How 'The Tonight Show' received a rebate from Minnesota

The "Tonight Show" got its rebate despite a rift inside the Minnesota Film and TV Board over the show’s eligibility for public money and concern about scarcity in funding to attract other programs that otherwise might bypass Minnesota. Keep scrolling for a timeline showing the process.

Nov. 7, 2017

A Tonight Show accountant contacts the Minnesota Film and TV Board to let it know of the Super Bowl night episode being planned for Minneapolis and to apply for the state’s Snowbate incentive. A board incentives specialist quickly responds that the show isn’t eligible on the basis of being a “talk show.” The board’s executive director, Melodie Bahan, asks to see the application.

Nov. 8, 2017

Representatives from NBC Universal and Bahan convene a call to discuss incentive options and whether to instead consider the Tonight Show as a “variety show.”

Nov. 9, 2017

Film Board staff seek input from the Snowbate Operations Committee and ask for the advisory group to weigh in within the next day. Several committee members raise objections while a few voice support for awarding incentives to the show.

Dec. 18, 2017

After more than a month of consultation with NBC, her team, state agency officials, lawmakers and others, Bahan informs the show’s producers that it will qualify for Snowbate funding of up to $267,000 if it follows through on spending commitments.

Feb. 4, 2018

The Tonight Show airs live from the Orpheum Theatre hours after the Super Bowl at nearby U.S. Bank Stadium. Jimmy Fallon jokes about permanently moving his show to Minneapolis.

March 20, 2018

Department of Employment and Economic Development Deputy Commissioner Kevin McKinnon cites the show’s subsidy in a message to his boss in suggesting the Snowbate program is in need of a redesign.

June 12, 2018

NBC submits final documentation verifying its Minnesota spending. Film Board staff send the matter to DEED for approval.

July 17, 2018

The Film Board mails a $266,834.50 check to NBC.


Evan Frost | MPR News - Andrew Lipovsky | NBC - Minnesota Film and TV Board email via Public Records Request

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