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SHOOTING STARS: LV production pros revive quest for incentives

It’s an idea whose time has come — again.

With the Nevada Legislature’s 2011 session only a few months away (Feb. 7, to be specific), Las Vegas’ production community is once again gearing up to propose tax incentives to lure more movie and TV projects to the Silver State.

Previous attempts to get incentive bills passed have gone nowhere in the legislature, but this time could be different, proponents suggest.

“We feel that we need to diversify the economy in a way that’s complementary to gaming,” explains James “JR” Reid, president of Las Vegas-based JR Lighting.

And bringing more production to Nevada would bring “new sources of revenue,” he points out. “Overall, every dollar spent on incentives returns about $1.50” to the location, according to Reid.

“It would be a very positive step for us,” just as it’s been for most of the 46 states that have incentives, he argues.

Reid shared plans for the tax-incentive proposal at a recent meeting sponsored by Women in Entertainment, a division of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s really imperative at this slow time in the economy to get more film production here,” according to Women in Entertainment’s Diana Eden, a veteran costume designer who relocated to Las Vegas a few years ago.

“Even for stories set in Las Vegas,” Eden comments, “it’s so difficult to compete with New Mexico,” which has a booming production business thanks in no small measure to the state’s 25 percent production tax rebate, which refunds a quarter of production expenses, including New Mexico labor, subject to state taxation.

For example, DreamWorks’ upcoming “Fright Night” remake recently spent a day in Las Vegas shooting second-unit establishing shots, including some aerial views. But the production was based primarily in the Albuquerque area and employed about 175 New Mexico cast and crew members during the shoot, according to New Mexico Business Weekly.

“Since 2003, when (New Mexico) Gov. Bill Richardson began pushing the state’s film incentives more aggressively,” the business journal reported, “there have been 141 major film and television productions made here, with an estimated economic impact of $3 billion. There are more than 10,000 direct and indirect film-related jobs in the state, according to (New Mexico) officials, and more than 250 businesses and services directly related to the industry.”

Specifics for a viable Nevada incentive plan “are still in the works,” Reid notes, with the Nevada Film Office and the state’s Commission on Economic Development providing input. More details will be available soon on a website devoted to the subject; stay tuned to Shooting Stars for additional details.

Poker faces: The World Poker Tour is back at Bellagio for Festa al Lago, which continues through Wednesday. And that means Fox Sports Network is back at Bellagio too.

In addition to Wednesday’s final-table coverage (which will air at a later date), WPT’s Royal Flush Girls are scheduled to be in front of the cameras Sunday night — in front of Bellagio’s famed fountains.

Taking flight: Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air will take to the airwaves with a new commercial scheduled to shoot Wednesday and Thursday.

Planned locations include the iconic (and inevitable) “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, plus a golf course and a pool.

The spots are scheduled to begin airing in November in markets Allegiant serves from Las Vegas and Phoenix, according to Sabrina LoPiccolo, Allegiant’s public relations and promotions manager.

Dew tell: The Dew Tour Championships at the Hard Rock Hotel, scheduled to conclude Sunday, prompted considerable TV attention during its four-day run, including live weekend coverage on NBC (simulcast internationally on Eurosport2) and cable’s USA channel.

And MTV2’s “Rock N Jock,” which mixes music and extreme sports footage, plans to air hourlong episodes this coming Saturday and next.

Reality bites: Speaking of the Hard Rock Hotel, MTV’s “The Real World” continues production, along with History’s Las Vegas staple “Pawn Stars” and its soon-to-debut spinoff, “American Restoration."

Spot news: A commercial for Virginia-based nTelos wireless communications visited Southern Nevada last week, with locations ranging from Fremont Street to Valley of Fire, according to Las Vegas-based Eddie Fickett, who handled locations.

In addition to Southern Nevada, the spot also features New Orleans, Seattle and Washington, D.C., Fickett notes.

And a new campaign for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority — the wonderful folks who brought you “What happens here, stays here” — also recently concluded production, he adds.

In addition to spotlighting local attractions, the campaign spotlighted the talents of local production companies — including JR Lighting.

“We’re grateful they used local folks,” Fickett says of the LVCVA shoot.

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