Tulare County Makes Pitch to Hollywood Stars

Andria Rousseau, Mike Washam, Marilu Henner, Gene Rousseau and Caroline Arron. Photo by Tulare County Film Commission.
Andria Rousseau, Mike Washam, Marilu Henner, Gene Rousseau and Caroline Arron. Photo by Tulare County Film Commission.

The Tulare County Film Commission was busy at events surrounding the recent Emmy Awards, talking to Hollywood decision-makers about bringing their film projects to the county and offering them products grown here.

“The idea was to literally have them taste our county,” said Tulare County Film Commissioner Eric Coyne, explaining the county’s strategy that weekend. “You get 30 seconds to make an impression, so we would tell people that we grow virtually everything except coconuts, coffee and bananas.”

Coyne, along with Mike Washam, county economic development director, and Jean Rousseau, county administrative officer, and his wife, Andria, represented Tulare County, making sure that those visiting their booth knew the advantages of filming here.

“We don’t charge any filming fees,” said Coyne, adding that the county is more interested in bringing movie, television and commercial production here for the money spent on meals, hotel rooms and shopping. “Anson Williams (an actor on

“Happy Days” and now an independent producer) was very interested because we said we’re only a three or three-and-a-half hour drive. You shoot here for a few days and you go home on the weekend. You don’t have to go to Montana. We can be Montana.”

Another producer wanted to do a camping film, and had discussed the project with county representatives at Oscar events earlier this year. Coyne suggested Balch Park as a location, telling him, “It’s like Yosemite but without all the people.”

Coyne considers the trip very productive. “We had three solid prospect leads,” he said.

Thirty-five businesses had tables at the pre-Emmy event, including Stafford’s Famous Chocolates from Porterville; Jewels by Tina, based in Three Rivers; Essential Potion from Tulare; and Setton Farms of Terra Bella.

The county’s presence was assisted by Suzi Picaso, a former Lindsay city council member who now works for the Borgnine Group, doing make-up for celebrities.

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