Portlandia brings cash to the city it satirizes

Portlandia brings cash to the city it satirizes

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Carrie Brownstein, Mayor Sam Adams, Fred Armisen and Kyle MacLachlan at City Hall. // PHOTO COURTESY OF RAINBOW MEDIA

The IFC TV show Portlandia will do more than parody and exalt the city’s quirky nature: Its production has created jobs and further raised Portland’s status as a film-friendly city.

The filming, which ran from late August until Sept. 19, employed 220 Oregonians for 17,250 hours and contracted for services from 75 local vendors. The show debuts in 2011.

“Having a show about Portland will be just as, or perhaps more, important than the money they spend here,” says Vince Porter, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Film and Television. Portlandia was co-created by Portland musician Carrie Brownstein and Saturday Night Live actor Fred Armisen. From humorless feminists to edgy punk rockers, it pokes fun at Portland stereotypes.

“The word [about Portland] gets spread by these gypsy-itinerant workers,” says David Cress, one of the show’s producers, and then they return to major entertainment cities such as L.A. and spread the word about Stumptown. Portland has attracted a number of productions in recent years including the TNT show Leverage, which put $20 million into the local economy and employed 397 Oregonians in 2009.

IFC chose to shoot on location because, unlike L.A. or Vancouver, B.C, “People are really welcoming and prices are really reasonable,” Cress says. “[Mayor Sam Adams] has been really good at seeing this as an economic driver.” Adams plays a cameo role as the fictional mayor’s assistant. “Sam is a surprisingly good actor,” Cress says.

PETER BELAND