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Obama touts entertainment industry at DreamWorks Animation in Glendale

November 26, 2013
  • President Barack Obama waves goodbye to the crowd after speaking for about half hour at DreamWorks in Glendale on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013.
President Barack Obama waves goodbye to the crowd after… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

After touring DreamWorks Animation and meeting film industry representatives, President Obama told a crowd of about 2,000 people at the company’s expansive Glendale campus on Tuesday that the entertainment industry has been a bright spot during a protracted financial crisis.

“This is one of America’s economic engines,” Obama said, adding that U.S. officials should strive to keep it that way by giving the industry a competitive edge.

PHOTOS: President Obama visits DreamWorks Animation in Glendale

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the motion picture, sound recording and broadcasting industries added 4,100 jobs in October, or a 0.6% increase.

Since the end of the recession, those industries have added 9,500 jobs, or a 5.5% hike, according to the bureau.

Also, DreamWorks’ employment base has risen by nearly 50% since Jan. 1, 2008, company officials said.

While Obama said entertainment is one of the country’s biggest exports, tax incentives are still luring productions away from Hollywood and even out of the country, causing growing concern for industry insiders and local political officials.

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Before Obama’s speech, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), whose congressional district includes Glendale, said the federal government can take several steps to improve the film industry — extend tax breaks, protect against piracy and open traditionally limited markets, such as China, which caps screenings of American films.

“At the end of the day, the studios want to stay here…but they need to go where it’s competitive,” Schiff said.

In addition to federal incentives, state lawmakers also need to improve California’s tax incentives to keep jobs in the state, Schiff said. He plans to host a forum next month with state lawmakers and local officials to discuss a more productive tax-incentive program.

Obama was invited to speak at DreamWorks by one of his top donors, the studio’s chief executive, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and he joked that he’d enjoy working at the Mediterranean-style facility and can’t wait to see DreamWorks’ next movie.

While the president’s main focus was the economy — including the improvement of the manufacturing industry and wireless infrastructure — he covered several topics during his roughly 30-minute speech, including the entertainment industry’s role in diplomacy and a need to refrain from glorifying gun violence.

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