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Rebate Program Tacks Into Stiff Wind

Espresso3Fringe, the hit Fox series produced by Warner's that was filmed in New York, is packing up and moving to Vancouver, because the state has exhausted all of its money for its tax incentive programs. Coupled with California lawmakers approving $500 million in tax incentives to Hollywood in its latest budget, New York production could drop off considerably, particularly because the state faces mounting deficits (even though they're not nearly as bad as California's). The city landed no pilots this winter because of the exhausted funds; it had more than a dozen shoot here last year. Representatives from the Screen Actors Guild will lobby state lawmakers in Albany tomorrow to get the funding restored, sources close to the situation told Espresso.

77 PERCENT SOLUTIONS: Theatre Communications Group, which promotes nonprofit theatre, has a new study out that says 77 percent of companies were laying off staff, freezing salaries, cutting travel, or discounting tickets to get through the downturn, Crain's reports.

NEA FUNDS: Denver Post, via ArtsJournal.com, had a good story on Sunday about how the extra $50 million in funding for the NEA might be divvied. It seems 40 percent will go to state arts organizations, which are facing severe budget cutbacks as states try to balance budgets, and 60 percent will go to directly to organizations for the support of jobs.

HARSH REALITY, NO. 534: Also via the indispensable ArtsJournal.com, it seems reality TV is more diverse than scripted content, the San Jose Mercury News reports. This after years of lobbying by Rev. Jesse Jackson, and years of Hollywood executives saying they were aware of the problem and would try to do better.

BY THE BOARDS: Broadway grosses showed a moderate gain last week, up more than $700,000. It's significant because the Main Stem actually showed an increase the week after a holiday weekend (Presidents Day), in what is typically a slow month. What may have helped attendance is that many New York schools were off last week for the mid-winter break, and it's reflected in the big winners: Wicked was up by more than $220,000; Phantom up by more than $127,000, and Billy Elliot more than $125,000. Still, the grosses are down nearly $3 million from this time last year.... Will Ferrell's You're Welcome America set another Cort Theatre record, coming in at $871,127 for the week.

--Andrew Salomon

For the latest SAG drama and other union news, go to Strike Watch.

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