Nashville Council Approves $500K Film Incentive Package for ABC’s ‘Nashville’

Press release from Tennessee Watchdog; September 11, 2013:

Spoiler alert! Nashville officials finalize taxpayer money for ABC series

NASHVILLE — If you attended Tuesday’s Nashville Metro Council meeting hoping for a debate on whether government has a rightful place subsidizing ABC’s “Nashville” with taxpayer money, you left disappointed.

If, however, you attended the meeting hoping for spoilers resolving last May’s season-ending cliffhanger, you got precisely what you wanted.

As expected, the 40 council members unanimously rubber stamped Mayor Karl Dean’s plan to give half a million dollars in taxpayer money to the network series, in exchange for it to continue filming on location.There was no vigorous debate, despite an earlier promise from council member Ronnie Steine, who co-sponsored the resolution.

In fact, Steine introduced the resolution and got passage in fewer than three minutes. A star-struck Steine giddily talked about lead actress Connie Britton, who plays Rayna James. In the first season’s cliffhanger, Britton’s character wrecked her car, leaving it unclear whether she would survive.

“I don’t think we can get a bigger bang for our buck. Just as a spoiler alert, as it pertains to downtown filming for those who watch regularly, apparently Rayna James did survive,” said Steine, eliciting intense laughter among the council.

As Tennessee Watchdog previously reported, state officials already gave the show’s second season $12.5 million in taxpayer money as long as it filmed on location. Dean, meanwhile, promised taxpayer money for the same purpose — but he made the promise before he could finalize it.

As series Executive Producer Steve Buchanan said at a Budget and Finance Committee meeting this week, the season’s fifth episode is already filming in the city.

At that meeting, committee members’ only concerns involved how best to verify that a majority of episodes are filmed on location, as promised, and whether the show’s security and catering vendors are based in Nashville.

About 6.5 million people watch the show every week. Steine and other city officials believe the show will lure tourists, thus paying off with increased economic benefits.

Buchanan told Tennessee Watchdog he’s not sure what the show would have done had council members decided against subsidizing it.

“This particular request comes from the studios — Lionsgate. The studios are the ones paying for the production. I can’t answer your question. That is for the studio to answer,” Buchanan said.

Calls seeking comment from the Los Angeles-based Lionsgate Studios were not returned.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org.