James Costos served as the US Ambassador to Spain under Barack Obama and vice-president, Joe Biden, and has played a key role in Biden’s presidential election campaign.
During his tenure, James fell in love with Spain and with Mallorca in particular. He traditionally spends every August on the island and has always invited important close friends, such as the Obamas, as part of his ongoing drive to introduce as many influential people as possible to the delights of the island. Aside from politics, he has also been the driving force behind building a strong relationship between the Spanish and US audio-visual industry.
In April 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Spain’s Grupo Secuoya, owner of the Madrid studios used by Netflix for its first European Production Hub, named James, a former HBO Executive, as president of Secuoya Studios, its TV fiction-film content production arm.
In October 2020, he was also appointed to the board of directors of Grifols S.A., a Spanish global biotherapeutics company which began Phase 3 clinical trials in patients with COVID-19 with its therapeutic manufactured in Clayton, North Carolina. Grifols is manufacturing the experimental therapy from the plasma of healthy, recovered COVID-19 patients. It was first to deploy a large-scale collection of this plasma and the first to manufacture and deliver the clinical anti-SARS-CoV-2 hyperimmune globulin.
“Yes, it’s been extremely tough and we missed coming to Spain and Mallorca this year, but thanks to modern technology, social media and in particular Zoom, I’ve been extremely busy. I guess I’m the kind of unofficial representative for the Spanish Film Commission in the United States, and back in May we made a major breakthrough when we managed to convince the Spanish government to introduce fiscal incentives for US film productions wanting to shoot in Spain.
“The country as a whole, especially Mallorca, is the perfect filming location. It’s got the weather, the vast and varied countryside, a very professional audio-visual industry, great studios, delicious food, a rich and exciting culture and language and excellent hotels; everything the big studios and independent filmmakers want.
“So, there are green shoots for American and other international productions wishing to film in Spain. We just need to get through this pandemic and I am convinced that US productions will flock to Spain. I’m really excited about that. Last year I hosted a visit by the Spanish Film Commission to Hollywood, which included members of the Mallorca Film Commission and Palma Pictures.
“We introduced them to all the big studios and production companies. It was an extremely positive fact-finding trip and some very good contacts were made. So, looking forward, the future for the US Hispanic film industry is very bright - we just need to hold tight and wait until we beat or get a grip of the pandemic.
“Even before the pandemic, all of the big studios, such as Pinewood, were already booked up for years, as were the top actors and actresses. So Spain can fill that gap and ease the backlog once the barriers are brought down,” James told the Bulletin from his home in Los Angeles last week.
It was at his LA home that the first fundraising event was held for Joe Biden once he threw his hat into the race for the White House. It was also where King Felipe and Queen Letizia were received on their first official visit to the United States.
James, who was once crowned “visitor of the year” to Mallorca, also hosted the last fundraising event for Biden in New York before the pandemic restrictions were introduced.
“I’m quietly confident that Joe will do it. I know he’s known as ‘slow Joe’ but there’s nothing wrong with that because he likes to take his time in getting things right.
“We have a heavy policy package to take to the White House and more than ever, we, America, need someone who will heal the wounds which Trump has reopened. As Obama said just the other day, we can repair the damage done by Trump over the past four years. But righting the wrongs of eight years of Trump will be a virtually impossible task. Trump has been so inward thinking. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve spent the past few years making an extra effort to maintain strong ties between the US and Spain. He has no empathy, never mind for his fellow Americans but the rest of the world.
"Looking back at Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the problem was that she was erratic, her poll ratings constantly rose and fell, she lacked consistency. Joe, on the other hand, has managed to maintain a steady ship right from the start of his campaign and that’s a very encouraging sign.
“Voters and supporters who came on board from the off have stuck with him and he has built on that, hence why his ratings, especially in the key swing states, are currently higher than Trump's. He’s managed to connect with Americans across the entire social and cultural spectrum: from those who were already struggling before Trump came to power, to postgraduates and even pre-graduates, not to mention the older generation. And over the course of this week, we’ve seen Wall Street, big business, leaning towards Biden and preparing themselves for a Democratic president.
“Joe wants to get rid of this red/blue division in the States. When I go out, the trees are not red and blue, the people aren’t red and blue. We are a large multicultural nation and Joe intends to throw his arms open and welcome all Americans back into the fold.
“Unlike Trump, Joe has empathy. He’s not conflictive, he cares about America’s standing in the world and about all the people he will represent in the White House, whether they voted for him or not. It’s not going to happen during the first 100 days, so much damage to the nation’s social fabric has been done by Trump; Joe and his team are going to need time.
“Trump has not only divided the nation, he has also opened up so many old wounds which all Americans, not only Democrats, want to heal again. The whole world has looked on in horror as Trump has allowed some Americans to show their true colours. Just take the rise in racism, discrimination, poverty and unemployment, not to mention how he has mishandled the Covid pandemic.
“Apart from being totally unaccountable for his actions, his words have spoken even louder and they have had, and will continue to have, grave consequences even when there is a presidential change. Words matter and as a result of Trump’s aggressive and irresponsible rhetoric, he has forced many people into taking sides. And to shore up his regime he has installed 300 new judges across the nation to override any decisions taken by state governors which he does not approve of.
“Trump has created a disenfranchised society which he is incapable of either recognising or taking responsibility for. That’s why we need slow Joe and I’ll be out on the campaign trail in Arizona next week.”