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Lights, cameras, state tax credits!

Academy Award nominee John C. Reilly was asked recently about his experiences in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for filming of the movie of the same name.

But there was one problem. The film wasn't made there.

"I was excited to go. I was doing research, I was checking out the city," Reilly said in the June 28 issue of New York magazine. "And then Iowa abolished their tax credit for movies and we had to shoot in Ann Arbor."

Well, the Hawkeye State had a good reason for closing down its movie production tax break.

The Iowa film credit program was shut down after allegations of misconduct, such as misuse of the tax breaks and lack of oversight by the state. The state attorney general eventually filed criminal charges against the office's former head, alleging non-felonious misconduct in office.

Michigan making out OK: And Ann Arbor, as Reilly noted, apparently are making out quite nicely where other states are foundering.well from their tax breaks.

I was at a breakfast last week with a woman from the Texas Film Commission and the Lone Star State folks are still stewing over the fact that Drew Barrymore's roller girl movie Whip It, based on Austin's women's roller derby team, had only a tiny bit of local footage.

That's right, primary filing was done in Michigan because of its generous tax benefits.

The value, or not, of film tax breaks: Debates continue to rage nationwide on whether states that are short on money should be giving tax breaks to movie and television productions companies.

The short answer is, no. No way. No how. Never.

The longer answer is that film crews do generate business in the locations where they set up shop. Plus, locals who are hired pay taxes on their earnings and also pump that income back into the area.

Movies made in N.C.: North Carolina became the latest state to say yes to film companies. Before the legislature adjourned early July 10, lawmakers upped the current incentives cap from $7.5 million in tax credits to $20 million.

N.C. legislators also agreed to eliminate the 6.9 state tax that companies had to pay on the incentives. North Carolina had been the only state in the country charging that tax.

But they didn't give Hollywood everything it wanted.

Tar Hill State lawmakers rebuffed industry efforts and left in place the $1 million cap on the amount of a movie star's salary that's eligible for state tax credits.

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