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The Tonight Show told the state it spent more than $3 million to air in Minnesota, including a $162,000 paycheck for host Jimmy Fallon. Records obtained by Minnesota Public Radio via public records request indicate the show also pocketed $266,834.50 through a Minnesota government rebate program amid questionable eligibility.
The Snowbate program creates a 20 to 25 percent refundable tax credit for production costs of films to attract films.
Minnesota - Taxpayer - Money - Given - Show
Nearly $267,000 of Minnesota Taxpayer Money Given to ‘Tonight Show'
Only certain expenses—excluding alcohol—were eligible.
Show - Staff - Production - Personnel - Cost
Show staff lodging totaled $380,000, in-state production personnel cost more than $320,000, and several days of renting the Orpheum Theatre amounted to $275,000.
That doesn't count food tabs, including a $139.50 dinner and $45 of vitamin water for Super Bowl performer Justin Timberlake.
Documents - NBC - Check - July - Purchases
Documents show NBC received a $266,834.50 check last July for more than $1 million in qualifying purchases. That's more than half of the $500,000 the Legislature allocated to the Snowbate program in 2017-18 fiscal year.
Officials initially denied the incentive to Fallon due to Minnesota law.
Officials - Tonight - Show - Variety - Show
But officials reclassified The Tonight Show as a "variety show," although some questioned the decision, so they could spend taxpayer money, clearing legal barriers.
One consultant questioned the handout because NBC had Super Bowl rights that year.
Event - Incentive - Michelle - Caron - Industry
"They are coming here anyway because of the event, no further incentive needed," wrote Michelle Caron, a long-time industry consultant.
Melodie Bahan, an executive director of the Minnesota Film and TV Board, which requires state consent to issue rebate checks, urged the executive committee of her board to approve the subsidy to keep their ongoing relationship with NBC/Comcast.
Bahn - Opportunity - People - Decision
Bahn said she saw it as an opportunity to hire 100 plus local people and pay them well, not as a "controversial decision."
"I am very confident in the process that we followed and that we did everything correctly," she wrote. "And the program worked...
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