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Miami's new vice: Taxpayers financing boom in TV shows

Even Crockett and Tubbs couldn't spark the kind of television boom poised to arrive in South Florida this year. But taxpayers did.

Eight months after Tallahassee enacted a 370 percent increase in subsidies for movies and television productions, five major shows plan to film in South Florida. From an ABC remake of Charlie's Angels to the long-running USA Network spy drama Burn Notice, the shoots have the local production industry stretching back even beyond the Miami Vice era for comparisons.

"If all these go, it will be the busiest we've been in a long, long time," said J.B. Jones, 79, owner of Unique Producers Services in Opa-locka and a veteran of South Florida's production industry.

Though long a magnet for telenovelas and reality shows, scripted series from Hollywood have been a fleeting presence in South Florida since detectives Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs finished their final shift on the Vice squad in 1989.

There were some prospects, notable and otherwise. Both CSI:Miami and Dexter dabbled with filming on location but finally opted for fake Miami backdrops in California instead of the real thing. UPN filmed all of South Beach locally but canceled the forgettable show. The WB's Aquaman pilot never aired.

In fact, since Vice, no major scripted series had shot a second season in South Florida until USA renewed Burn Notice shortly after its debut in the summer of 2007. The program about an unemployed spy marooned in Miami begins shooting its fifth season next month.

But with Florida committing $242 million in subsidies over the next five years — up from just $5 million in 2009 — Burn Notice now has company.

The Glades, an A&E series about a Chicago detective living in rural Florida, will start its second season in Broward County this spring. Magic City, a period drama about the underside of Miami Beach's hotel industry in the 1950s, is reportedly negotiating for studio space on the Miami River, while producers of the Angels remake and a possible spin-off of the Fox hit Bones plan to start filming their pilots in the coming weeks.

"We're becoming such a TV-series town, and it's all at once," said Graham Winick, head of Miami Beach's film office.

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