Entertainment attorney Ken Ziffren was officially named as L.A.'s new film czar on Monday.
Ziffren, the founding member of law firm Ziffren Brittenham, steps into the role once held by the late Tom Sherak, who passed away last month, following his long-term battle with prostate cancer.
Ziffren's role could be crucial in raising support from state legislators on increasing the amount of tax credits for films. Industry experts have rallied for an increase in state incentives, saying that the L.A. area is losing movie and TV production to other states like New York, which offer more generous tax credit incentives.
"We must vigorously compete with other states and countries that are attracting our industry in ever growing numbers or we will risk the disappearance of more and more middle class jobs that are critical to the lives of the people in Los Angeles and California," Ziffren said at a press conference on Monday. He said people in middle class jobs that are impacted include carpenters, painters and electricians.
Ziffren has years of experience working as an attorney in the entertainment industry, serving as a mediator during the Writer's Guild strike in 1988, working on behalf of the Starz channel, and as a special outside counsel to the NFL.
"Ken knows how to bring so many moving pieces together and to get the job done. That is exactly what I need," said L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti at Monday's press conference.
Ziffren said he plans to continue the foundation that was laid out by Sherak, Rajiv Dalal, the director of the mayor's office of Motion Picture and Television Production and former MPAA head Bob Pisano.
Ziffren is also an adjunct faculty member at UCLA School of Law as well as co-chairman of the UCLA School of Law Board of Advisors and chairman of the school's Entertainment & Media Law Program.
He said he doesn't see his new role as a conflict of interest with his law firm position.