Curtain comes to a close on Houston Film Commission office in LA

By Mario Diaz - Reporter

HOUSTON - It's the reason the Houston Film Commission sent one of its employees, Sharon Adams, to live and work in Los Angeles nearly four years ago: "Our core mission is to sell Houston and that's everything we do -- (it) goes behind selling Houston."

Adams was named the commission's LA representative.

Her fancy title came with a lot of perks, including a $4,400-a-month stipend for Adams' office and condo near Beverly Hills. It also included an expense account for pricey meals and travel, not to mention her eye-popping annual salary of nearly $175,000 a year -- all of it paid with public dollars.

The gig was quite a ride for Adams, but as Channel 2 Investigates discovered, she wasn't able to land a single major television series or movie to be filmed in Houston during her nearly four-year tenure.

The Houston Film Commission is run by the Houston First Corporation. It's a government entity funded by the hotel tax and downtown parking fees.

After our investigation aired, CEO Brenda Bazan doubled down on the LA office and Adams' role, saying she'd stick with it through 2020.

Bazan, told Channel 2 Investigates in late May of last year, “We're using a business model -- a proven business model that has been successful."

However, that model has burned through more than $800,000 in public money and it appears to be on the cutting room floor for the time being.

“I'm not sure it's necessarily dead," said Rick Ferguson, executive director of the Houston Film Commission. "It will not be continued as of right now, no."

Houston First revealed Adams suddenly resigned in June.

The corporation then turned out the lights on the LA office. City Council members critical of the initiative in 2018, told us last week they embrace the script change.

"I'm glad that the plug has been pulled, that this is done and that all these issues are no longer hanging over Houston First," Michael Kubosh said.

Council Member Dave Martin added, "I think it's in the best interest of Houston First to not go down that path anymore."​​​​​​​

However, there is one key question that remains unanswered.

Right after our reports aired, exposing the lack of film production for Houston, Adams went on Channel 13. Suddenly, the city had landed a major film deal and it was a big one.

The deal planned for 20 movies to be shot in Houston in 24 months. Days later, Channel 2 Investigates pressed Bazan for concrete specifics on the deal. Bazan stated, "I know there are a couple of scripts on the desk of the Houston Film Commission as we speak. That much I do know." However, nothing concrete seemed to come of it.

Following a public meeting last week at Houston First, we asked Ferguson what happened to the deal for 20 films in 24 months.

"That is still being developed," he said.

Ferguson did admit there has not been any contact with the production company since last year.

In the end, the Houston Film Commission's LA office appears to be just another Hollywood flop.

Ferguson confirmed as much when we inquired about any project, asking whether it was a major television series or a movie that came to Houston as a result of the LA office.

“Not to date," Ferguson said.

Nonetheless, he said they are still following up on leads generated out of the Los Angeles office with the hopes that a project materializes.

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