The Bottom Line: Film tax breaks spawn some Valley blockbusters - East Valley Tribune: Business

The Bottom Line: Film tax breaks spawn some Valley blockbusters

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Posted: Wednesday, May 10, 2006 6:38 am | Updated: 2:28 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Tax incentives that kicked in this year are leading to some Hollywood heavy hitters finding their way to the Valley. Local casting agent Faith Hibbs-Clark is in the midst of finding talent for two major motion pictures whose headliners include Oscar winners.

Owner of Good Faith Casting, she is also beginning to cast for “The Kingdom” a drama-thriller written and produced by Michael Mann and starring Jamie Foxx. Filming begins June 12 on a set near Williams Gateway Airport. The film, according to Internet Movie Database, is about a team of U.S. government agents sent to investigate the bombing of an American facility in the Middle East.

“The budget on that is $200 million and we have never ever had a film like that in Arizona,” she said. “They’re building a whole city out in Mesa and then destroying it and blowing it up.”

“The Savages,” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney, starts filming next week in Sun City. The film, part comedy, part drama, is about a sister (Linney) and brother (Hoffman), who have to care for their ailing father despite the fact the three have a distant relationship.

At the start of 2006, Arizona began giving a transferable tax credit for motion picture production costs in the state. If companies spend $250,000 to $1 million in Arizona, they are eligible for a 10 percent income tax credit. If they spend more than $3 million, the tax credit jumps to 20 percent.

Production companies are exempt from sales and use taxes if they purchases machinery or equipment, rent hotels, cater food or construct buildings for their shoots.

DRINKING WITH THE DUKE

No Mother’s Day would be complete without a John Wayne story.

This one comes from Greg Elias, president of Eli’s American Grille in Scottsdale. He says Mother’s Day doesn’t conjure up warm, fuzzy memories because from the time he was 16, he worked on the holiday. But the day does evoke a funny memory, Elias wrote in his company newsletter.

Joe Hunt’s, a longtime restaurant in downtown Scottsdale, was open only two Sundays a year: Easter and Mother’s Day.

After working late Saturday night, Elias and the other employees would double back and serve 1,100 meals on those days, usually between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. On Mother’s Day night in 1974, they were all there dazed and dog-tired around 7:30 when someone started pounding on the door.

“Go away, we’re closed,” we yelled. “Let me in, it’s John Wayne,” came the voice from outside. “Yeah, right,” we laughed. “No, it’s me, let me in.”

You guessed it. In walks Wayne. The actor, Joe Hunt Sr., Joe Hunt Jr., Elias and others sat around drinking for hours.

“We had a ball,” Elias wrote. “I mean, I was a 24 year-old kid and I was partying with John Wayne! I think of it every Mother’s Day.”

Elias says he’ll be working at Eli’s this Mother’s Day too, and he invites moms for a free treat from Chocolate Heaven.

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