Remember all that justifiable hand-wringing when ABC moved production of Ugly Betty from California to NY because of the financial incentives? Well, not only is California in a fiscal funk but so is NY. Crains reports today that New York State’s tax credit for filming in the Big Apple has become “a victim of its own success; the state is out of money and a lack of pilots is threatening jobs”. Sure that state tax credit brought television production in New York City to a record high last year. But that was then and this is now. “Already television production studios are holding back on plans to shoot pilots in New York this spring,” the report says. “If funding for the tax credit program is not renewed, feature film and television series production could also dry up once current projects are completed.”
NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker warned a Crains forum this week that “television companies that made 19 pilots for programs last year in New York City thus far have committed to making zero.” [But tipsters tell me that Warner Bros is doing a pilot Rubicon in NYC and the surrounding area with its cable division Horizon Scripted for the AMC Network. The show is set in NY and will be shot there if it goes to series.] Silvercup Studios in Long Island City complained “none of us has booked a single pilot this year. Everybody is sending their pilots elsewhere.” Specifically, NBC is sending two pilots to Chicago even though they have stories set in New York, and two others to shoot in Canada. Warner Bros is also shooting a pilot for a New York-set series in another location. According to the report, everyone thought the state tax credit money would last until pilot season was over in the spring. “Instead, the allocated credits ran out on Monday, according to an executive at one of the networks. Renewal of the program now has to wait until a new budget is passed in Albany. The budget’s deadline is April 1,” Crains says. Started in 2004, the NYS tax credit program contained $445 million in credits allocated through 2013. But last April, to compete with other states’ incentive programs, the NYS tax break was tripled to 30% of production expenditures, and the number of New York-based productions shot up. NYC offers its own 5% tax break. Well, this is one thing California doen’t have to worry about. Since it doesn’t offer any tax breaks.
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