Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Hollywood Bailout

I know the feeling: Massachusetts Gives More Money to Hollywood

"States’ Film Production Incentives Cause Jitters" by MICHAEL CIEPLY

LOS ANGELES — Already on the hook for billions to bail out Wall Street, taxpayers are also finding themselves stuck with a growing tab for state programs intended to increase local film production.

One of the most shocking bills has come due in Louisiana, where residents are financing a hefty share of Brad Pitt’s next movie — $27,117,737, to be exact, which the producers will receive by cashing or selling off valuable tax credits.

As the number of movies made under these plans multiplied in recent years, the state money turned into a welcome rescue plan for Hollywood at a time when private investors were fleeing the movies. But the glamour business has not always been kind to those who pick up the costs, and states are moving to rein in their largess that has allowed producers to be reimbursed for all manner of expenditures, whether the salaries of stars, the rental of studio space or meals for the crew.

Are you NOT GLAD that you get to FUND HOLLYWOOD and PICK up the TAB, American taxpayers!!! That's the kind of SERVICES we need the income tax for!!!!

Michigan, its own budget sagging, is in the middle of a hot political fight over a generous 40 percent rebate on expenditures to filmmakers that was carried out, with little opposition, only last April. Producers of films for studios like Warner Brothers and the Weinstein Company rushed to cash in, just as homegrown businesses were squeezed by a new business tax and surcharge.

But the politicians are REPRESENTING YOU, Amurkn shit-eater!

In Rhode Island, meanwhile, the rules have toughened considerably. That happened after The Providence Journal reported in March that producers of a straight-to-DVD picture called “Hard Luck,” which starred Wesley Snipes and Cybill Shepherd, had picked up $2.65 million in state tax credits on a budget of $11 million, even though it had reported paying only $1.9 million of the total to Rhode Islanders.

Virtually all of the programs use a state tax system to reimburse producers for money spent on movies or TV shows shot in the state. The state gives up revenue that otherwise would be collected to put money in the producer’s pockets.

“There’s no evidence yet that this is a particularly efficient or effective way to create jobs,” said Noah Berger, executive director of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

The nonprofit center reviews budget and tax policies in Massachusetts, which is spending about $60 million a year on producer credits. A recent study by Mr. Berger’s center pointed out that the state’s film credit, at 25 percent, is five times higher than that offered to those who build in designated economic opportunity areas, and more than eight times the state’s standard investment tax credit.

This is why we can't eliminate the income tax, right here!!!

Until two years ago, Louisiana’s program offered a 15 percent credit for virtually the entire budget of a qualified film (and more for Louisiana resident wages), including money that may have been spent out of state. Things were fast and loose enough in Louisiana that Mark Smith, who oversaw the program, pleaded guilty last year to taking $67,500 in bribes to inflate budgets for a film production company that was not named by the authorities.

Oh, there are PAYOFFS and CORRUPTION, too, huh? Pffffffftttt!