Saturday, July 28, 2012

Rep. McComas rents out warehouse to TV crew. Looks suspicious, seems inappropriate. Probably is.

Verne Strickland / Blogmaster / July 29, 2012

Danny McComas

Third area legislator adds income from film industry. Oh, Danny Boy, we hardly knew ye! Good sleuth work, Pat Gannon!

Published: Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 3:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 3:59 p.m.
A warehouse on U.S. 421 owned by state Rep. Danny McComas has been converted into a studio for the new NBC TV series "Revolution," which recently began filming in the Wilmington area.
McComas is one of three area state lawmakers receiving money from the surge in the film and television industry in Southeastern North Carolina.

The legislators have all supported the state's film incentives package, which reimburses production companies for 25 percent of their expenses in North Carolina.
The state's incentives package is credited with an influx of new movies and TV shows in the past couple of years.
A longtime Republican member of the General Assembly who also sits on the N.C. Film Council, McComas said the warehouse building was listed for sale or lease with Cape Fear Commercial, which handled the deal with Bonanza Productions, the "Revolution" producer.
"They're the ones who made all the arrangements," he said of the real estate company. "They came to us with this and we said fine."
The 50,000-plus-square-foot warehouse at 3700 U.S. 421 North is owned by Buena Vista Sun LLC, which McComas owns and manages. The building, McComas said, was vacant for about six months. Bonanza Productions, he said, signed a one-year lease beginning this month. He declined to give the price.
Mike Brown, a broker with Cape Fear Commercial, also declined to discuss lease details but said: "It's not uncommon for movie scouts to call commercial real estate brokers and landlords if they have a need that can be filled."
According to online New Hanover County tax records, Buena Vista Sun purchased the building for $980,000 in September 2000. It is down the road from McComas' trucking business, MCO Transport.
McComas said the production company was also considering Atlanta or Vancouver, British Columbia, for filming but chose Wilmington instead. McComas has long been a supporter of the film industry in North Carolina. In this year's legislative session, he sponsored a measure extending the film incentives legislation for a year, from the end of 2013 to the end of 2014. That means productions that spend money in the state in 2014 can qualify for the tax incentives.
The StarNews previously reported that "Revolution" had inked a one-year deal to lease space in the former Coty cosmetics plant in Rocky Point. But Doug M. Faris of Charlotte-based Binswanger Co., which is marketing that space, said Thursday that the deal fell through when final terms couldn't be worked out.
"I hope the show's successful," he said.
J.J. Abrams, best known for ABC's hit series "Lost," is the executive producer of "Revolution," a sci-fi adventure series slated to air Mondays on NBC beginning this fall.
State Rep. Susi Hamilton, D-New Hanover, and state Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, also are doing business with film companies. Hamilton is renting her house in downtown Wilmington to an employee of "We're the Millers," a New Line Cinema comedy starring Jennifer Aniston that is filming in the Port City. Hamilton's father, Jim Holladay, owns a company in Wilmington that rents equipment to the film industry.
Rabon is renting out a boat slip he owns on the waterfront in Southport to the company behind "Safe Haven," the movie based on the Nicholas Sparks book of the same name. The film is being shot in front of Rabon's house.
The company is renting about a half-dozen boat slips to use for the film. Rabon has said he has a contract for the slip rental that will pay him $50 a day for up to 82 days, or a maximum $4,100.
On Wednesday, Rabon's backyard was filled with filming equipment, including screens, lighting equipment, generators, crates and dollies. Rabon is also renting out his yard for $100 a day for about 18 days, he said Thursday.
Representatives from government watchdog groups have said they believe lawmakers benefiting from an industry they support in the Legislature is OK as long as they aren't getting the contracts largely because of their positions and as long as they aren't getting special deals or gaining benefits not available to the general public.
The lawmakers say their elected positions have nothing to do with their business with production companies.
Patrick Gannon: (919) 854-6115
On Twitter: @StarNewsPat