N.J. commission in limbo

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New Jersey's Motion Picture and Television Commission could shutter as early as June 30 if funding is not restored to the proposed state budget.

Currently, Gov. John Corzine's proposed 2008-09 budget for New Jersey does not include provision for the Motion Picture and Television Commission, though the Garden State's tax credit system remains unaffected.

"There is a serious budget problem in the state, and the governor and legislators are trying to address that situation," associate director Steve Gorelick said. "We can't minimize it, but we think we have a very good story to tell."

Filmmakers spend "upward of $100 million" in the state every year, and "that can only work to solve our budget problems, not create more," he said.

"It always surprises me when commissions are fighting for their budgets," said David Declerque, line producer for NBC's "Law & Order: SVU," which has housed stages in North Bergen, N.J., for nine years. "They attract money into the state and bring in more than (the state) spends on having a commission. They were quite crucial for us when we came to New Jersey, and they continue to be very helpful with steering us in the right direction."

In addition to assisting in oversight of the tax credit, the commission helps productions with child labor permits and getting licenses for such things as theatrical firearms and special effects.

"We're optimistic that the situation will be resolved," Gorelick said. "I can't imagine New Jersey enjoying a thriving film industry here without a film commission."
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