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Big-Budget TV Show Threatening To Leave Pittsburgh If Pa. Budget Stalemate Continues

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Some fear the budget stalemate in Harrisburg could end up costing Pittsburgh thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue.

Pittsburgh has been called "Hollywood East" because of the movies and TV shows filmed here in recent years. Each one creates jobs and pumps money into the economy.

But those associated with the film industry say several new projects that want to film here may go elsewhere because there's no state budget. Because of the budget delay, no applications for Pennsylvania's film tax credits can be approved.

"There's a show that's threatening to leave this week, if we don't get answer from the state," said Chris Breakwell from 31st Street Studios in the Strip District.

Breakwell can't name the show but says it's a big-budget one.

"The one show in particular is a $60 million show, so that's $60 million spent in the city of Pittsburgh," he says.

Or maybe not spent here, if the tax credit hold-up continues.

He says there are actually three movies and two TV series interested in filming in Pittsburgh, but none will commit because of the uncertainly over the tax break.

The director of the new movie "Love the Coopers" says the tax break was part of the reason that movie was filmed in Pittsburgh.

"It's an amazing thing," said Director Jessie Nelson. "We get to bring a lot of work into Pittsburgh and then the gift back is you get a certain incentive for doing that."

Breakwell fears the TV shows and movies waiting for Harrisburg, may eventually have to pick a new location.

"Toronto or Atlanta," said Breakwell.

"If we don't get a budget soon, as in yesterday, we're going to lose major work for Southwestern Pennsylvania," said Dawn Keezer from the Pittsburgh Film Office.

The film office claims in the last 20 years, movies and TV shows have pumped $1 billion into the local economy.

After years of working to line up projects, they now have a list of them but fear they'll lose them because of the state.

While there are critics of the film tax credits because they say the jobs created come and go. Proponents say that's not really the case because work is so steady that Pittsburgh crew members have work here all year long.

Breakwell also says people should not underestimate the amount of money spent in the Pittsburgh area by the movie makers. Money, he fears will be lost if Harrisburg can't get a budget deal done.

"It's very frustrating actually because we know the net effects of it, the hotel rooms, the restaurants, the lumber," he said.

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