Advocates for Sherri Shepherd’s variety talk show are demanding the governor of New York give the show a filming tax break as the state did for its predecessor, “The Wendy Williams Show.”
Local lawmakers and advocates of diverse media in NYC are concerned that Shepherd might consider relocating to Los Angeles due to an exclusionary situation – her show not being eligible to receive tax credit like other Big Apple live productions. And they want Gov. Kathy Hochul to OK a tax break for the show.
Shepherd’s daytime chat show debuted on September 12, 2022, replacing the longstanding “Wendy Williams Show” on most major Fox-affiliated stations.
Inside the Tax Break Program
Normally, the tax break program credits $420 million per year and rewards productions with budgets of more than $500,000 with refunds for qualified labor expenses and equipment management.
However, since 2020, newer talk shows/variety shows filmed in New York State are not qualified to receive the 25 percent fully refundable credit on production and post-production costs incurred, according to The New York Post.
“The Sherri Show, with a different name, host, and different marketing and advertising campaigns, “is a new variety show which is now legally excluded from the program,” according to the Empire State Development agency, an NYS department that supervises the film tax credit program.
So while “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” received $24 million in state money in 2021, Shepard’s Chelsea, NYC-based production and other similar New York shows are not eligible.
According to ESD, new and relocated variety shows, documentaries, and talk shows are not included in the program.
Tax Break Controversy
“’The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon’ got $24 million in state money in 2021. Why does Jimmy Fallon deserve state handouts more than Sherri Shepherd or any other new show?” asked John Kaehny, director of the government watchdog group Reinvent Albany. In full context, Kaehny is against all shows and films getting state tax breaks.
The problem is also amplified considering the minimal number of Black female hosts in NYS.
“If we allow the Sherri Shepherd show to leave New York, what message are we sending to the diverse audience that supports it?” Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, chairwoman of the Black, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, said in a letter to the governor.
Why the State Issues Tax Breaks
In the 1990s, New York City as a setting for movies and shows was losing out to such cities as Toronto because the production costs to film in the Big Apple were high, The City reported.
To resolved this issue, the state enacted its first tax credit in 2004 to entice filming productions to stay in NYC. The tax break is said to be responsible for New York state’s record job growth and more infrastructure like soundstages and post-production facilities statewide.
Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2017-18 executive budget proposal was an extension of the program, granting qualifying production tax break $420 million per year, through 2022.
In January 2022, it was announced that Hochul would be extending New York state’s film and television production tax credit three more years in her fiscal budget plan in 2023, from 2026 through 2029, Deadline reported.
The new bill to reinclude new talk shows in the tax break passed both state legislative houses in June, and a decision by Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign the bill or veto it has to be made by Dec. 23.