De Blasio Appoints PBS Exec Cynthia López as Head of TV and Film Office

By Colby Hamilton on April 18, 2014 3:51pm 

 The new commissioner for the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Cynthia López, during the announcement of her appointment on April 18, 2014.
The new commissioner for the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Cynthia López, during the announcement of her appointment on April 18, 2014.
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DNAinfo/Colby Hamilton

NAVY YARD — Accomplished documentarian and PBS executive Cynthia López has been tapped to lead the city's Office of Media and Entertainment, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday.

De Blasio said the office needed someone who “understood the nuts and bolts of the media and entertainment industry.”

“It was obviously essential to find a leader who understood the everyday life of the industry right here in this city,” de Blasio said during a press conference at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn on Friday.

And he reiterated López’s status as the first person of color to head the department, as well as her coverage of progressive issues through her recent work at the Emmy-winning PBS documentary series "POV," as evidence she was also committed to his liberal policy agendas  — a priority for the de Blasio administration.

“As much as she’s been a constant professional, and someone with over 20 years of experience in this industry…she’s also someone who you can tell, immediately, has the heart and soul of an advocate for progressive change,” de Blasio said.

López takes over an office widely praised for expanding television, film and other media production in the city under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“This city has been so deeply committed to the industry. We’re going to continue that commitment and deepen that commitment,” de Blasio said, just days after Public Advocate Letitia James criticized the slow pace of the administration's hiring for the position.

López said she wanted to build on the success of her predecessor under Bloomberg, while maintaining “production protocols that respect, embrace and build opportunities for all New Yorkers.”

When asked what changes in direction she felt were necessary from the previous administration, López declined to comment, saying she needed to “look, evaluate [and] research, and really formulate plans based on pure, empirical information.”

The past criticisms of the agency included the friction created by filming crews taking over street parking and sidewalk space in neighborhoods.

De Blasio said crews filmed on his block in Park Slope recently, and while he acknowledged that the process could be an “inconvenience” for residents, the value the industry brings to the city eclipses short-term annoyances.

“There’s a better job we could be doing explaining why this industry is for this city, and what it means for the future,” de Blasio said.

López also addressed one of the most pressing entertainment issues facing the city: whether the "Late Show" would remain in the city with its new host, comedian Stephen Colbert.

López said the city would “do everything in our power” to keep the show in Manhattan.

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