Backstage: Gordon Sondland Plays Key Role in Success of Oregon TV & Film

 

Jose Behar is calling from an Oregon-based location shoot for Electric Entertainment’s upcoming television series “The Librarians.” The producer’s admiration for Vince Porter comes across loud and clear, even over a sometimes-fuzzy cellphone connection.

Porter, the former executive director of the Oregon Governor’s Office of Film & Television, was instrumental in attracting Dean Devlin’s production company to the state with the second season of its TNT series “Leverage”; it was a sort of ground-zero event for the boom in film and especially television production throughout the state—with a mix of economic incentives, an abundance of local technical and creative talent, and Porter’s own reputation, based on his 12 years at Showtime and tenure as its vice president of production.

After its first season was shot in Los Angeles, a plan to move the second season of “Leverage” to Canada was dropped after meetings with Porter, then-governor Ted Kulongoski, and Oregon Film Board Chair Gordon Sondland convinced Devlin to shoot in Oregon instead. Since then, several TV series have set up shop in the state—notably “Grimm,” “Portlandia,” and now “The Librarians,” a spinoff of the popular made-for-TV movies.

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After more than five years as executive director for the Portland-based OFTV, Porter accepted Gov. John Kitzhaber’s request that he come to the state capitol, Salem, and serve as policy advisor on jobs and the economy. A search is currently under way for his replacement, who will be chosen by the Oregon Film Board’s board of directors: Sondland, screenwriter Cynthia Whitcomb, filmmaker Gus Van Sant, commercial producer Juliana Lukasik, and “Grimm” producer Steve Oster. Sources close to the Office say that the recruitment process may not finish until July.

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