Queens crowds cheer show's move to Gotham
Crowds gathered at Jackson Heights on Thursday to welcome the cast of “Ugly Betty” and hear Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber’s efforts to bring more diversity to the entertainment biz.The speech was part of a Mexican-themed block party in the Queens area welcoming back the ABC skein to its roots in Gotham, after filming in Los Angeles for two seasons. “Ugly Betty” thesps America Ferrera, teary-eyed and fresh off her second Emmy nod, and Tony Plana gave gracias to the Queens residents and offered some Spanish salutations to the predominantly Hispanic crowd. Lieber and his “Made in NY” Task Force have introduced new programs to promote diversifying employment within the film and tv industry. “Things have gotten diverse in front of the camera,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, “but not nearly as much behind the camera.” There will be a mentorship program headed by Independent Feature Project (IFP) that will help people of all backgrounds break into the biz. IFP will also place them in internships and offer workshops. Career panels, fairs and awards will also be available and are mostly geared toward CUNY and high school students. The mayor’s office recently introduced new tax incentives for production crews. Gotham-filmed productions will receive 35% refundable tax credit, which the Task Force hopes will attract more filming in the city.