“Hollywood is like life—you face it with the sum total of your equipment.”
When Spin Cycle read that Mayor Jerry Sanders had spent Friday up in Los Angeles rubbing elbows with movie- and TV-studio honchos while pitching San Diego as a primo movie-making location, two thoughts occurred: 1) Now there's a mayoral perk that would make anyone's head explode in ego-pumping Technicolor. And 2) Is this Sanders guy the ultimate Salesman of the Year, or what?
Spin Cycle has to pinch itself from time to time, recalling the dark days of only a few years back when retired judge Dick Murphy ruled the mayoralty as Darth Vader defended the Dark Side—with nary a smile, with a certain air of superiority and a ton of smugness. No offense, Dick, but you were one downer cat. And in the end, you ran one loose ship.
Now San Diego finds itself midstream in the Sanders Legacy-Building Experiment, which, we're told, will be good for us, will shape us up and tighten our belts while at the same time creating a firm financial footing for the future.Not sure how you pitch that story to Hollywood, but, hey, maybe it's one of those sleepers that takes Tinseltown by storm! Hey, waitaminute—this could be San Diego's big ticket out of Financial Palookaville: Sell the city's movie rights to the highest bidder! It's perfect! And we certainly have the best pitchman for the job!
Ext. San Diego Bay Bridge. Day.
Wearing his signature Ray-Bans and a modestly unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, Mayor Jerry Sanders gazes in wonderment at the scenery to the north: a bustling Downtown skyline gleaming in the sun, boats scurrying like mosquitoes atop San Diego Bay, neighborhoods pulsing with frenetic activity.
He looks back at the camera, and tears stream out from under his sunglasses.Sanders (gently wiping tears away): Gosh darnit, I love this town!Quick cut to a whirring montage of images: Sanders whizzing along I-5 in a convertible Porsche. Sanders wagging a finger at a group of youthful beachgoers as they unpack their beer bong. Sanders looking satisfied as he ascends the summit of Cowles Mountain. A smiling Sanders greeting everyone with a handshake as they cross the U.S.-Mexico border. A solemn Sanders singing hymns at an appropriately non-denominational yet visually appealing local church.
Int. Mayor's office. Day
Sanders is seated at his desk, which is adorned with family photos, various papers neatly stacked and a steaming mug of coffee.Sanders: Hello, Hollywood movie moguls. I'm Jerry Sanders, the really busy mayor of San Diego. How busy am I, you ask? So busy that this is only my fourth cup of coffee today, and by now I'm usually putting away twice that! But seriously, I'm here to talk to you today for one reason—to sell you on the story of San Diego! I tell ya, it's a blockbuster!Now, Spin Cycle won't bore you with the rest of the script, but just be assured that it boasts a fair amount of romance, conflict, sex (a tasteful smattering), redemption, more conflict, financial shenanigans, Bad News Bears-style sports hi-jinks and, of course, vintage footage of Michael Jackson appearing anywhere in San Diego.
No doubt, the financial-shenanigans portion of the movie would be the most challenging to transfer to celluloid (if, in fact, celluloid is still being used—hey, Spin Cycle's no Anders Wright, for heaven's sake!).
Perhaps using the ol' Hollywood trick of mixing movie metaphors would help the process along. Say, Wall Street meets Howard the Duck, or Michael Clayton meets The Omen, or—oh yes!—The Money Pit meets Snakes on a Plane.
Well, you get the drift. Spin Cycle did try to contact the Mayor's office to see what Sanders' excursion last week to L.A. had produced, consummated and/or got the ball rolling on, but no response as of press time.
Cathy Anderson, president and CEO of the San Diego Film Commission, told Spin Cycle that the mayor's participation was “huge” for her organization, which began as an arm of the local chamber of commerce but since 1997 has forged its own path in attracting film crews of all stripes to San Diego.
Film commissions hobnob all the time with Hollywood types, but rarely do mayors tag along for the ride. Anderson considers the addition of Sanders groundbreaking.
“It's the first time in San Diego's history that a mayor has wanted to do this,” she said, “and I think it shows that our mayor cares about this industry and about the economic benefits that come with it.”
Maybe it's genetic. Anderson noted that the mayor's brother, Thomas Sanders, is a well-regarded, Oscar-nominated production designer with credits that include Bram Stoker's Dracula, Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan. Perhaps this explains the mayor's proclivity for the spotlight.
Anderson added that “more than one” studio production head mentioned that “it means a lot to have a mayor show up with a film commission and show their interest.” And don't think this was some boondoggle—not one studio tour, not one taping of Conan O'Brien, not even a fancy Beverly Hills lunch for this mayor, Anderson said.
“It's a hard thing to pull off,” Anderson said. “I mean, it's an all-day thing: Got up early, drove up, spent all day, didn't get home till 7:30 or 8 that night. It was all business. Even for lunch we met with the publisher of The Hollywood Reporter. We wanted to know how to engage more stories about San Diego and filmmaking.”
So, will there be a Hollywood ending for financially strapped San Diego? Business is pretty dead now, as it is in most of California, which loses some 70 percent of film productions to other states and countries, Anderson said.
But let's give Sanders a fighting chance. After all, it wasn't long ago that eight—yes, eight!—different telenovelas were filmed here. And if it's madcap soap operas the world wants, you could do a lot worse than betting on San Diego.Got a tip? Send it to email@example.com.