The Charlie Sheen Effect – A Louisiana Story

Charlie Sheen's First TwitPic
Charlie Sheen’s First TwitPic
Editor’s Note: This post is four years old but, is prescient for our current legislative hurdles. If you’ve been living under a pirogue lately, or still hung over from Mardi Gras, you probably haven’t heard about The Charlie Sheen Effect. Or, unfortunately, maybe you have. Chuck has managed to pull practically every headline off the main stream media frontpage into his own kingdom of Sober Valley Lodge (the affectionate name he has given his Mullholland Drive, Los Angeles compound). Now, if you’re wondering what Charlie Sheen has to do with Louisiana and its entertainment industry, just sit back, put an ice bag of crawfish on your head and follow along. This is a Louisiana story of how the state’s entertainment tax incentives affect our local economies and a strong argument of why anyone opposing them is, well, ‘not winning’ and a ‘troll.’

The Actual Charlie Sheen Effect

If you’re still living in that camp down by the bayou, and don’t have radio or television, or any modern form of outside communication, then suffice it to say, Charlie Sheen is a film and television actor. He was (and probably still is) the highest-paid television star on television. He had a TV show and now has a web show. Sort of like Conan O’Brien. He recently got into a hurricane-breeze of trouble when he embarked upon a bizarre adventure to prove to the TV world (and all territories in perpetuity; and throughout the universe; and all media known and unknown) he is a winner. The fallout is several hundred people have been put out of work, local Burbank, California businesses have seen a marked decrease in business, oh and lawsuits are going to fly just like the pigs did when the New Orleans Saints went to the Super Bowl. You see, when a crucial lead in a TV show just, well, walks off a show, it affects hundreds of people. The crew. The vendors who supply goods and services to the show (directly and indirectly). And, believe it or not, the viewing audiences. Oh, and those mean ole nasty TV studios.
Take for instance the local eateries surrounding the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank. They have seen a drop-off in lunch time and dinner time crowds from the crew of Two and a Half Men, as well as the studio departments which work with the show. Local vendors who supply the lot and the show with filmmaking supplies, television goods and services, have lost the revenue streams of providing these valuable services. While these businesses certainly have other clients and customers, CBS’s top-rated sit-com Two and a Half Men provided a whole heck of a lot of gumbo for everyone. And now it’s gone because of one guy. Okay, if you want to argue CBS’s side, Warner Bros.’ side, the show producer’s side, Charlie’s side, his ‘two smokin’ hotties’ sides, then go right ahead. However, with regards to a multiplying-effect of business which Two and a Half Men provided, what ever side you argue, there has been a significant decrease in work and revenue with those involved. Just ask any of the crew members who worked on that show.

The Charlie Sheen Effect Goes Hollywood South

Louisiana enacted in 2002 a tax incentive program with which to lure new business to the Pelican State. Though in the early stages there were crooks involved with some of the tax incentives given out, which made for sensational headlines, taken as a whole, Louisiana’s entertainment tax incentive programs have been a resounding success. This state is No. 3 behind California and New York (respectively) when it comes to television and film production revenue generation in the United States. It is my prediction, in the coming years, Louisiana will overtake New York. When a film or television production company comes to Louisiana to produce a project (or, many) they employ locals as well as intrastate workers. No. Not those on the I-10. These workers have to eat. They have to have places to stay. They need to buy clothes. They need to buy goods and services from local businesses. And, yes, they need medical care after Mardi Gras. Rookies. Film and television workers in Louisiana spend their money where they need to support themselves. If you’ve looked around town, even in the smaller cities throughout the state, these crews spend their money on things they need and want. I haven’t even begun to discuss the expenditures the production companies make, yet. This multiplying-effect in turn, generates new opportunities for other businesses to take on more stock/inventory, hire some more employees when they can, and in turn, spend their new money on things they need and want. Another consequence of the entertainment tax incentives program is it attracts new businesses to support these production companies which come to town. A special digital video effects company. A local New Orleans production company. And, even a Hollywood cameraman friend of mine Thomas McKenney [Editor’s Note: Tom passed away doing what he loved in New Orleans]. He sold his house in Los Angeles and moved to New Orleans for the opportunities in the entertainment business. Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and other actors didn’t have to buy houses and move their families to New Orleans. But they did. Maybe to get away from Chuck? I don’t know.

Winning In Hollywood South

So much like the Charlie Sheen Effect affected businesses in Burbank, so too does the entertainment business affect Louisiana. Yet, without all the nasty aftertaste. Or, what ever is in his Tiger’s Blood. If you want to argue Louisiana taxpayer money shouldn’t go to the greedy Hollywood types, yet rather go to the schools or [fill-in-the-blank-here-with-your-pet-project], then you’ll have a long bayou to drain because the entertainment industry is flourishing. It’s flourishing because we’ve worked through all the bad details in the laws to flush out a good solid program here. There are a lot of businesses in this state which welcome the added revenue streams. And if you’re still not convinced of the Charlie Sheen Effect, well then, you’re just not winning! For your consideration. Stanley B. Gill Founder and Editor-In-Chief