Report: Tonight Show Deal Done "Early On"

10:45 PM, Apr 3, 2013   |    comments
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Photo: AP

There is more outrage over what some are calling the "Jimmy Fallon tax credit" in the state budget.

The Tonight Show will get $5 million in tax breaks when it moves back to New York in 2014.

Wednesday, The New York Times reported that the deal to move the show back to its original location was made "early on."

This week, Jay Leno confirmed that Jimmy Fallon will take over hosting duties next spring when the show returns to its original home.

The New York Times reports, "What was quietly set early on, though, was the decision to move the show back to New York."

That makes some people wonder whether it was a done deal, and whether the show would have moved back without the $5 million tax credit. The incentive is part of the $420 million a year the state makes available to lure television and film projects to New York.

Last month, Buffalo lost out on an opportunity to have a film about the Bills shot here. Movie producers moved production to Cleveland saying Ohio offers better tax incentives.

New York State Assemblyman David DiPietro says this is nothing new.

"New York City runs the state, literally. Our leaders from both sides of the aisle and the governor are both from downstate, and we get nothing up here. I mean, we get crumbs. We get crumbs. We grovel for it, and it's all we get. We never get anything up here," says DiPietro.

Last month, several state lawmakers spoke out against giving tax breaks to the Tonight Show.

"Is this a done deal to be in the budget, or is this something you guys might try to pull out?" asked Channel 2's Aaron Saykin.

"We're definitely going to try to pull it out. I don't know how successful we're gonna be, but we'll definitely try to pull it out," said State Senator George Maziarz.

We attempted to reach Senator Maziarz Wednesday, but his spokesperson said he was unavailable.

So what happened to that plan to pull the Fallon credit during budget talks? It didn't get enough support.

The budget the Governor signed includes allowing a "relocated television production" to qualify for tax breaks if it is a talk or variety show that filmed at least five seasons in another state, has a studio audience of 200 or more people, and spends at least $30 million in annual production costs in-state. The Tonight Show fits that bill. That's why some are even calling it the "Jimmy Fallon tax credit."

"What are your thoughts on a budget passing that had that in it?" asked Kelly Dudzik.

"I love Jimmy Fallon, he's a good entertainer, but I don't feel we should be using taxpayer money to bring him back here. If they want to move back to New York, fantastic, and we'd love to have them. But, with this state in such a horrible financial position. I think it's horrible. Especially also when they cut $90 million out of the developmentally disabled," DiPietro.

Wednesday, another NBC show, "America's Got Talent," also announced that it is moving to New York City.

Channel 2 called the New York State Film Office, which is part of the Governor's Office, to try to find out how the Tonight Show deal unfolded. We did not get a call back.

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