Celebs back runaway tax break
NEW YORK — Showbiz heavyweights mobbed New York City Hall in lower Manhattan Wednesday to cheer a proposed 5% tax credit for Gotham film and TV production.
“Without the passage of this bill, you’re looking at a living dinosaur. Apres moi — nothing,” Dick Wolf told the city council’s finance committee. Wolf, who produces three of his “Law & Order” skeins in Gotham, called it “the most expensive city on the planet” to film in.
Llewellyn Wells, exec producer of Fox’s upcoming “Johnny Zero,” said the tax credit would go a long way, both “psychologically and fiscally” to convince financial backers New York is a viable location. The state credit, in fact, was instrumental in enticing the net to film “Johnny Zero” in Gotham.
The 5% benefit is for below-the-line expenses for productions shot 75% in Gotham. It would be twinned with another 10% state tax credit passed in Albany in August.
Council member David Weprin, who chaired the meet, framed the credit as a way to add well-paying blue collar jobs for city residents — not as a tax break for fat-cat Hollywood congloms.
He also said the measure is crucial in curtailing runaway production to Toronto, which “is serving as New York’s double,” siphoning off jobs, revenue and cultural capital.
Location, location, location
Tribeca Prod.’s Jane Rosenthal, New Line’s Richard Socarides and Jerry DiCanio, head of physical production at NBC Universal, cited examples of productions set in New York but filmed in Toronto entirely for budget considerations.
“It’s really wack to be in Toronto shooting a New York movie. It’s not cool at all,” actor Ice-T weighed in.
Weprin and most of the dozen or so council members on hand (except Staten Island rep Michael McMahon) were upbeat on the bill and, at times, a bit giddy at the big names parading though chambers.
Council member Lewis Fidler referred to Ice-T as “detective” — for his role on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”
Council member Simcha Felder joked, “If there are any roles for nice Jewish men with yarmulkes and a beard, think of me.”
Bill’s sponsors are pushing for a council vote before Dec. 15, but no date has been set.