our borders. So Hollywood can move all of its production to China to avoid the new law :
Speaking at a Fortune Global Forum panel, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said he could ‘confirm’ that the animation studio – which has already established the Shanghai-based Oriental DreamWorks company with an assortment of powerful state-backed Chinese companies – will be working with Wanda … Wang Jianlin, the real-estate mogul whose company is the largest cinema operator in China and also the owner of North American cinema chain AMC, said Wanda has already ‘reached an initial co-operation agreement’ with DreamWorks Animation … The two CEOs did not reveal further details of the planned partnership.
-Hollywood Reporter June 2013
Ah well, as DeNiro playing Al Capone said, "Life goes on." It may be curtains for California's economy which has been on life support for some time now.