Progressives: Taxpayer money for ABC’s ‘Nashville’ should go to homeless instead

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

NASHVILLE — Tennessee taxpayers will reportedly fork over $8 million more to ABC’s “Nashville,” in exchange for the show’s continued filming on location for its third season.

Believe it or not, this time big government types are lashing out against this corporate welfare — but not for the reasons you’d suspect.

They want city officials to give that money to the city’s homeless population instead.

GLAMOROUS: An ABC publicity photo telling loyal viewers that “Nashville” will return for a third season — at a reported cost of $8 million to taxpayers.

Media reports emerged Friday saying state taxpayers will pay $5.5 million to the show, while Nashville taxpayers will chip in $1 million. The Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. meanwhile, will contribute $500,000 to the show, while the city’s Metro Event and Marketing Fund will contribute another $500,000, NCVC spokeswoman Leigh Anne Sanders told Tennessee Watchdog Monday.

The Event and Marketing Fund receives revenue from a 50-cent tax on every hotel room used, Sanders said.

The privately funded Ryman Hospitality Properties, meanwhile, will contribute an additional $500,000, said Ryman spokeswoman Shannon Sullivan in an email to Tennessee Watchdog.

The same day media reports of the new deal emerged, Nashville Scene, which caters to a more progressive audience, said Metro Nashville Police officers were about to shut down a homeless camp along the banks of the Cumberland River.

Because of the coincidental timing, readers took to the Scene’s Facebook page to erupt with self-righteous anger toward city officials and their supposed callousness toward the less fortunate.

Scene readers also had a few choice demeaning words about the quality of the network soap.

Among only a few of the highlights:

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A police department spokeswoman who didn’t give her name, and who said spokesman Don Aaron was unavailable, told Tennessee Watchdog on Monday that police had no immediate plans to remove any homeless from the camp.

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development spokesman Clint Brewer told Tennessee Watchdog last month that state officials had no more than $3.4 million to give the show for a third season.

That’s almost one-fourth the amount state officials awarded the show for season two for the same purpose. It’s slightly half what they gave for season one.

As previously reported, the show’s producers were unhappy with this stated sum for season three and had threatened to film the show in Georgia or Texas instead for better taxpayer-funded incentive offers.

Brewer and other ECD officials didn’t immediately respond Monday to Tennessee Watchdog’s request for comment on the reported offer costing state taxpayers an additional $2 million.

Members of Mayor Karl Dean’s staff also didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

Nashville Metro Council members voted unanimously last year to give $500,000 to the show’s second season with virtually no debate.

As previously reported, even if producers relocated, the fictional show itself would keep its Nashville setting, and regular viewers might not notice a difference. The Nashville crew, for instance, mostly doesn’t film at the city’s actual Bluebird Café, one of the show’s principal locations, but on a recreated set instead.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org. or follow him and submit story ideas on his official Facebook page.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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