EXCLUSIVE: Law & Order: SVU has become the first victim of New Jersey’s pending suspension of its film and TV production tax credit. The veteran NBC crime drama has been the highest profile TV series based in New Jersey. Its sets have been housed at NBC’s Central Archives building in North Bergen. But faced with losing the state’s 20% tax incentive, the show is headed to New York, which recently proposed boosting its incentive to $420 million annually.
In New York, Law & Order: SVU might move into the studio space at Chelsea Piers that has been occupied by the mothership Law & Order series. I hear Universal Media Studios, which co-produces the Law & Order franchise with Wolf Films, is looking into the viability of moving Law & Order: SVU into Law & Order’s old digs, which will be vacant soon, following the veteran series’ cancellation by NBC last month. Such a move would carry on a long tradition: Chelsea Piers has been so closely associated with the franchise, housing the mothership series as well as Law & Order: Criminal Intent, that a road leading to Pier 62 was renamed Law & Order Way in 2004.
L&O:SVU’s exit from New Jersey will probably have an impact on the local economy. L&O:SVU co-star Tamara Tunie and NBC Uni’s tax counsel Brian O’Leary were among those who testified in favor of keeping the New Jersey tax credit at a hearing earlier this month. According to estimates, nearly 7,000 New Jersey production workers earned more than $500 million in wages in 2008, the latest year available. More than 3,000 small businesses who supplied film and TV productions made a total of $508 million.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s budget reform package, which includes the scrapping of the tax credit, was approved by a state panel yesterday and is expected to pass a vote by both houses on Monday.