Variety Looks at Baltimore as Stand-In for DC

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Photo via Variety
Photo via Variety

The media interpretation of Baltimore hasn’t always been flattering (or accurate). This Variety article, irritatingly titled House of Cards:  Spicy Locales at Lo-Cal Costs helps illustrate some of the ways in which Hollywood gets our fair city wrong.

While Variety describes DC as “glossy and rich,” the bulk of the article discusses House of Cards location manager Patrick Burn, and his work finding appropriate “local crack houses, alleys and run-down neighborhoods” for season 3 of The Wire. (Fun detail:  once the producers found a sleazy locale with a look they liked, they’d have someone come in and clear out all the garbage and syringes. Then the props department would come in and put in their own officially-sanctioned garbage and drug paraphernalia, so the set looked suitably run-down.)

The whole point of the article is that Burn managed to create “our own D.C. in Baltimore” for House of Cards. But instead of exploring how Burn manages to recreate well-known landmarks and fancy Georgetown neighborhoods using Baltimore as a base, the article mostly talks about Freddy’s, the low-rent (but delicious) barbecue joint that features on the show. (It’s not a real restaurant; the show rents out a storefront to stand in for Freddy’s.)

While Baltimore does indeed have the kind of garbage-strewn alleys and faded storefronts that might cause a certain kind of location scout to swoon, we also have gorgeous university buildings, lovely rowhouses, and plenty of other kinds of backdrops suitable for any number of dramatic scenes. But, once again, it seems that all anyone wants to talk about are the crack houses.



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  1. Hubby and I enjoy spotting familiar Baltimore locales in “House of Cards.” Most of them are quite beautiful — War Memorial Plaza, Baltimore Museum of Art, Furness House (one of the most exquisite buildings in Baltimore), Mt. Vernon, Druid Hill Park, etc.

    Regardless of the stereotypes people may harbor about Charm City, “The Wire” remains one of the most brilliant dramatic series in the history of television.

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