Is Georgia The New Hollywood For Kids? Variety Thinks So. - CATEGORY Report update: TITLE

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Is Georgia the new Hollywood for kids? Variety thinks so.

Conventional wisdom holds that if you want to be a star, you pack your bags and move to Hollywood. Now, however, none other than the venerable showbiz publication Variety is questioning that conventional wisdom -- and wondering out loud if Georgia is the new place to go for young actors seeking fame and fortune.

"It used to be everybody wanted to go to L.A., and we were always trying to get our clients representation there. But now all those people want to come here," Rebecca Shrager of the Atlanta talent agency People Store says in a story published this week by Variety. The headline: "Georgia could be the new Hollywood for young acting talent."

The Variety story lands amid a major production boom in Georgia, which started after the Peach State adopted production incentives modeled after those that turned Louisiana into a once-thriving film and TV hub. When the Louisiana Legislature tinkered with its program in 2015, resulting unease among producers prompted a bulk of local production shift to the Atlanta area.

That saw production activity in Georgia rise from $67.7 million in 2016 to $2.7 billion in the 2017 fiscal year, which ended June 30, according to the Variety report. Among recent high-profile projects to shoot there are "Spider-Man: Homecoming," "Baby Driver," "The Fate of the Furious," "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" and the second season of "Stranger Things."

Helping matters for local talent is the fact that hiring Georgia kids -- as well as those from throughout the Southeast, including Louisiana -- saves on travel, per diem and lodging costs when compared to expenses incurred when hiring West Coast actors. In addition, local actors haven't been "Hollywoodized," with Variety describing them as "less over-the-top and precocious than their L.A. counterparts."

"The kids here are not pushed as heavily to that Disney Channel tone because there is so much drama TV work," said Rita Harrell of Big Picture Casting in Decatur, Ga. "I think the acting schools push them to a more natural feel."

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Is Georgia the new Hollywood for kids? Variety thinks so.
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