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NYC has record year in TV production

Actress Leighton Meester on the set of 'Gossip

Actress Leighton Meester on the set of 'Gossip Girl' outside Milly Madison Avenue, NYC. (Getty) Credit: Actress Leighton Meester on the set of 'Gossip Girl' outside Milly Madison Avenue, NYC. (Getty)

New York sure is big when it comes to the small screen.

2011 was the city's best year for television production, with a record 23 primetime series filmed here, up from nine a decade ago, providing more than 100,000 jobs to New Yorkers and pumping about $5 billion annually to the economy, according to the mayor's office.

The spike is largely due to big tax breaks the city offers and an alluring skyline, experts say, adding that those alone will keep shows flocking here.

"It's very simple: We have a tax incentive higher here than Los Angeles ... and there are few cities in the world more cinematic than New York," said Karl Bardosh, a professor of film and TV production at NYU.

"As long as those factors remain in place ... shows will continue to pour in," he said.

Some of the biggest hits filmed in the city include: "30 Rock," "Boardwalk Empire" and "Gossip Girl," which marked its 100th episode Thursday at an event with the mayor.

The Bloomberg administration has made attracting film crews here a priority, and the Screen Actors Guild called the tax breaks "a boon to production."

Those breaks, combined with the city's setting and gigantic pool of "very respected talent," mean the trend of shows filming here will likely go up, said David Bushman, a curator of television at The Paley Center for Media.

"There's an economic factor, the charisma and dynamism of the city itself, and I don't think there's any other city in the world that is as dynamic and has as strong a character," he said.

But Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture
at Syracuse University, said there's a ceiling to how much TV production will flock here.

"I don't think we're ever going to get to the point where the balance of production shifts back to New York," he said, citing weather and L.A.'s proximity to the film industry.

Still, Bushman said that as long as TV shows filmed here succeed, more will come.

"These successful shows have proved that the model of filming here works," he said, "and as long as they're successful, other shows will come here trying to emulate it."

Follow reporter Tim Herrera on Twitter: @tim_herrera

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