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City entertainment industry hooked on state tax break



city entertainment

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.


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9-year-old genius to graduate university




Laurent Simons

(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.

Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.

Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.

He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.

His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.

“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.

Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.

While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.

But Lydia has her own theory.

“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.

The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.

“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.

“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”

Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.

“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”

Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”

His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.

“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.

“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”

While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.

“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”

Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.

However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.

In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.

Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.

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New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne




Lena Horne

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Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem




Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem

Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.

The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.

Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.

Father and son were both knocked through a gate.

The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.

One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.

McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.

McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.

Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.


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