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'House of Cards' Star to Discuss Tax Credits with Md. Lawmakers

The show's production company says other states will be considered as a home base for "House of Cards" if Maryland's tax credits aren't increased. Star Kevin Spacey will be in Annapolis Friday to meet with lawmakers.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley visited the set of "House of Cards" last year. Credit: Governor's office
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley visited the set of "House of Cards" last year. Credit: Governor's office

House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey is scheduled to mingle with Maryland lawmakers at an Annapolis wine bar Friday night as they consider whether to increase tax credits for the political drama, something that the show's producers say must be done to keep filming in Maryland.

Gerard E. Evans, an Annapolis-based lobbyist for the Netflix series, has invited the entire Maryland General Assembly to meet the two-time Academy Award winner who plays the scheming Vice President Frank Underwood in the series, reports The Washington Post.

“He’s coming to promote ‘House of Cards’ and the tax credit,” Evans said of Spacey. “He loves Maryland. He’s got a house here.”

The show’s production company in February sent Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley a letter with this warning: Give us millions more dollars in tax credits, or we will “break down our stage, sets and offices and set up in another state,” The Washington Post reports. A similar letter went to the speaker of the House of Delegates, Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel).

The show stars Spacey and Robin Wright as Frank and Claire Underwood, playing roles as the vice president and his wife, in a political drama that started filming in Harford County in 2012 and returned in 2013 for its second season.

In recent years, Maryland has spent more than $40 million to reward movie and television production companies that choose to film in the state, the Post says, such as “House of Cards” and the Julia Louis-Dreyfus HBO series “Veep.”

Executives from "Veep" will also be at the Red Rock Wine Bar to meet with legislators, the lobbyist said.

The visit is scheduled just a few days after the Senate voted to increase the amount the state can spend next year, to $18.5 million, on a tax credit that rewards movie and television production companies that choose to film in Maryland. “House of Cards” has been the biggest beneficiary in recent years.

The House of Delegates has yet to act on the bill, with about two and a half weeks remaining in the 90-day legislative session.

The show finished its second season in December and has 180 days from then to submit its application for filming the third season, according to the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. The third season, which is supposed to start filming in the spring, but has been pushed back to June while lawmakers grapple with the issue of tax credits.

The show's first season had an economic impact estimated at $138 million, Maryland Film Office Director Jack Gerbes told the Baltimore Sun. That amount included the hiring of 2,198 crew, actors and extras, plus purchasing goods and services from 1,814 Maryland businesses.

Charlie Goldstein, a Media Rights Capital senior vice president, wrote in his letter that the show’s backers must keep their options open, including looking at incentives from other states. He does not specify the amount of tax credits sought from Maryland.

“I wanted you to be aware that we are required to look at other states in which to film on the off chance that the legislation does not pass, or does not cover the amount of tax credits for which we would qualify,” the letter says. “I am sure you can understand that we would not be responsible financiers and a successful production company if we did not have viable options available.”

jag March 20, 2014 at 01:27 PM
Mark, the article has an embedded link to the info you're looking for re: number of employees/names of the businesses benefited. http://www.choosemaryland.org/aboutdbed/Documents/ProgramReports/2013/FilmProductionActivityTaxCreditReport2013-Final.pdf
MG42 March 20, 2014 at 03:49 PM
Let them film elsewhere. I could care less and would rather not have it cost me money.
Kolo Jezdec March 20, 2014 at 06:54 PM
Notice no tax breaks were offered to Beretta when they decided to move their new manufacturing plant to another state...
sandy bannister March 20, 2014 at 11:18 PM
They're already getting $40 million over 3 years in tax credits and are now demanding an additional $22 million. Tell they to take their cameras and roll..on. DC gives them nothing.
John March 21, 2014 at 10:23 PM
Said it before and I'll say it again, "Bye-bye! Tell us where to send Kevin's mail." Blackmail is an ugly thing no matter who is doing it. Send 'em packing. I doubt anyone will really miss them....

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