Originally created 06/11/04

Entertainment panel touts Georgia talent



SAVANNAH, Ga. - Hollywood may have the tinsel, but Georgia has the hospitality.

That's what a panel of five entertainment representatives said Wednesday afternoon at a news conference held in conjunction with the G-8 Summit at Sea Island.

Several thousand journalists are on Savannah's Hutchinson Island to cover the political summit from an elaborate media center. Key players in Georgia's entertainment industry used the opportunity to hold a media event for the international crowd and pat the state on the back.

The panel included Grammy--winning country artist Travis Tritt, who talked about such Georgia talents as Chet Atkins, Ray Charles and Otis Redding.

Also present was Stratton Leopold, an executive movie producer from Savannah whose more than 60 feature films include Paycheck, The Sum of All Fears and The General's Daughter.

Mr. Leopold spends much of his time commuting to the West Coast, yet he said he makes every effort to produce films in Georgia. But the state's entertainment industry is facing significant competition from other states with better tax incentives.

Dallas Austin, a Grammy-winning music producer who lives in Atlanta, is working with the governor and other politicians to create attractive state tax incentives.

With the right incentives, he said, Georgia could be "an entertainment mecca."