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'Deal or No Deal' production is shifting to Connecticut

The game show, which had been based in Culver City, is moving to take advantage of the state's film and TV production tax breaks.

May 02, 2009|Richard Verrier

In the latest blow to local production, the game show "Deal or No Deal" is moving to Connecticut.

The syndicated game show, hosted by comedian Howie Mandel, has been based out of the Culver Studios in Culver City for the last 3 1/2 years.

But the show, which is produced by Endemol USA and distributed by NBC Universal, will shift production this summer to a studio in Waterford, Conn., to take advantage of that state's film and TV production tax breaks. Most of the 250 people who now work on "Deal or No Deal" will lose their jobs.

Connecticut offers a 30% production tax credit for films and digital media productions. NBC Universal, whose corporate parent General Electric Co. is based in Fairfield, Conn., already has announced plans to move three of its talk shows into a new production facility in Stamford, Conn.: "The Jerry Springer Show," "The Steve Wilkos Show," both from Chicago, and "Maury," from New York.

"I'll never say 'no deal' when there's a real shot at growing jobs and improving the economic outlook for our state," Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell said in a statement.

Connecticut is among more than 30 states that now offer film tax credits and rebates, which has made it increasingly difficult for Los Angeles to keep productions from leaving to other, cheaper locales.

Feature film shoots in L.A. recently dropped to their lowest levels on record, partly driven by so-called runaway production.

High-profile prime-time sitcoms and dramas also have been lured away. Last year, ABC opted to move the comedy show "Ugly Betty" to New York to take advantage of tax breaks in that state.

Fox said last month that some scenes of its drama "24" would be shot in New York, although production would remain based in Los Angeles.

"It draws attention to the fact that California has not become fully competitive in the marketplace," said Paul Audley, president of the film permit group FilmL.A. Inc.

In an effort to curb the trend, the state recently approved $500 million in film tax credits over five years. But shows like "Deal or No Deal" aren't eligible. The program, which takes effect in July, is limited to new TV series that are produced for basic cable, or any TV series that is returning to California, as well as films that cost less than $75 million.

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richard.verrier@latimes.com

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