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Gotham gives Lee ‘Inside’ job a break

Tax incentives lure helmer to New York

NEW YORK — Universal and helmer Spike Lee have decided to shoot Denzel Washington-Clive Owen starrer “The Inside Man” at Brooklyn’s Steiner Studios thanks to a new package of city and state tax incentives aimed at luring production to Gotham.

Pic starts lensing June 27 for a 42-day shoot, and sets are being constructed at Steiner, the $118 million soundstage facility located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Mel Brooks had earlier opted to house his U release “The Producers” at Steiner Studios for similar reasons.

New move is further proof that recently passed tax breaks — which offer incentives to features and TV series that do the majority of their filming on qualified New York soundstages — are helping attract attention for some major shoots.

“These tax breaks are something we’ve all worked very hard for,” U prexy of physical production James Brubaker told Daily Variety. “It has probably taken a lot of films from Canada in many ways. Getting 10% from the state and 5% from the city on a big movie is a lot.”

Brubaker added that Universal would work with any of Gotham’s qualified soundstages, which include Kaufman Astoria and Silvercup, and that the decision is a matter of scheduling and cooperation.

Currently shooting at Steiner is the Nicole Kidman vehicle “Fur,” which New Line and HBO Films’ newly established distrib arm Picturehouse picked up last month as one of its first projects.

Helmer Susan Stroman has already wrapped “Producers,” which stars Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane and Uma Thurman.

Producing Lee’s “Man” is Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer. U production prexy Donna Langley oversees the project along with the studio’s Kristin Lowe and Imagine execs Karen Kehela-Sherwood and Kim Roth. Daniel Rosenberg is exec producing.

Pic, penned by Russell Gewirtz, is a drama pitting a cop against a clever bank robber. Jodie Foster also stars.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday night in Gotham the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting was coincidentally launching the latest prong of its Made in NY program under which the tax breaks fall. The office introduced a Made in NY discount card, entitling members of the entertainment industry to price breaks on hotels, airlines, car rentals, parking and banking.

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