New York lures TV with tax breaks

'Fringe,' 'Life on Mars' may follow 'Ugly Betty'

Hollywood’s major TV studios are suddenly in a New York state of mind.

With fresh tax breaks being handed out by the city and state, the congloms are taking a serious look at shooting several of this fall’s new TV shows in Gotham.

Among those considering a New York home base: Fox’s J.J. Abrams entry “Fringe” and ABC’s new U.K. drama import “Life on Mars.”

Los Angeles played a major part in the original “Life on Mars” pilot — much of downtown easily doubled as 1970s L.A., given how little sprucing up parts of the area (particularly the old theater district on Broadway) has seen since then.

But the tax breaks enacted last month by New York Gov. David Paterson have been too good to ignore.

Already, ABC’s Gotham-set “Ugly Betty” has announced plans to move to New York this fall. That didn’t go over well with the show’s current crew.

“The pilot took place in New York. It’s set in New York,” ABC Entertainment prexy Steve McPherson observed. “The studio made the decision that it made sense to bring it back. It’s funny that people are taking issue that it’s cheaper to do a show about New York in New York.”

Under the expansion, the percentage of qualified film production costs eligible for a tax credit tripled, from 10% to 30%. The program was also extended from its original 2011 expiration to 2013. New York City chips in an additional 5% tax break.

It didn’t take long for production shingles to start considering shooting in New York. “I think you’re going to see even more productions going to New York,” one studio exec said Tuesday.

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