'Army Wives' shipping out?

Lowcountry locales frequently are used as backdrops in the filming of 'Army Wives.' For example, Catherine Bell (right), who portrays Denise Sherwood on the Lifetime television show, was with Executive Producer Katherine Fugate (left) and several crew mem

Lifetime Television renewed its commitment to the hit drama series "Army Wives" this week, but the program's producer remained noticeably quiet on taping its next season in Charleston.

ABC Studios said "Army Wives" plans to monitor the state's film incentives before choosing its home base.

"We are grateful for South Carolina's support, hospitality and beautiful locations," a publicist for ABC Studios said. "But the decision for a location is based on economics as well as creative, and we need assurance the state will continue the current tax credit program."

South Carolina currently allocates $15 million annually into wage and supplier incentives, but those tax-funded inducements, only a few years old, remain under scrutiny.

Two studies determined radically different values attached to the money spent. The University of South Carolina found that the state gets $3.68 back for every dollar invested in film production, while the College of Charleston determined that the state loses 81 cents on the dollar.

"Army Wives" is filming its third season in and around the Holy City in anticipation of a June premiere. The show garnered 80 million viewers in its second season, making it the most successful series in Lifetime's history.

The show also has given a boost to the local movie industry by developing a local crew base and provides a learning opportunity for film production students, according to Jeff Monks, state film commissioner.

Monks said film companies today worry about banks squeezing them and states trimming back incentives because of budget cuts.

"There's a kind of double layer of anxiety," Monks said.

A Senate Film Incentives Study Committee is set to meet for the final time next week.

The group has spent months evaluating whether incentives designed to lure more movie-makers to South Carolina are effective and how they can function better.

"When it's all said and done, the monies that are allocated by the Legislature should be available," Monks said.