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October 7, 2015

Betty to bite the Big Apple?

by Allison Waldman, posted May 7th 2008 8:39AM
Vanessa Williams Ugly BettyI have to hand it to the producers of ABC's Ugly Betty; they've re-created the look of New York City and Queens so effectively in the first two seasons that I thought they did film the show in the Big Apple. Well, no. They filmed the pilot in Manhattan and inserted a real location or two here and there, but the bulk of the series has been filmed in Los Angeles. (Although the Wicked episode was clearly not a Broadway theater -- it was just too spacious!)

Now comes words that the Ugly Betty production may actually pull up stakes and make New York its real home, complete with costumes, props, studio and stars. The ABC Studios are contemplating the relocation for financial reasons, including very lucrative tax credits. While that's good for the producers, it sucks for the crew. They won't be transported to the city; they'll be let go -- about 150 in all. But if you're a glass half-full kind of person, that's 150 new jobs for New York workers. As for the stars, this change isn't a big deal as most are from New York and aren't objecting to moving -- at least that's the word from ABC.

There's one other interesting twist in this story. While the cast and key production team would call New York home, the Betty writing staff are going to stay in Los Angeles. I don't know if that's being done for financial reasons -- i.e. they don't want to pay to ship them back East -- or they feel that the writers can produce scripts from anywhere. Sounds like a dumb move to me; living in New York can imbue everything you write. It's not the same living in SoCal and writing about taking the subway from Queens to Times Square. A slice of Ray's Original pizza (from any one of the original Ray's, and there are dozens of them!) in New York is not the same as a California Pizza Kitchen pie in L.A. If it were up to me, I'd move the writers, too.

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Brent McKee

It is most definitely being done for economic reasons - New York recently passed a bunch of new tax credits to benefit film and TV productions in that state, benefits to the tune of about 35%. These are the same sort of tax credits that "The Governator" refuses to even try to introduce in California. Net result: "Ugly Betty" production moves to New York, 300 members of the crew lose their jobs on that show, revenues (and taxes) from the purchase or rental of supplies, equipment, and services all exit the California economy.

May 08 2008 at 5:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I believe the Wicked scenes were filmed at the L.A. Pantages Theatre. I hope the writers are not seen as expendible. Maybe they don't want to move to NY. Seems a strange division!

May 08 2008 at 9:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hmmmmm, I don't know about that. I like the kind of whimsical New York Betty lives in, especially those scenes shot in her neighborhood which have that soundstage/CGI background look that works for the show. Are they going to be shooting on real locations? Are the Suarez' moving to a new neighborhood? They're making a lot of changes at BETTY, from the firing of Marco Pennette to all the recent stunt casting to this potential move. I fear ABC is going to completely ruin the charm of this show.

May 07 2008 at 1:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"living in New York can imbue everything you write"

You're a New Yorker, aren't you?

May 07 2008 at 12:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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