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As productions restart, California tax credits lure HBO’s ‘In Treatment,’ TBS’ ‘Miracle Workers’

Geraldine Viswanathan, Daniel Radcliffe and Karan Soni in the TBS comedy "Miracle Workers"
Geraldine Viswanathan, Daniel Radcliffe and Karan Soni in the TBS comedy “Miracle Workers,” which is relocating production to Los Angeles.
(Curtis Baker)

Film and TV shoots have been slow to resume in the Los Angeles area. But California’s recently relaunched tax incentive program continues to lure productions from other states even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

HBO’s planned reboot of its critically acclaimed drama “In Treatment” and TBS’ comedy “Miracle Workers” are moving to California to take advantage of the film and television tax credit program, the California Film Commission said Monday. The shows will each receive about $5 million in tax credits for their first seasons filming in the Golden State, representing 25% of their qualified production spending.

The two shows are the first to be approved under the state incentive program’s latest incarnation, which launched July 1. The program, which is set to run through 2025, allocates $330 million in annual tax credits meant to curb the flight of Los Angeles’ signature industry to other states that have their own lucrative benefits, including Georgia, New York and Louisiana.

The latest application period for TV shows, which ran June 22-24, was open only to series relocating to California and productions already participating in the program. The commission said this was because of the high number of recurring shows receiving the tax breaks. There are 25 returning shows participating, including Netflix’s serial killer drama “You,” HBO’s “Westworld” and FX Networks’ “American Horror Story.”

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“In Treatment,” in which Gabriel Byrne played a 50-something psychotherapist, premiered in 2008 on HBO and ran for three seasons. The show is relocating from its earlier filming location of New York, according to the film commission. “Miracle Workers,” an anthology series that is going into its third season, is moving from the Czech Republic. The first season was a workplace comedy set in Heaven, while the second moved its setting to the Dark Ages.

Therapist Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne) counsels Oliver (Aaron Shaw) in "In Treatment."
Therapist Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne) counsels Oliver (Aaron Shaw), an 11-year-old caught between divorcing parents, in the original run of HBO’s soon-to-be rebooted “In Treatment.”
(Abbot Genser / HBO)

It remains unclear when major Hollywood productions will be able to fully resume in the so-called 30-mile zone surrounding the Los Angeles area. The business was effectively wiped out for months because of restrictions meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom gave the green light for music, film and TV productions to restart on June 12, clearing the way for local governments to make their own decisions. Labor unions and studios collaborated on detailed guidelines for how to return to work safely. But a recent surge in outbreaks has renewed concerns about onset health dangers.

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The restart has been “slow but steady,” starting with game shows, documentaries and indie movies and other smaller-scale projects said Colleen Bell, the commission’s executive director. Many larger shows and films are hoping to resume in late fall or by year’s end, she said, though some have been pushed back into 2021.

Bell said she is encouraged by the “robust” number of independent films and studio movies that applied for incentives in the latest round, which closed July 15 and is being reviewed by the commission. Local film offices, meanwhile, are seeing upticks in permit applications.

“Production is definitely picking up in the state,” Bell said. “There is definitely a collective will and desire to get productions up and running.”

Officials are hopeful that productions such as “In Treatment,” which employ relatively small numbers of cast and crew, will have an easier time getting back in business. The new season of “In Treatment” is expected to have a hired cast of eight and a crew of 125, according to the commission.

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Projects included in the tax credit program are required to begin shooting within a specified period after the tax credits are reserved. However, because of the pandemic, the participating films and TV series have requested extensions, citing force majeure.

“We’ve really tried to work with our productions to the best of our ability, because we know these are extraordinary circumstances,” Bell said.


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