January 27, 2013 at 05:59 AM EST
Hollywood on Hudson? Yeah, baby!
Law & Order 's 20-year reign as the quintessential New York City television show may be long over, but hourlong small-screen dramas are alive and well in the five boroughs—and finally catching up to Los Angeles. While Los Angeles saw its television drama shoots plummet by 20% in 2012, New York City saw a whopping 37% increase in this specific and lucrative slice of the entertainment market, according to new statistics provided by the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting. The shows film at studios like Filmat the Brooklyn Navy Yard, as well as on city streets. In the 2012-2013 television season, 21 hourlong dramas filmed in New York City. That's a significant change from 2001, when Law & Order wasn't only the most iconic NYC show on the air—it also happened to be one of the few Big Apple dramas shot in town. That year, Law & Order and its spin-offs Law & Order: SVU , and Law & Order: Criminal Intent , as well as cop show Third Watch and one-season flop The Education of Max Bickford were the only network shows that filmed here. The Sopranos , which ran for six seasons on HBO, also called New York City home. Another cop show, NYPD Blue , filmed police precinct exteriors here, but the action was taped on a Los Angeles soundstage. The television landscape has changed in recent years, in part because of a hefty 30% state tax credit that has been extended to 2014, but also because much of the physical landscape of the city has not. Landmarked neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights, the West Village and the Upper West Side remain the most popular neighborhoods for shooting and are especially appealing to the hourlong drama market, which relies more on scenery than a 30-minute comedy. With an average budget of about $60 million, a TV drama also spends more cash and creates more jobs than other shows, a city spokesman said. In the 2012-2013 season, new shows like The Carrie Diaries , the recently canceled 666 Park Avenue , The Following , Zero Hour and the Cold War drama The Americans joined staples like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit . A new series that will air exclusively on Netflix, Orange Is the New Black , also chose to film here. The musical about the Great White Way, Smash , is back for its second season. Even shows that take place elsewhere, like The Good Wife , set in Chicago, and Boardwalk Empire , set in New Jersey, are continuing to shoot here. While studio executives credit the state tax credit with the booming film business, Mayor Michael Bloomberg often touts the rise of Hollywood on the Hudson as part of his legacy. When he took office in 2002, the city had nine television shows shooting here, a city spokesman said. Today, the total number of TV shows is 26. "Without the film tax credits, we would not have these shows," said Stuart Match Suna, president of Silvercup Studios in Long Island City, Queens. The film and television industry currently contributes $7.1 billion in economic activity to the city and 130,000 jobs, according to a Boston Consulting Group study released last year. Last March, Steiner Studios opened five new soundstages in Brooklyn, and Silvercup Studios is currently jam-packed with four one-hour dramas shooting there. "It's a new golden age for television," said Douglas Steiner, chairman of Steiner Studios. "For years, the industry was supported by Law & Order and Woody Allen. Now the explosion of channels on cable means they have to compete and make a better-quality product." Mr. Steiner attributed New York City's rise in part to having a crew base that can support a show for many seasons and a town where stars want to work. "Stars can do Broadway, television, commercials and photo spreads here all at once," Mr. Steiner said. "It's cost-effective." There is a downside to the burgeoning entertainment industry: hassles for the locals. "It's a balancing act," said City Council member Stephen Levin, whose district includes Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo. "There are neighborhood impacts to on-site, on-location filming." Problems Mr. Levin hears about include generators blocking residence entrances, and trucks killing foot traffic for restaurants. He said he has had discussions with the city, requesting a "hot spot" designation for a neighborhood—an area where there's a mandated cooling period for filming there. "Brooklyn Heights has just seen an oversaturation [of filming]," Mr. Levin said. "It's one thing if you can't find a place to park one day out of a few weeks; if you're seeing 14 productions in two months, it's too much."
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