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Snapshot Michael L. Klausman Position: President, CBS Studio Center Born: Feb. 2, 1951, South Gate Education: Bachelor’s degree in biology, CSUN Most Admired Person: Jack Hayford, Pastor, Church on the Way, Van Nuys Personal: Married 28 years; five children By SHELLY GARCIA Staff Reporter Late last year, the Studio City Chamber of Commerce tapped Michael L. Klausman to become its next president. The choice was not surprising. During the nine years he has headed CBS Studio Center, Klausman has built one of the most successful production lots in Los Angeles, home to such shows as “Seinfeld,” “Roseanne” and “Unhappily Ever After.” He has overseen an expansion that brought the number of sound stages to 18, while adding an office complex and a 1,250-car parking structure to what was already the largest and most prominent business in Studio City. But the studio’s standing in the Studio City community comes from more than its size. A key player in community affairs, CBS Studio Center has donated funds to area schools and made its parking facility available for the Studio City Farmers Market. Thanks largely to Klausman’s efforts, the studio has built a bridge between business and residents, creating a partnership that is unusual among such traditionally antagonistic factions. When he officially assumes his new position in August, Klausman’s first order of business will be to build a similar bond within the diverse business community. At the same time, he may face a new challenge for studio business from the proposed North Hollywood Studio Complex, which is expected to add 10 sound stages to the L.A. market. Question: You’ve developed a reputation for listening to your neighbors, balancing their needs against your studio’s needs. How have you accomplished that? Answer: I just pretend that I live in the area. Development with no regard for the residents is harmful. Residents with no regard for business is also harmful. Everyone worries about pollution, the environment and traffic and everything you should be worried about. Where the friction comes is when people believe that developers only make things worse. If you can develop and address these issues, and the chamber can help to do that, all of a sudden you’ve established a real credibility. Q: You make it sound easy. A: It’s a simple concept, but it takes a lot of effort. We work together with the residents on a number of things. The noise from Burbank Airport is a problem for me as it is for the residents in the area. We’ve worked together on the Farmers Market. When we can, we work together on common goals. Then when things come up where our goals are different, they know we’ll work with them on that, too. Q: What are some of the challenges the Studio City Chamber of Commerce faces in trying to meet the needs of area business? A: There are about 1,300 businesses in Studio City and about 250 are members of the chamber. I’ve been talking to a number of members, and a lot of them are on very small margins. You ask them to join a chamber, and you ask for special dues outside of the membership fees, and often people ask, “What do I get?” My big job now is to unify the folks to feel like they’re part of the group, but they have to put some effort in. It’s like joining a gym. You’re not going to lose weight just by joining. You have to put some effort in. Q: What are some of the things you hope to do to bolster membership in the chamber? A: In order to set goals, I’m trying to find out what the needs are. I’m also trying to find out what the perceptions are. There may be misconceived perceptions of what the chamber should do. Once I find out, I’m trying to get those two to mix. Rather than a shotgun approach, and doing a lot of little things, I’m hoping we’ll do some big things well. Most people want a chamber to represent them politically, to promote their business and to provide educational tools. We should develop a real club that’s proud of the business found here. Q: Do you have any specific things on the agenda so far? A: I’m looking at the Christmas Open House and the Fourth of July event and some of the mixers as my emphasis. We’ve talked about expanding the Fourth of July event to more of a taste of Studio City and bringing in the restaurants. We’re also looking at a joint membership program. For a higher fee you can get to be a member of four chambers. It sounds like a great membership tool. Q: Studio City has a particularly active residents association. The group has even begun a business alliance that has attracted a number of members from the business community. How is that likely to impact your plans for the chamber? A: I’m not concerned. It’s not crazy to think that the residents and the chamber couldn’t be one unit. If it does a better job than we do, then it should be stronger. Things have a tendency to spring up because they’re needed. If they’re doing a good job, it’s a good job for Studio City. There could be synergy between the two groups. Q: There’s some impending competition on your own business front as well with the proposal to build sound stages in North Hollywood. How do you think that might affect CBS Studio Center? A: I’m concerned that there are too many stages in the area. If the demand stays the same and there is an increased amount of supply, it lowers prices and increases competition. On the other hand, we’re competitive now, and I’m not afraid to go up against anybody else. We’re proud of our service and our studio, so bring them on. Q: How has your studio fared with the reported slowdown in the entertainment industry? A: The months of January and February, we were kind of slow due to cancellations, and there wasn’t much out there. But the pilot season came in late. Right now we’re booked for 16 pilots and counting. And there are a lot of movie inquiries. Pilots typically start in April, and in May networks decide what they’ll pick up and that’s when you negotiate your deals for the fall. I expect it to be busy with inquiries through the end of May. Q: In college, you planned to go on to medical school. Do you ever regret your decision? A: When I was going to school, I met a guy named Tim Berry, who went on to become one of the producers of “Cheers.” I needed a job and he got me a job as a page on “All in the Family.” As a result of some of the affirmative action programs at the time, it was hard to get into med school. So I gave TV a shot. I have no regrets. If someone’s sick, I think I would have liked to make them feel better. But I also make people feel good now. I try to make producers feel good. I try to make my family feel good.

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