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Schwarzenegger Tries to Halt ‘Ugly Betty’ Move to N.Y.
May 12, 2008

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Arnold Schwarzenegger recently told reporters that California must increase tax incentives for movie and television studios in order to keep productions within the state.

Schwarzenegger's comments stem from recent news that ABC’s hit television show “Ugly Betty” will move production from Los Angeles to New York, which prompted Schwarzenegger to spring into action on the tax policy issue.

The “Ugly” move has pushed more than 100 of the TV show’s staff into the unemployment line, caused lost state and municipal taxes, and set a precedent for other shows.

Schwarzenegger is supposed to be an expert in the entertainment biz, but he can’t seem to restrain his left-of-center legislature’s penchant for tax hikes.

The reason for the “Ugly Betty” exodus is New York’s recent increase in the film tax credit.

A couple of weeks ago, New York's governor signed a bill that tripled the credit for film and TV production to 35%. Shows like “Ugly Betty” cost millions per episode and execs are always looking for ways to cut expenses.

If the California legislature doesn’t treat entertainment companies like they’re businesses, the Big Apple is going to take a big bite out of Hollywood.

Seacrest to Replace Larry King?

In other entertainment business news, Larry King is getting close to laying down his CNN microphone and retiring from his long-running show.

Sources indicate that King’s first choice for his replacement is “American Idol” host, Ryan Seacrest.

Rumors have been circulating that Seacrest is in talks to become “Larry King Live”’s successor.

It’s not like he needs the work. As it is, Seacrest’s schedule is hectic to the max. In addition to doing his “Idol” gig, he hosts a show for E! News and is a DJ on Los Angeles’ KIIS-FM radio.

CNN execs are salivating over the idea that Seacrest would draw the young "Idol" demographic and improve the ratings against cable leader Bill O’Reilly.

If it works out, expect CNN to offer Simon Cowell an “American Morning” spot and Fox to offer Paula Abdul a red-eye slot.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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