By Clint Confehr
MEMPHIS, TN — Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris’ several nominees to county posts, including a photo journalist, were recently approved by county commissioners.
Uday Sripathi is a new member of the Memphis & Shelby County Film & TV Commission. Originally from Mumbai, India, Sripathi’s worked on programs for FedEx, NBC, CNN, HLN, Discovery, BBC, ITV, MTV, and Channel News Asia.
He went to India with President Obama in 2010 as a news pool producer, and then in 2015 as an NBC producer. So, Sripathi knows problems filmmakers face in unfamiliar cities and what can be done to make their work efficient.
“Usually they must go through several departments,” Sripathi said. “New York City is very friendly, with one office turning requests around in 24 hours.”
If the city/county film and TV commission makes Memphis more user-friendly for film crews, the area could be more competitive, he said. Beyond permits, issues include tax incentives.
“A lot of filming is going to Georgia,” Sripathi said. “Many changes have to be done on the state level, but things can be done on the local level to help the state be more competitive.
“I won’t be filming for the commission,” he said. “This is purely an advisory role.”
Sripathi’s produced many news stories and went undercover with a New York Times journalist. He’s worked on “a lot of documentaries on human trafficking,” he said.
He hopes to get more of his own projects here. He became a Memphis resident six years ago. “My wife is from here and works at FedEx,” he said. “That’s how we met.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Harris’ next chief financial officer starts in January.
Chris McLean, currently chief administrative officer for Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, will lead the Division of Administration and Finance of Shelby County. He succeeds CFO Wanda Richards who delayed her retirement until January.
“As we invest in our children and workforce, the chief financial officer will be critically important to ensuring Shelby County Government is fiscally strong and able to make maximum impact on lives,” Harris said.
McLean’s 30 years experience is as a finance professional and administrator at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare where leaders support his move, “but he will definitely be missed,” said Dr. Michael Ugwueke, president and CEO at Methodist. McLean has supervised: financial reporting and planning; internal auditing; and negotiation of contracts and investments.
And Harris’ nominees to the city/county Air Pollution Control Board were approved. They are: Jim Holt, an air pollution projects engineer for FedEx with 20 years experience in air pollution monitoring; Randall Womack, an environmental law attorney for 25 years; and Robert Simpson, an environmental manager for Nucor Steel.