Big Apple is becoming the new Hollywood for A-list TV production: Report
It's more than just "The Tonight Show" and its rumored return east.
The Big Apple has become one of the most sought-after locations for the small screen, and the city benefits from its Hollywood pull.
Right now there are 25 primetime episodic shows being filmed in the five boroughs, along with dozens of cable, variety and talk shows, and that number keeps growing, according to the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment.
Even more shows are on the way, thanks in part to the incentive of new tax breaks from the state, and the city's studios are gearing up for the tidal wave of productions.
"As long as it continues to be a great place to live, work and capture on film, New York and its image will always be something that producers want to be and take advantage of," said Hal Rosenbluth, president of Kaufman Studios in Long Island City, where "Nurse Jackie" and "Sesame Street" are shot.
Between 2002 and 2011, TV productions in the city grew by 82%, according to a 2012 study by the Boston Consulting Group.
Although government incentives, such as the governor's Empire State Film Production tax credit, help bring television and film crews to the Big Apple, the city's charm wins them over, according to New York industry pros.
Some of the most successful shows shot in the city have made the most of NYC's famous backdrops and locations.
"'Sex and the City' and 'Gossip Girl' were love letters to New York City, much like HBO's 'Girls' is to Brooklyn," said Alan Suna, CEO of Silvercup Studios, where those shows have been produced.
In addition to having iconic locations like Central Park or the Brooklyn Bridge, the city has another advantage in its hundreds of established filmmakers, Suna said.
In the past, New York was primarily a draw for film projects, not episodic television. But with the industry-wide influx of top talent into TV, more and more shows have tapped into a base of writers, directors and actors who are open to the Big Apple, Suna said.
And the stars of the shows aren't the only ones who make big bucks, since thousands of other employees, such as carpenters, caterers and scene decorators, get a piece of the annual $7 billion revenue that's generated for the ciy, the Boston Consulting Group report said.
In 2011, more than 130,000 New Yorkers worked on a film or TV production. TV production jobs have seen a 76% growth since 2002, according to the BCG study.
"All the TV shows here means jobs for New Yorkers," said Marybeth Ihle, a spokeswoman for the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment.
Of course, hit status is never guaranteed. For every "Boardwalk Empire," which shoots in the city and has received critical praise and Emmy Awards, there's a "Zero Hour," a New York-filmed drama that lasted just three episodes.
One big reason companies are taking more risks in New York is the state's 30% tax break.
The tax credit refunds crews for a portion of their costs for expenses including props, makeup and set construction.
"This industry really wants to be here and they're willing to be a premium, but they're not stupid about it," Rosenbluth said.
An extension of this credit for shows that relocate to New York is expected to be included in the next state budget.
This extension is said to encourage "The Tonight Show" to come back to New York, with Jimmy Fallon rumored to be replacing Jay Leno behind the desk, because there reportedly is a provision that would give large talk shows the tax break.
Although NBC and the state have been mum about "The Tonight Show's" future, city industry experts are already buzzing and excited about the possibility.
"With Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman in New York City, that sends a huge message that New York is here. New York is alive. We're doing well. Come do business here," Suna said.
NBC reportedly is working on creating a new "Tonight Show" set at 30 Rock. If the reports are true, the flagship late-night show would be a major part of the all-around positive entertainment growth.
The city's other production facilities are unveiling new plans to meet the increased demand.
Kaufman Studios plans to create an outdoor studio lot by the summer. Other production offices, such as Steiner Studios in Brooklyn, said they hope to follow suit
"The industry wants to be here ... it's manufacturing for the 21st century," said Doug Steiner, chairman of Steiner Studios.