Ancient Egypt rises in New Mexico
LOS ANGELES -- New Mexico, which has doubled for Afghanistan and Morocco, is about to stand in for ancient Egypt.
The new drama "Hieroglyph," produced by 20th Century Fox TV and Chernin Entertainment, will begin filming at Albuquerque Studios next month, the studio said.
Elaborate sets for the show are taking up four sound stages at the sprawling production complex, where the hit AMC TV series "Breaking Bad" also was based.
Starring British actor Reece Ritchie, "Hieroglyph" is a fantasy drama set in the land of the pyramids.
The show follows a notorious thief who is plucked from prison to serve the pharaoh, navigating palace intrigue, seductive concubines, and various criminal characters and sorcerers.
"We wanted to do a show about deceit, sex, intrigue in the court and fantastical goings-on -- no better place to set that than ancient Egypt," Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly said in a statement.
Created by Travis Beacham, co-writer of the movie "Pacific Rim," the series was given a straight-to-series order in mid-October 2013.
Producers are taking advantage of the state’s 30 percent rebate to offset production costs for the 13 episodes.
New Mexico has a long history of playing other countries. Most recently it filled in for Afghanistan in the box office hit "Lone Survivor" starring Mark Wahlberg, and in "Brothers," starring Natalie Portman and Tobey Maguire.
The outskirts of Deming, N.M., doubled for Morocco in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."
As a location, New Mexico has seen its ups and downs in recent years. Thanks to generous tax rebates, the state became a hotbed for film production, especially under the administration of former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson. But filming dropped off more than two years ago when Richardson’s successor, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, called for a big cut in the state’s film rebate program.
Martinez then changed course and approved legislation that increased the state’s rebate to 30 percent from 25 percent for TV series shooting at least six episodes in the state.
The new incentive was dubbed the "Breaking Bad Bill" in recognition of the AMC series’ contributions to New Mexico.
After seeing a falloff in activity, business has picked up in New Mexico, which also will host the "Breaking Bad" spinoff, "Better Call Saul."
"It’s great to see the parking lot filling up with New Mexico license plates again," said Wayne Rauschenberger, chief operating officer of Albuquerque Studios.
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