Taking a step to win back production that has fled Hollywood, California has lured four TV shows from other states, including "American Horror Story" and "Veep," the HBO political comedy starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
The four shows were among nearly a dozen TV projects selected to receive tax credits under the state's newly expanded incentives program, the California Film Commission said Tuesday.
The relocating shows, which are expected to film primarily in Southern California, provide a welcome reprieve to the Los Angeles region, which has seen a sharp falloff in the number of TV programs shooting locally.
Seeking to curb so-called runaway production, California lawmakers last year expanded the state's film and TV tax credit program, with which filmmakers can shave as much as 25% off qualified production expenses, such as salaries of crew members.
The measure triples annual funding for the program to $330 million and allows more projects to qualify, including new series for networks, premium cable outlets and Internet distribution, as well as pilots.
The expanded program also scraps the lottery system used to allocate tax credits at random. Instead, credits are awarded based on how many jobs a project creates, spending on vendors and other criteria.
The four formerly out-of-state TV shows will divvy up $27.6 million specifically set aside for productions relocating to California. An additional $55.2 million in credits was made available for new TV series, miniseries, movies of the week and pilots.
"Veep" filmed in Maryland and was tentatively approved for an estimated tax credit of $6.5 million, while "American Horror Story" filmed in Louisiana and was approved for an estimated $9 million credit, according to records from the California Film Commission.
As The Times reported last month, Ryan Murphy's hit horror anthology series is expected to begin shooting its fifth season, "Hotel," in early July, according to FilmL.A. Inc., the nonprofit group that handles film permits for the city and the county.
"American Horror Story" shot its first two seasons in L.A. but moved to Louisiana after it was unsuccessful in securing a film tax credit through California's controversial lottery system.
The other two TV shows relocating to California are VH1's "Hindsight," which formerly shot in Atlanta, a hotbed of production and a chief rival to California; and ABC's "Secrets and Lies," which had been shooting in North Carolina. That state recently ended its film tax credit program. The estimated tax credit for "Hindsight" was $3.9 million, while the credit for "Secrets and Lies" was $5.7 million.
The tax credit amounts are subject to change pending an audit and a review of final documentation supplied at the end of production.
Six new TV series that received credits include two new HBO series, "Utopia Season" and "Westworld," which were approved for the largest tax credit amounts at $19.6 million and $12 million, respectively; "Crazy Ex Girlfriend" from CBS, ABC's "Code Black" and "Rosewood," a medical drama from Fox. Estimated tax credits for those shows were in the $4.9-million-to-$6.4-million range, records show.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti seized on the announcement of the new shows as "proof" that the new program, for which he lobbied hard, is working.
"Four existing veteran TV series can now afford to relocate to California, which means that more Angelenos in the entertainment industry will return to their home state," he said in a statement.
Whether the new program succeeds in bringing back large feature films to California remains to be seen. Even with the new incentives, California still faces heavy competition from Georgia, Louisiana, Canada and Britain. The application period for features is scheduled for July 13-25.