By Paul Leonard
Brooklyn, it seems, is more than ready for its close-up.
With city centers of film production humming, Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined other elected officials on a tour Monday morning of the Brooklyn set of the ABC period drama, "Pan Am"—one of a record 23 primetime TV series filmed across the five boroughs this pilot season.
"We’re working to strengthen and diversify New York City’s economy and create jobs, and our thriving entertainment industry is a prime example of those efforts paying off,” Bloomberg said, citing the 400 positions created on the Pan Am set at Steiner Studios at Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Pan Am joins another buzz-worthy TV show, HBO's Boardwalk Empire, in establishing a strong working presence in the borough. With interiors shot at Steiner Studios, the 1920s period crime drama's cast and crew have frequently been spotted on location throughout Brooklyn—including at a scheduled film shoot Monday at Borough Hall.
Also at Monday's tour, Borough President Marty Markowitz credited Bloomberg, city Media and Entertainment commissioner Katherine Oliver and Gov. Andrew Cuomo for providing "vital" tax incentives to attract more film and TV productions.
That incentive, which provides a 30 percent tax credit on "below the line" production costs for TV shows and films shot in New York, was extended through 2014 by the State Legislature in August 2010—during the administration of former Gov. David Paterson.
"Below the line" costs include spending on things like set-building, electrical work and lighting design. Other costs, such as actor salaries, are not eligible for the tax credit.
It was those behind-the-scenes positions that elected officials like state Sen. Daniel Squadron, D-Brooklyn, hailed as the primary benefit of the increase in city-based TV and film productions.
"The TV and film industry creates jobs for countless New Yorkers," Squadron said. "I'm proud to have Steiner Studios here in my district, joining the Brooklyn Navy Yard in creating new jobs in the heart of the city."
The tax break costs the state up to $420 million a year.
On the other side of the coin, the Mayor's office estimates that the media and entertainment industry contributes over $5 billion to the city economy every year and employs over 100,000 New Yorkers.
Pan Am premieres Sunday, Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. on ABC.