Schwarzenegger Picks 9 Film Commissioners — Mostly Dems

The group includes past and present top execs from Fox, Warner Bros. TV — and a Teamster

Last Updated: January 2, 2011 @ 4:18 PM

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has put nine new film commissioners in place as he prepares to step down Monday, including a Fox film production executive, a former location manager-turned Teamster and a one-time executive vice president of NBC Entertainment.

The California Film Commission’s job is to keep film and television industry projects in the state by improving economic conditions and managing locations and state-sponsored incentives. Its board consists of 21 members appointed by the governor, Senate Pro Tem and Speaker of the Assembly.

Schwarzenegger’s last hand-picked batch is made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans. One of those GOP appointees, Aaron McLear, is Schwarzenneger's press secretary, who took over the post in 2007. 

From Schwarzenegger’s Friay press release, the nine members are:

Hilary Rice Armstrong, 45, of San Francisco, has been appointed to the California Film Commission. Since 2006, she has been president of Fire of Life Films and executive producer for California State of Mind—the Legacy of Pat Brown. Additionally, she has been development director for My California Now since 2007. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Armstrong is a Democrat.

Fred Baron, 56, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to the California Film Commission. He has been executive vice president of Feature Production for Twentieth Century Fox since 2002. Since 1990, he has overseen the production of feature films that include: Knight and Day, Date Night, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Live Free or Die Hard, Borat, Kingdom of Heaven, I Robot, The Day After Tomorrow, Last of the Mohicans, Grand Canyon, Edward Scissorhands, Hot Chicks, Broken Arrow, Romeo and Juliet, Alien Resurrection, Bulworth and Moulin Rouge. Baron worked as a producer of the cable TV series “Tales From The Crypt,” from 1988 to 1990 and a producer and executive at HBO Pictures from 1985 to 1988. He held various positions in feature film production ranging from production assistant to assistant director and associate producer from 1979 to 1985. Fred began his movie career in the mailroom at Universal Studios from 1978 to1979. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Baron is a Democrat.

Steve Dayan, 53, of Los Angeles, has been reappointed to the California Film Commission, where he has served as a member since 2008. Since 1999, he has worked as a business agent for the Teamsters Local 399 representing Drivers, Location Managers and Casting Directors. Dayan worked as a location manager for the film and television industry from 1983 to 1999 and he worked as a disc jockey at KORJ Radio from 1976 to 1977. He is a member of the California Coalition of Entertainment Jobs and serves as a delegate to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Dayan is a Democrat.

Lindy DeKoven, 57, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to the California Film Commission. She has served as president of DeKoven Entertainment since 2002. DeKoven was executive vice president of NBC Entertainment from 1993 to 2000 and vice president of Warner Brothers Television from 1991 to 1993. She is chair of the Commission on the Status of Women. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. DeKoven is a Democrat.

Christine Essel, 60, of Los Angeles, has been reappointed to the California Film Commission, where she has served as a member since 2008 and from 2004 to 2008. Since May 2010, she has been chief executive officer for the Community Redevelopment Agency for the city of Los Angeles. Previously, Essel worked for Paramount Pictures as senior vice president of government affairs from 2004 to 2010, senior vice president of planning and development of public affairs from 1996 to 2004, vice president of planning and development and public affairs from 1994 to 1996, vice president of planning and development from 1986 to 1994, director of planning and development from 1981 to 1986, manager of facilities accounting in 1979 and financial analyst in 1978. Essel is a member of the FilmLA, Incorporated board of directors. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Essel is a Democrat.

Janet Knutsen, 57, of Los Angeles, has been reappointed to the California Film Commission, where she has served as a member since 2008. Since December 2010, she has been a freelance producer and production manager. Previously, Knutsen was a production manager for Warner Horizon from June 2010 to December 2010, production manager for Nickelodeon in 2009 and production manager for Warner Bros. from 2008 to 2009. Prior to that, she worked as a producer for the television show "Boston Legal" from 2004 to 2008, a production manager and producer for the television show "The Practice" from 1997 to 2004 and a first assistant director on several feature films and syndicated television shows including "NYPD Blue" from 1987 to 1997. Knutsen worked as the director of several episodes of the syndicated television show "Sisters" from 1994 to 1995 and worked on contract as a second assistant director on feature films, including "Rocky IV" from 1980 to 1987. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Knutsen is a Democrat.

Aaron McLear, 33, of Sacramento, has been appointed to the California Film Commission. Since 2007, he has been press secretary for the Office of Governor Schwarzenegger. Previously, he served as a regional press secretary for the Republican National Committee from 2005 to 2007. McLear was communications director for the 2004 Bush-Cheney Campaign in Ohio. Prior to that, he served Ohio Governor Bob Taft as a legislative liaison, assistant press secretary and communications assistant. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. McLear is a Republican.

Michael Miller, 42, of Los Angeles, has been reappointed to the California Film Commission, where he has served as a member since 2006. Since 1990, Miller has worked for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) where he has been division director of the Motion Picture and Television Production Department since 2008 and served as eighth international vice president of the IATSE General Executive Board. Additionally, he has served as international vice president in charge of the West Coast offices from 2006. Previously, he also was an international representative from 2001 to 2006. Miller joined the IATSE Stagehand Local 27 as a member in 1990. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Miller is a Democrat.

Gary Tobey, 62, of Montecito, has been reappointed to the California Film Commission. He has served as chairman and chief executive officer for Haworth Marketing and Media since 1995. Tobey was president of the media agency for Focus Media from 1987 to 1994. Prior to that, he served as senior vice president for the Federated Group from 1985 to 1987. Tobey is a member of the Musical Instrument Museum Board of Directors and the St. Jude Children’s Hospital Executive Marketing Committee. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Tobey is a Republican.