Amid gloom, Detroit glistens as Hollywood locale

Tue Sep 21, 2010 2:05pm EDT
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By David Bailey

DETROIT (Reuters) - An unmarked Detroit police car makes a screeching stop outside a downtown bus terminal and the homicide detective dashes out to search for a suspect.

Then the director yells cut, and actor Michael Imperioli and the dozens of extras posing as police and passersby for the new TV series "Detroit 1-8-7" saunter back into position to do it all again from another angle.

Welcome to Detroit, a half century into Motown's decline and just months into a still controversial boom that has made it Hollywood's bargain destination for filming.

Carolyn Tolley, who watched under a blue awning on a recent shoot for "Detroit 1-8-7," credits Michigan's rich tax incentives for movie production for keeping her working after jobs in advertising for the auto industry here dried up.

"I was leaving. I wouldn't be here for sure," said Tolley, a script supervisor who had been planning to move to Arizona before Hollywood came to her doorstep with a raft of projects.

Tolley points to the gypsy convoy of work trucks on hand for her shoot to argue that state tax incentives for production are succeeding in trickling down much-needed jobs and income.

"It's about how this industry feeds so many other industries here," she said.

Detroit's population has dropped to less than half of its 1950s peak. Almost a third of the city is abandoned. One in six residents is out of work, and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is pushing a plan to shrink the city by encouraging residents to pull back into the healthiest remaining neighborhoods.   Continued...