Film Feed

Attention Pennsylvania digital aficionados, your electronic addictions are about to cost you a bit more. Gov. Tom Wolf on July 13 signed into law his state's fiscal 2017 revenue package. Among its provisions is an extension of the Keystone State's 6 percent sales and use tax to digital downloads of books, music, satellite radio and video and audio streaming. The new tax collection will take effect Aug. 1. It's expected to bring in nearly $47 million in its first year. Those millions of dollars in extra revenue are tempting targets for this week's By the Numbers honor. So is the... Read more →


"Millions flee Georgia for the safety of North Carolina's bathrooms," quipped New Yorker columnist Andy Borowitz after the Tar Heel State's governor signed into a law a measure that, among other things, revokes local protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The part of the bill that's gotten most attention is, as Borowitz notes, the one that requires transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding with the gender they were born with rather than the one they identify with. North Carolina is the first state to require this. Last year, Houston, Texas, passed a similar law for facilities... Read more →


It's Oscar nomination day! Let the arguments begin over who was properly recognized (yay Bryan Cranston for "Trumbo"), who was snubbed (Idris Elba and Johnny Depp both ignored!) and who surprised (yay again, this time for great film composer Carter Burwell) film fans and the industry by getting Academy Award nods. I'm sure someone already is researching which of the Best Film nominees got film tax credits. I suspect they all did, just like last year's batch. And one thing is for sure when it comes to future award-worthy movies. If they're made in New Jersey, the film makers will... Read more →


The biggest hit on Broadway right now is an inventive musical about the United States' first Treasury Secretary. "Hamilton" actors, left to right, Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette, Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan, Anthony Ramos as John Laurens, and the musical's writer and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda as the titular Alexander Hamilton. (Photo via BroadwayBox.com) And on Friday, the tax extenders bill became law, including a new provision that gives a tax break to shows on the Great White Way. Coincidence? I think not. Tax help from "Hamilton?" Maybe: OK, I don't really think that Lin-Manuel Miranda's record-setting "Hamilton" is... Read more →


I'm a big movie fan. I also am a personal finance/tax nut. So it's a big day for me as those two worlds converge. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association today announced its nominees for its annual Golden Globe awards. Two financially-themed movies, "99 Homes" and "The Big Short," were tabbed. Christian Bale, nominated for a Golden Globe as best lead actor, rocking out in a scene from "The Big Short." Both films are based on the housing industry collapse that followed the reckless subprime mortgages banks handed out right and left during the 2000s. That led to the disastrous (and... Read more →


Michael Myers, the masked slasher who terrorizes towns and teens on Halloween, obviously loves Oct. 31. Michael Myers of "Halloween" film infamy is thrilled that Oct. 31 is finally here. Click image to see his happy dance. Since the original "Halloween" movie debuted at the end of October 1978 (I was in one of those packed theaters in Lubbock, Texas), 10 sequels have followed, most of them involving franchise creator John Carpenter. It cost Carpenter and crew around $300,000 almost four decades ago to bring the terror of Michael Myers to the big screen. The trademark mask the character wears... Read more →


I grew up in Texas. West Texas, to be specific, where independence is, in large part because of the vast distances between towns, not just a concept but a necessity. So it's no surprise that labor unions essentially were nonentities in my early life. That said, I grew up appreciating the value of unions. My dad, an oil field worker his whole life, made sure my brother and I knew that labor unions are to be valued by all workers, regardless of whether they belong to one. Sally Field won her first Oscar for her portrayal of title character Norma... Read more →


The annual arrival of Father's Day emphasizes just how much being a dad has changed. When I was a kid, a father's main role was being the breadwinner. And dads back then weren't all that emotional, or at least mine wasn't. But that was OK. I didn't need dad around all the time telling me he loved me. My brother and I both knew it and we cherished the time we spent with Dad, either on our own or in family gatherings. Today, however, a lot of fathers take a more hands-on approach to raising kids. Good for them and... Read more →


Between Jan. 1 and March 31, the most Americans ever in one calendar quarter renounced their citizenship. The first quarter of 2015 report released by Treasury last week contained the names of 1,335 U.S. expatriates. That's a new quarterly record, handily surpassing the 1,130 who gave up their citizenship in the second quarter of 2013. Are territorial taxes to blame? Federal law -- section 6039G of the Internal Revenue Code, actually -- demands the Treasury Department list each quarter the names of Americans who renounce their citizenship. Treasury is not required by the law, however, to find out or note... Read more →


Happy May 4, the unofficial holiday of Star Wars geeks and punsters worldwide. I admit it. I've already intoned "May the 4th be with you" several times today, but I'm justified. I've always been a sci-fi fan. And I discovered more of them when I went off to college, where I got to be a part of a class at Texas Tech that analyzed the genre through the eyes of professors in ancient world history, classics and modern literature, archaeology and anthropology. It's also where I penned my first science fiction short story and got encouragement from one of the... Read more →


We'll learn tonight which of eight films -- American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash -- that the Academy Awards voters have deemed as 2015's Best Picture. Las Vegas odds makers say it's a tight race between Birdman and Boyhood, with the Michael Keaton comeback movie having a slight edge over Richard Linklater's innovatively filmed look at a boy and his family. UPDATE: Birdman was the big winner. Get full Oscars results at the awards' website. From a tax perspective, however, all of the flicks already are winners. Yep,... Read more →


It's always been a challenge to teach kids history. They truly live in the moment. History is what happened to old people. But on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2015, tens of thousands of young people have an opportunity to see and hear some remarkable representations of history. "Selma," the acclaimed new movie of the Dr. King led historic march for civil rights, is screening nationwide. In an effort to get kids into movie theaters to see the film, groups in around two dozen cities are offering free tickets to middle and high school students. Click the image to... Read more →


It's day three -- or more for some -- of the Thanksgiving holiday. Are you tired of your relatives yet? No judging here. The hubby and I tend to do our families and ourselves a favor and celebrate holidays on our own or show up for the big day only. Everyone can maintain for 24 hours or less at least a semblance (or façade) of patience and goodwill. If, however, you're still in the midst of a mass of relatives, it may be time for a movie break. A quick cinematic note. Most Thanksgiving movies tend to deal with crazy... Read more →


Yo ho, all ye salty sea dogs and scalawags. Just a quick reminder on this annual Talk Like a Pirate Day that ill-gotten gains, including but not limited to pillaged pirate loot, are taxable. I suspect that Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder and 2013 MLB National League MVP, and his crew of sports team buccaneer mascots will escape Internal Revenue Service scrutiny for their plundering of ESPN's lox. But look out all ye other crooks, both landlubbing and on the high seas. Don't try to show your heels to the IRS. It was, after all, the federal tax man who... Read more →


Thirty-seven years ago the musical world was in shocked mourning. Just a day earlier, Aug. 16, 1977, Elvis Aaron Presley had died. Many people can still tell you where they were on that Tuesday afternoon more than three decades ago when they got the news that the King was dead. I can't. I was probably in a class at Texas Tech University. But I wasn't then and am not now a big Elvis fan (despite what I've discovered is a surprising number of Elvis-related blog posts), so it doesn't stick in my memory. Still, I recognize his place in the... Read more →


Forty years ago yesterday, Aug. 9, President Richard M. Nixon resigned his office. I remember that event. I also remember the movie based on the Washington Post reporting that helped end the term of the nation's 37th president. One of the actors involved in the award-winning All the President's Men was back in the news recently, but it had nothing to do with Watergate and the subsequent historic Oval Office departure. Robert Redford, second from left, with another Republican president under more pleasant circumstances, the awarding of the Kennedy Center honors in December 2005. Joining Redford at the White House... Read more →


$16 million in tax breaks ensure CBS' Late Show stays in NYC

$16 million. That's how much in tax breaks CBS is eligible for by keeping The Late Show in the Big Apple. The bulk of the money is $11 million in tax credits over five years. Then there's another $5 million in grants from Empire State Development to offset costs of renovating the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway for its soon-to-be-new host Stephen Colbert. Stephen Colbert appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman on April 23, following the announcement that the Comedy Central funny man would take over the CBS program after Letterman retires in 2015. Colbert came armed with... Read more →


The cinematic chronicling of Frank Underwood's Machiavellian ways in House of Cards will continue in Maryland. State officials and the Netflix show's production company Media Rights Capital have reached an $11.5 million tax break agreement that will keep the political thriller filming in Maryland. "Spoiler alert: we're going to keep the 3,700 jobs and more than 100 million dollars of economic activity and investment that House of Cards generates right here in Maryland," said the state's Gov. Martin O'Malley in a statement announcing the deal. It was a victory of sorts for the Old Line State. Media Rights Capital had... Read more →


Many folks spent Easter, either the full weekend starting on Good Friday and ending on this important Christian holiday, going to church services and/or visiting family. But sometimes, a break is welcome. A good one on this Easter Sunday is to take in an appropriately themed movie. Faith-based movies are in vogue right now, with several recent releases, including Noah, Heaven is Real and Son of God doing well at the box office. Hey, believing is important, but so is paying real-life bills. Check your local Cineplex to see if these flicks are still on the wide screen in your... Read more →


The Oscars will be handed out tonight, but thanks to state tax credits some movies already are big winners. Economics21, a Washington, D.C.-based center of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, examined the finances of 2014's nine nominees for Best Picture and found that The Wolf of Wall Street takes the top award in the tax subsidy category. New York's film production credit could end up covering around $30 million of the costs Martin Scorsese ran up making the dark comedy about corporate greed. Irony much? Empire State taxpayers don't support just big name movie stars like Wolf's Leonardo DiCaprio... Read more →