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City entertainment industry hooked on state tax break

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Back in 2004, New York debuted a $25 million tax credit for TV shows and movies produced on soundstages in the state. The program has since morphed into a $420 million incentive that’s the largest in the nation and one the industry says it can’t live without.

“The tax credit is the engine that moves the machine,” John Battista, Executive Vice President of York Studios in the Bronx said Tuesday at Crain’s Entertainment Summit.

The President of Kaufman Astoria Studios, Hal Rosenbluth, echoed that sentiment, pointing to industry estimates that up to 80% of film and TV productions would leave the city if the tax break were done away with—something the legislature threatens to do from time to time.

“This industry will only be as successful as political leaders will allow it to be,” Rosenbluth said.
Indeed, the tax credit is so popular that this year’s allocation was used up by April 2017, according to the Citizens Budget Commission, which calculated the program cost the state $4.5 billion since inception. The commission, along with the Empire Center for Public Policy, has long opposed the credit on the grounds that the costs aren’t commensurate with the rewards. Even actress Cynthia Nixon said she opposed the tax break during her campaign for governor.

But the booming movie biz clearly has economic upside. The Empire State Development Corp. reports that film and TV productions have spent some $22.7 billion and enlisted 1.4 million new hires since 2011. A report for the state by consulting firm Camoin Associates found that the tax credit itself helped generate 34,000 “direct” jobs across and about the same number of indirect ones in 2017 alone.

The credit offers producers refunds for up to 30% on all “below the line” costs, such as salaries for set-builders and sound engineers. Costs for hiring actors, screenwriters or directors aren’t eligible. A typical show or movie can save 18% on production expenditures under the program, which ensures a steady stream of work for the likes of Kaufman Astoria Studios, Silvercup Studios and Steiner Studios.

Understandably, these companies are keen on keeping the tax break going. But they’re not the only interested parties. Teamsters Local 817, which represents behind-the-camera workers including drivers, location workers and casting professionals, is also a big supporter. So is the de Blasio administration. Indeed, so many films and shows are being shot on the streets of New York at any given time that the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment limits how often the most popular neighborhoods can be used for film shoots, Commissioner Julie Menin said Tuesday.

Perhaps most importantly, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is a big champion of the film and TV tax credit, which he sees as an economic development tool for upstate. The tax break was most recently extended by the legislature in 2017 and is set to run until 2022.

Source: https://www.crainsnewyork.com/entertainment/city-entertainment-industry-hooked-state-tax-break

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Couple arrested in fatal 2016 attack on Long Island woman

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A former New York City correction officer and his 21-year-old girlfriend have been charged in the fatal beating of the woman’s mother on Long Island.

Nassau County police say 27-year-old Ralph Keppler and 21-year-old Francesca Kiel, both of Lynbrook, were arrested Sunday on murder charges.

Police say the victim, 56-year-old Theresa Kiel, was brutally attacked and struck in the face with a metal barbell at her apartment in Long Beach in December of 2016. She lost and eye and remained in a vegetative state until she died this Saturday.
Prosecutors had alleged the motive to be a business dispute.

Keppler had been charged back in January with attempted murder and assault and was out on bail. His lawyer says he’s innocent.

Information on Francesca Kiel’s lawyer wasn’t immediately available. Both Defendants were scheduled to be arraigned on Monday in First District Court in Hempstead.

Source: http://www.fox5ny.com/news/couple-arrested-in-2016-attack

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Woman Beaten in Subway Station by Man Yelling Racially Charged Words: Family, Police

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A woman was punched and stabbed when she got off the subway in Brooklyn by a man yelling racially charged words, her family and police said.

The victim, 57-year-old Ann Marie Washington, was hospitalized Sunday after having surgery for a collapsed lung due to the stabbing, her family told NBC 4 New York.

Washington, a mother of two, was on her way home from work Friday evening and had just stepped off the subway at the Church Avenue stop in Brooklyn when she was attacked, advocates said.

The man, who was white, punched her in the mouth and stabbed her in the chest while calling her a “black b—-,” advocates said. Washington, who is black, is a native of Trinidad.
The attacker fled on a Q train, police said. The victim said he appeared to be in his early 30s, about 5-feet, 3-inches tall, and wearing grey and black sweatpants and a black hooded sweatshirt.

Police didn’t initially call the attack a hate crime, leading to outrage from neighborhood advocates who held a news conference Sunday.

“If this was a white resident, a new gentrifier to this neighborhood, there would be swarms of cops here,” said Imani Henry of Equality for Flatbush. “But when it is a black person who is attacked by a white racist, there isn’t anything.”
Afterward, the NYPD said its Hate Crimes Taskforce would look into it. Police said they didn’t have all the details at the time the crime was reported.

Washington didn’t realize she had been stabbed until she got home, advocates said. Even then, she thought she had been scratched in the chest until she woke up the next morning, said Kenzia Bernard Nau, a witness and a neighborhood advocate.

Advocates said witnesses shot video and there should be surveillance video of the suspect, but police haven’t released it.
“The fact that the video isn’t out right now, this is completely insane,” Bernard Nau said. “This is going to keep happening.”

Source: https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Woman-Beaten-in-Subway-Station-by-Man-Yelling-Racially-Charged-Words-Family-500238922.html

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It’s back: NYC’s rare Mandarin duck makes grand return to Central Park

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The Mandarin duck that has caused crowds of people from around the world to flock to Central Park has made its grand return after a brief disappearance.

The duck, native to Asia, was first spotted in the Central Park Pond at 60th Street and 5th Avenue on Oct. 10. Tourists and New Yorkers alike couldn’t resist the urge to see the bird for themselves and headed to the park in search of the rare bird.

After making appearances at multiple bodies of water in the area, some cried “fowl play” when the bird seemed to suddenly disappear earlier this week.

The NYC Parks Department released the following statement:

“While we are not tracking the Mandarin duck, we’ve noted that he’s appeared healthy and has regularly moved between water bodies in Central Park. We don’t know his exact location at this time. Almost all ducks migrate seasonally. While we’re happy to have had him visit our parks, it’s important to remember that at some point he may leave New York for warmer temperatures.”

As long as the duck doesn’t appear injured or in need of care, rangers will not make an attempt to capture it.

“While it’s exciting to spot such a rare bird in NYC’s backyard, like every other celebrity sighting, New Yorkers should know to give him space and not to disturb him,” Deputy Director of the Urban Park Rangers John McCoy said.

It remains a mystery how exactly the duck ended up in Central Park. There has been some speculation he may have formerly been a pet, but he has since effortlessly been adopted into the park’s urban flock.

By Thursday afternoon, social media was abuzz with the bird’s return to its home base in the park.

Source: https://abc7ny.com/pets-animals/its-back-mandarin-duck-makes-grand-return-to-central-park/4648131/

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