New York Luring Jimmy Fallon 'Tonight Show' With Special Tax Breaks: Report

6:48 AM PST 03/22/2013 by Jordan Zakarin
NBC

The state, which pours hundreds of millions into TV and film tax credits, is reportedly targeting the famed NBC franchise by fine-tuning big money incentives.

Television politics is now spilling over into the government arena.

As NBC debates internally about when it will hand over its Tonight Show franchise to Jimmy Fallon, the question of just where a Fallon-hosted version of the show would tape is also being discussed. The state of New York is working to make it worth the network's while to return the franchise to its original Manhattan home.

The Daily News reports that the state, which is in the process of finalizing its proposed budget, is customizing a tax credit that would seemingly directly target The Tonight Show. Financial incentives would be offered to the producers of "a talk or variety program that filmed at least five seasons outside the state prior to its first relocated season in New York," which is recorded in front of a studio audience of more than 200 people and has a production budget of at least $30 million.

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The kicker: The state already gives tax credits to shows and films being made in New York, but as of now, they have to have started up in the state -- think 30 Rock, Girls or The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which is slated to become the largest film ever produced in the city. The tweak in the new budget would make credits available to a show that was coming from out of state, and Tonight has been based in California since 1972.

While a rep for Gov. Andrew Cuomo denied this wrinkle in the state's budget is directed at winning back NBC's flagship late-night show, it fits with recent revelations.

As The Hollywood Reporter has relayed, Fallon, the Saturday Night Live alum whose show is executive produced by SNL honcho Lorne Michaels, is being built a new studio at the network's 30 Rock offices in Manhattan.

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New York has beefed up its film and television tax credits the past decade; in a program that runs through 2014, it slates $420 million in incentives per year for luring such projects. The deal includes a 30 percent fully refundable tax credit on qualified expenses spent in the state during production. Cuomo has called for that program to be extended, while there also have been efforts to lure postproduction to New York, most recently with an upped tax credit from 10 to 30 percent.

As of last year, New York City had seen $60 billion in production during a decade's time; there were, as of May, 130,000 people employed by the TV and film industries in the city. New York State also has sought to even the playing field with tax incentives, upping credits for productions outside the Big Apple.

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