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Queens Chronicle

New York becomes Hollywood East

Renewed state tax credit program attracts productions to the city

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Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 1:37 pm, Thu Sep 29, 2011.

From a “show about nothing” to six friends hanging out in the Central Perk coffee house to Ben Stiller’s discovery that the exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History come to life at night, New York City has been the prominent setting for countless television series and movies.

It may even be the location of next year’s Primetime Emmy Awards if Mayor Bloomberg gets his way.

“Given how many TV shows are now filmed in New York City and how well they did tonight, maybe the academy should think about hosting next year’s Emmys in the Big Apple,” Bloomberg said in a statement. .

New York-based productions received top honors at the 63rd annual Emmy ceremony including the HBO mini-series “Mildred Pierce,” which snagged five awards, and the drama “Boardwalk Empire,” earning Martin Scorsese his first Emmy for directing.

A record 23 prime time television shows are being filmed here and 200 movies were produced last year.

“All of that activity supports 100,000 jobs and 4,000 local businesses, generating business not only for our entertainment industry but also for our lumberyards, food suppliers, hardware stores, transportation companies, hotels and so many other small businesses,” Bloomberg said.

To attract television and film production in the city, the state renewed its tax credit program last August, which provides a 30 percent credit for productions that complete at least 75 percent of their filming here. The new legislation extends the program through 2014, amounting to $420 million a year in tax incentives.

Another incentive was also added to encourage out-of-state projects to come to New York by offering a 10 percent credit for those who do 75 percent of post-production here.

“The tax credit program narrowed the cost gap between shooting in New York and other locations,” said Hal Rosenbluth, president of Kaufman Astoria Studios in Astoria, considered one of the largest and most sophisticated film and TV centers on the East Coast.

Before the first tax credit was initiated in 2004, producers had to pay high premiums to film in the state. If they filmed here, they would only stay for one to two weeks to get the “hero shot,” capturing a landmark on film and then moving to a less expensive location to finish production.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), who wrote the original tax credit legislation while serving in the Assembly, said Tuesday that the program worked “beyond our expectations. It’s the single most successful economic development program in recent history and has created thousands of jobs for New Yorkers during a difficult economic time.”

Rosenbluth thinks the tax credits should be permanent as it generates income for the city and indirectly produces jobs by attracting productions to the location. “The state gets to use some of the producers’ money before giving it back to them,” he said.

According to a 2009 Ernst & Young report on the estimated impacts of the state film credit, the return on investment ratio for filming in New York City is 1.90, meaning the investment returns more than its cost.

“It’s a positive revenue scenario,” Rosenbluth said.

Kaufman Astoria Studios, which opened its doors in 1920, supports those who work there, including stagehands, vendors and lighting technicians. Its $22 million expansion project in 2008 provided a 40,000-square-foot stage and support space.

Commenting on Bloomberg’s suggestion to have the Emmys in New York City, Rosenbluth said: “It’s terrific. It brings the stars out, it shows off New York and it hires New Yorkers to do it.”

Welcome to the discussion.