Tennessee Taxpayers Paying for Left-Wing Agenda-Driven Show with ‘Bluff City Law,’ Attorney Says


An attorney and native Tennessean has taken the NBC series Bluff City Law to task for not only taking taxpayer money from state residents but also for pushing a left-wing agenda.

Writing for The Federalist, Clark L. Hildabrand, who currently lives in Virginia, wrote that news of the legal-based drama filmed on location in Memphis initially excited him.

But he later wrote that the show “has perhaps forgotten that Republicans watch television, too.”

“Why the Republican-led Tennessee government decided to support such an ideologically charged and shoddy show is beyond me.  Tennessee is spending $2.5 million to subsidize the program. Memphis and Shelby County promised another $1.4 million, and Memphis Tourism threw $300,000 in on top of that. Normally in a capitalist economy, businesses bear the risks and rewards of their efforts. We pay taxes, such as the $400 professional privilege tax my wife pays each year to keep her Tennessee law license, for a legal system that allows fair competition,” Hildabrand wrote.

“Here, however, Tennessee taxpayers are shelling out money for a struggling television show that has no doubt already turned off moderates and conservatives. Bluff City Law recently canceled an order for an additional six episodes due to poor ratings. The show may have spent some money in Tennessee, but out-of-state actors, directors, and writers will pocket more.”

Among the things Hildabrand complained about:

• An episode about a law professor’s attempt to force society to recognize him as decades younger than his actual age. Further plot developments reveal the case “as a ploy to help with transgender advocacy.”

• An episode based off the Charlottesville rally in which Jimmy Smits’ character is rewarded for unprofessional behavior in court.

• An episode about a little girl suing the federal government for global warming.

Hildabrand wrote that the show “does a disservice to Memphis.”

“White supremacists do not infest its streets today (the media’s demand for racists to ridicule tends to outpace supply.) Plus, in Bluff City Law you are more likely to see a Boston transplant or a lesbian attorney than a socially conservative Christian, regardless of the demographics of West Tennessee. Memphis tourism surely will not benefit from Sydney Strait and her brother criticizing the concept of eating ribs either,” Hildabrand wrote.

“In theory, Bluff City Law would also attract industry to a lackluster Memphis economy. But reminding businesses how plaintiff-friendly Memphis courts are is likely to have the opposite effect.  That concern is no doubt one of the reasons why the Memphis Regional Megasite still sits vacant after the state has poured tens of millions of dollars into it. In Tennessee alone, Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga are all more attractive urban options for companies looking to relocate. Perhaps the main benefit of Bluff City Law is that the Memphis City Council got to rub elbows with actors and television executives. One might say that was evident from the get-go.”

Holding Taxpayers Hostage

As The Tennessee Star reported earlier this year, Ron Shultis of the Nashville-based Beacon Center of Tennessee, said past state film incentives proved a terrible value for Tennessee taxpayers.

Beacon is a free market think tank.

“State film incentives became popular in the mid and late 2000s. By 2009, 44 states offered some kind of film incentive. What those in the industry won’t tell you is that since then, 13 states have completely eliminated their programs and several more have reduced theirs because these programs have been shown to be a bad value for taxpayers,” Shultis said at the time.

“In fact, a recent study by Tennessee’s Dept. of Economic and Community Development found that the $69.1 million given over the life of Tennessee’s program has resulted in $14.7 million in state tax collections, or a 21-cent return on the dollar. This estimate is on the higher side compared to most states, with some official state studies stating as little as seven cents on the dollar.”

Even if Bluff City Law is successful and airs for many seasons there are no guarantees it will film on location in Memphis long-term, Shultis added, reminding readers of the now cancelled ABC series Nashville.

Nashville filmed on location in exchange for corporate welfare from state and Nashville officials.

“As we’ve seen repeatedly, networks will hold taxpayers hostage demanding more and more incentives for future seasons,” Shultis said.

“Even with the show Nashville, despite being named after a specific city, ABC threatened to leave and film in Austin, Texas if it did not receive more money for its third season after receiving $16 million in state dollars for the first two seasons.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Bluff City Law” by Bluff City Law. 






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4 Thoughts to “Tennessee Taxpayers Paying for Left-Wing Agenda-Driven Show with ‘Bluff City Law,’ Attorney Says”

  1. […] The Tennessee Star reported in November, an attorney and native Tennessean has taken the NBC series Bluff City Law to task for not only […]

  2. James

    After watching about 15 min of the very first episode, it was obvious this program was just more liberal gibberish, with ridiculous plots, and terrible acting.

  3. Wolf Woman

    Rep. Steve Cohen loves this show I’m sure as it mirrors his progressive beliefs. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was an unpaid “theme” advisor.

    Memphis doesn’t belong to Tennessee. It is a northern extension of Mississippi and has never left its plantation mentality behind.

    1. Ed

      I imagine Mississippi does not want it either. Perhaps relocating Memphis to California
      would be a better option.