Easy Money

Zurik: $11 billion later, Louisiana’s incentives fail to deliver

No other state in the union has given out more in business incentives in recent years than Louisiana. So where's the economic boost? Where's the big jobs boost? Where's the uptick in tax revenue? The findings from our latest investigation leave us, and some national watchdog agencies, with many more questions than answers.

Zurik: Hollywood South or Hollywood Hustle?

Many Louisianans take some pride in their state becoming a hot spot for film and TV projects. And not a few residents make a decent living from working in the industry. But economists worry that the state's entertainment tax credits program is not returning much as an investment of tax dollars, in a time of extreme state budget woes.

Zurik: The $5 million show that wasn’t

Our "Easy Money" series has led us to the expenses claimed by a particular production company for the making of a six-episode realty TV series on the Saints' dance team. Only three episodes were ever made - but the entire production netted the company owner more than a million in state film tax credits. The State Film Office itself didn't question those costs; we did.

Zurik: In-state or out-of-state expenses? Horizon docs raise more questions

Horizon received tax credits based on an audit that it submitted to the state.FOX 8 reviewed that audit as part of documentation about the company that the State Film Office handed over to us.

Zurik: Coach’s show a boon for producers, a bust for taxpayers

At the height of the New Orleans Saints' success in 2009, a behind-the-scenes play caller from Atlanta racked up $1 million, hitching himself to the Saints bandwagon. For two seasons, Horizon Entertainment and its owner, Jason Sciavicco, produced “The Sean Payton Show - and claimed it cost $5,383,886.60. We take a close look at the financial details, and find plenty of new questions about this production, in this "Easy Money" report.

Zurik: Reality TV meets fantasy budgeting in Louisiana

The executive producer of  “Emancipated” told the state it cost almost half a million bucks to make its pilot episode. But the two men who say they created the show can't believe the expenditures being reported. We examine yet another Horizon Entertainment production in our "Easy Money" investigation.

Zurik: State IG to investigate Horizon credits

The state's inspector general will investigate a film company at the center of a probe by FOX 8 Investigations of the state's film tax credits. The IG's office confirms to FOX 8 that it has launched an investigation of Horizon Entertainment and its owner, Jason Sciavicco.

Zurik: Horizon’s millions in film credits draw Kennedy’s ire

The more we examine the expenses reported by Horizon Entertainment in its production of "The Sean Payton Show" and "Saintsational," the more questions we have. Now a top state official has his own questions about the case, and how the State Film Office handled it.

Zurik: Did state fumble on tax credits for John Curtis football documentary?

A reality TV show on one of the country's top prep football programs started production in 2008, shortly after Jason Sciavicco moved Horizon Entertainment from Atlanta to New Orleans. The show, “Varsity Inc.,” was a behind-the-scenes look at the John Curtis Christian high school football program. Horizon claims the 10-month production cost $4.7 million - and it never aired.

Zurik: Nagin prosecutor analyzes Horizon case

Matt Coman's cases helped put Ray Nagin, Greg Meffert, Mark St. Pierre and Jonathan Bolar in federal prison. The former DOJ prosecutor reviewed our stories about Horizon Entertainment and the documents the company submitted to the state to receive those millions in state film tax credits.

Zurik: LED chief taking LSU Foundation job

Louisiana Economic Development chief Stephen Moret will become president and CEO of the LSU Foundation, according to a university news release. Moret currently oversees lucrative state incentives programs at LED, some of which have come under scrutiny in a series of FOX 8 reports.

Zurik: ‘Payoffs for layoffs,’ courtesy of Louisiana

Should the state continue to hand out lucrative incentives to companies that lay off their workers? It's just one of the serious questions raised as we pursue our investigation of Louisiana's business incentive programs - programs that have handed more than $11 billion, often to huge corporations, for a return of about 82,000 jobs in a six-year period.

Zurik: Under scrutiny, Horizon fingers State Film Office

We sent a long email to the head of Horizon Entertainment, Jason Sciavicco, asking him for documents to help explain the more than $2.5 million in tax credits he received from the state of Louisiana for three productions. More than a month later, Sciavicco hasn't sent us any paperwork. But his attorney has said Horizon did nothing improper.