Baker, Ahles & Kaskovich

Fort Worth Chamber lobbying to keep state film incentives

In September, Red Sanders traveled as far as China to promote his Fort Worth film production company, Red Productions. But last week he traveled to Austin to make sure the movie and film industry stays strong in Texas.

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and some city officials have joined forces with Sanders to make sure legislators know how important incentives offered by the Texas Film Commission are for the local and state economy.

They’re concerned that as cost-conscious legislators duke out how the state’s money gets spent in the next budget, the incentives will be axed.

Sanders, president of Red Productions, a 10-year-old production company that specializes in such work as television commercials, corporate communications, music videos and documentaries, was in Austin last week meeting with freshman legislators. Film production creates jobs in the state and as a by-product tourism increases when areas are featured in a film.

Fort Worth has benefited, too, and Sanders said he wants to keep it that way. Far too often filming takes place in other states with greater incentives, including Louisiana and New Mexico, he said.

David Berzina, the chamber’s executive vice president of economic development, agreed that the incentives matter.

Moreover, Fort Worth is committed to building a “creative class,” and making sure film industry types are included is key.

“Fort Worth really has some cool locations to film,” Berzina said. When those places are placed in people’s memories by watching a movie, “that’s advertising that’s very hard to match. That’s how serious this is for us. Let’s don’t lose what we have.”

The incentives include rebates on a percentage of a project’s eligible expenditures, including wages paid to Texas residents as well as sales tax exemptions and refunds on the state hotel tax.

Six Flags, Gerstlauer drop lawsuits

Six Flags Entertainment Corp. and Gerstlauer Amusement Rides said they no longer wish to sue each other.

The Grand Prairie owner of Six Flags Over Texas and the German company that made the train cars used on the Texas Giant roller coaster became cross-plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by a Dallas woman who was killed when she fell from the ride at the Arlington amusement park in July 2013.

Six Flags said recently that it had reached a settlement with the family. The case was scheduled for trial in January in Tarrant County state district court.

In a court filing last week, the defendants said they were no longer pursuing claims against each other. Six Flags said Gerstlauer was responsible for the woman’s fatal fall, and Gerstlauer said Six Flags was at fault.

Both companies said they would pay their own court costs, litigation expenses and attorneys’ fees, the filing said.

The settlement came after depositions were taken from Gerstlauer’s top executive in the family-owned business.

CiCi’s adds some pepperoni and more

If you’ve tried the “endless” pizza at CiCi’s and found the offerings wanting, the North Texas-based chain wants y’all to know that it has seriously upgraded the savory Italian pies.

What’s different?

CiCi’s has doubled the amount of cheese. The pepperoni count (yes, someone audits the dry sausage slices) has climbed from 20 to 38 on a 14-inch buffet pizza, itself up from 12 inches. Toppings are now spread closer to the edge, and garlic butter has been added to the crust edge before baking.

Of course, all of the increases may affect the belt line.

Calories on a modest-sized slice — one-tenth of a 14-inch pie — have risen from 160 to 190 on a pepperoni, somehow from 130 to 180 on a veggie, and 150 to 180 for a cheese pizza.

“This is just the beginning of our work to improve our food,” Darin Harris, chief executive of CiCi’s, a limited partnership in Coppell, promised in a prepared statement.

“And our guests will continue to see changes as we pursue our goal offer ‘Remarkable Products.’” (The capitalization and quotation marks are his.)

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727

Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST

Steve Kaskovich, 817-390-7773

Twitter: @stevekasko

Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718

Twitter: @bshlachter

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