Head of New York City film, TV production talks expansion, diversity

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Film and TV production is on the rise in New York City, and its importance was underlined when Mayor Bill de Blasio asked a powerful member of his administration to make sure that continues.

Julie Menin began the year running the city's Department of Consumer Affairs before switching jobs in February, and production was up 50 percent in 2015 compared to 2014. And the city's new commissioner of media and entertainment hopes this year will be even better.

As "The Intern," Robert DeNiro made us laugh opposite Anne Hathaway as his boss. But to the city, it was no laughing matter:

"'The Intern' was shot in 17 different neighborhoods in Brooklyn, injecting over $45 million into those neighborhoods," Menin said. "Supporting the local deli, the dry cleaner, the lumber yard, so this is really important economically."

Production pumped almost $9 billion into the city's economy in 2015, but not everyone is a fan.

"This has just taken over the whole neighborhood," one woman said while Will Smith was making "Men in Black 3."

Protests led to the removal of the star's two giant trailers, but in fact, the number of complaints about filming are low.

"We always, at the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, want to strike a balance between community needs and production," Menin said. "We don't think they're mutually exclusive."

De Blasio has broadened the reach of Menin's office.

"What's so exciting about the expanded role of our office now is it cuts across all different media categories," Menin said.

And that now extends to the Broadway Association.

"There's a real focus on inclusion and increasing access," Menin said.

Shows like "Hamilton" have brought a new diversity to "The Great White Way," but elsewhere, much more needs to be done.

"We're working real closely with labor on diversification," Menin said. "We have internship programs that we're working on with the unions both in theater and films and TV, precisely to that point."

Menin said she will be announcing several major initiatives aimed at increasing diversity behind the cameras, an issue very much in the spotlight after complaints about this lack of diversity at the Oscars this year.

Copyright © 2019 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.