When CBS announced last summer that Stephen Colbert would stay in New York when he takes over “Late Show,” it wasn’t much of a surprise in Los Angeles, even though Mayor Eric Garcetti had made overtures to lure the show West. In Gotham the production is eligible for $11 million in tax credits and a $5 million grant to offset renovations to the Ed Sullivan theater, where the show is based.

Both cities are eager to attract popular latenight franchises. While the number of people such shows hire is small compared with other productions — “Late Show” will employ about 200 — the jobs are more secure and permanent than, say, those of a film shooting on location for a finite period, or a primetime drama that could be canceled for weak ratings.

Another benefit: The city is featured on TV, night after night, spurring tourism. When Letterman moved to the Ed Sullivan in 1993, the locale became a sightseeing stop.

But New York’s effort to poach or retain talkers has raised eyebrows.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration included language in the state budget in 2013 providing for a 30% credit for shows with an audience of at least 200 people that relocate to the Empire State. It seemed tailored to attract NBC’s “Tonight Show,” which moved from Burbank to Manhattan earlier this year, even though new host Jimmy Fallon already wanted to base “Tonight” in Gotham. And while that relocation incentive doesn’t apply to “Late Show,” CBS will be eligible for a credit under the state’s Excelsior Jobs Program, which includes a provision for credits to “an industry with a significant potential for private sector economic growth.”

“It’s simply retention,” says E.J. McMahon, president of the Empire Center for Public Policy.

Sources say the state offered another generous package to lure “Late Late Show” when host James Corden takes over from Craig Ferguson in March. A spokesman for Empire State Development, however, said that the show simply would have qualified under the existing tax credit that has helped bring “The Tonight Show” and “America’s Got Talent” to the state.

Although L.A. couldn’t match the incentives, Garcetti did make overtures, and the network ultimately decided to stay put at L.A.’s Television City. The “Late, Late Show” could qualify for another credit via the California Competes program, aimed and luring business to the state or retaining them, according to a state official.

With cost savings from offsets reaching into the tens of millions, it’s likely the onus will be on public officials to come up with more offers to keep latenight talkers within their cities. The challenge is that production tax credits typically aren’t extended to talkshows. California recently tripled the size of its credit and expanded eligibility, but the program is geared to features and hourlong dramas.

“The overall objective needs to be to protect jobs and revenues in Los Angeles, and whatever category of production is going to do that is what we are going to need to be focusing on,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who chairs the ad hoc committee on movie and TV jobs.

Local crews are hoping that’s not just talk.

© 2014 Variety

Tags:

You may also like

The good, the bad and the ugly in Cuomo’s budget

“We are at the early stages of what shapes up as the biggest state and city fiscal crisis since the Great Depression,” said E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center. “Borrowing and short-term cuts aside, the budget doesn’t chart any clear path out of it.” Read More

Economic Experts Discuss Long-Term Impacts of Coronavirus

"My prediction for now is this is going to be the most severe and prolonged fiscal crisis New York state and its local governments have seen, really since the Great Depression when government did not operate at the scale it now operates," Empire Center Research Director E.J. McMahon said. Read More

Economic inequality continues rising in Capital Region, U.S.

Opponents of a higher minimum wage, like the Empire Center for Public Policy, have argued that a gradual minimum wage increase would increase employer overhead and cost the state up to 200,000 jobs — and at least 11,000 in the Capital Region alone. Read More

How big Wall Street bonuses are a boon for LI

E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center for Public Policy, a fiscally conservative think tank based in Albany, breaks it down: The state has a 4 percent sales tax, and Nassau and Suffolk each have a 4.25 percent sales tax. Read More

Million-dollar earners in New York fell as concerns grow over rich leaving to other states

Cuomo's claims are likely overstating the immediate impact of the deduction cap, said E.J. McMahon, founder of the Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank in Albany. It's simply too soon to know if people have fled the state because of the so-called SALT cap, McMahon said. Read More

Economic gap widens between upstate and downstate New York

It’s a tale of two states — upstate and downstate. Upstate New York’s economy has added just 6.3 percent more jobs since 2010, among the worst performances in the nation, according to a study released Tuesday. Read More

Richard Brodsky: Cuomo and Molinaro are both intent on ignoring the truth

The upstate economy continues to stagnate, with consequent financial and social problems. The downstate economy continues to boom, with different problems and its own warning signs. No surprise. This latest evidence of New York's economic reality comes from the Empire Center and its estimable grey eminence E.J. McMahon. It's a well-crafted analysis and consistent with dozens of other such reports. Read More

Cuomo has utterly failed the people of upstate New York

To those who don’t get north of the city’s suburbs, Cuomo’s talk of an “even” economic recovery across the state may sound fine. But a new report from the Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon highlights the ugly facts. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100
Fax: 518-434-3130
E-Mail: info@empirecenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.