Monday, March 12, 2012

Another Hollywood South bomb

Sooner or later everyone who's anyone in Louisiana is going to be involved in a film tax credit scandal of some sort. Today, it's Blaine Kern's turn.
BATON ROUGE - Nearly $1 million in tax credits designed to spur on Louisiana's film industry instead offset the construction costs of Mardi Gras floats built in 2006 by Blaine Kern Artists, according to a report from the legislative auditor's office. The studio claimed the construction of the floats was part of the production cost for "Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras: Building of the Greatest Free Show on Earth," a documentary that was never released for distribution.
Just in case you're interested in ever becoming somebody who is somebody and taking advantage of this program yourself, here's how it works.

1) Figure a way to define whatever it is that you do as being somehow crucial to the "creative cultural character of Louisiana" or some such nonsense. This descriptor can be stretched to apply to just about any activity you can think of such as riding a bike, for example.

2) Take out your mobile phone or your flip cam, or your light remote controlled aircraft and film this culturally significant activity of yours.

3) Say your footage is a "documentary." Call it, "Louisiana Lickin': An In Depth Look At How A New Orleanian Seals His Envelopes" or maybe even "Mr. Ghetto Goes to Wal-Mart" Anything that sounds even remotely saleable.

4) *Poof* Right then and there, you're probably eligible for Louisiana Film Tax Credits. Feel free to hire ex-Saints long snapper Kevin Houser as your sales agent.

Maybe some day an auditor will come knocking at your door asking questions, but hey, "everyone is doing it", so who can complain?

In a voluminous response to the report, attorneys for the company argued that the report singles out Blaine Kern Artists for practices that were widespread among live entertainment documentaries that applied for the tax credit during the same time period. Those productions include Jazz Fest, Voodoo Fest and Essence Fest.

The Hollywood South program is a boondoggle that has cost Louisiana taxpayers billions of dollars but remains untouchable even as the Legislature convenes to consider Governor Jindal's plan to gut public education, mental health (see this week's Gambit not yet online), and state employees' pensions to make up the gap in the budget. But at least, in the process, it has afforded us an opportunity to watch some of our most flamboyant clowns and scoundrels get caught up in hilarious public legal squabbles. Maybe some day someone will turn it into a documentary...

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