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De Blasio backs incentives for movie, TV production

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and first

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and first lady Chirlane McCray walk with Steiner Studios Chairman Douglas Steiner as they are given a brief tour of one stage at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn Friday, April 18, 2014. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Mayor Bill de Blasio, a frequent critic of government-sponsored subsidies for businesses, said Friday he supports the state's tax breaks to lure movie and television producers to New York City and keep them there.

Introducing documentary producer Cynthia López as his new commissioner of the Office of Media & Entertainment, de Blasio said he believes that the city has reaped jobs and tax revenue from entertainment subsidies.

"In other areas, we see an unfortunate history of the subsidies not yielding the result," de Blasio said, after a tour of Steiner Studios in Brooklyn. "This is the polar opposite."

During his mayoral campaign last year, de Blasio railed against Bloomberg-era tax breaks, such as those for real estate development, that de Blasio says tend not to produce the promised benefits for the city.

Friday, though, de Blasio had little but praise for his predecessor's handling of the film office.

The state offers a host of tax breaks for movies and television producers, including a 30 percent refundable tax credit on expenses and an exemption on sales tax.

New York State gives about $420 million a year in subsidies, according to The Los Angeles Times.

New York and California are the nation's top draws for entertainment, according to Motion Picture Association of America spokesman TJ Ducklo.

California is still ahead of New York. While New York hosted 149 movies and 161 TV series, California had 268 movies and 359 series, according to the latest association figures, from 2012.

De Blasio said he personally lobbied CBS president and chief executive Leslie Moonves to keep "The Late Show" -- which films in the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway -- in New York City once David Letterman passes the torch to Stephen Colbert.

"We would do everything in our power to make sure that they stay," López said.

López, 49, a Sunset Park, Brooklyn, native, will be paid $192,198 as commissioner. She is currently executive vice president and co-executive producer of public television's "POV" documentary series.

She succeeds Katherine Oliver, who had served under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg since 2002.

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