"House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey visited Red Red Wine Bar in Annapolis, Md., Friday night, meeting with members of the state General Assembly. That's right - real-life Kevin Spacey playing himself schmoozing with Maryland lawmakers in an effort to extend tax credits for production companies filming in Maryland.
The visit follows a recent Senate vote to increase the amount the state can spend on tax credits rewarding production companies that choose to film in Maryland from $11 million to $18.5 million.
The "House of Cards" production company sent letters to Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, and Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley threatening to film elsewhere if the tax credits were not increased. The show takes place in Washington, D.C., but much of the show is filmed in and around Baltimore.
"It's business. [The production company] is trying to get the most they can get for their company and to make it productive for them to be here and advantageous so I can't say I blame them," said state Senator Nancy Jacobs, R-Cecil/Hartford.
The Washington-insider thriller is arguably one of the most popular political dramas yet, raising concerns among Maryland lawmakers that relocating the show could hurt tourism and economic development in the state.
"It is absolutely essential for us to keep [House of Cards] in Maryland." Delegate John Donoghue, D-Hagerstown, said outside the bar awaiting Spacey's arrival. "I know there are people who are criticizing us but it has a huge impact on the economy in Maryland for them to stay here and film in Annapolis and Baltimore. If we lose them that's not good. Our film industry in Maryland for many years has done terrifically well. We've had many motion pictures filmed here."
Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. also said tax credits should be extended and that "House of Cards," along with other shows, are beneficial to the state.
"The House has got to come together and agree that it's good for Maryland. I personally am a fan of 'House of Cards' and I think it's just a fantastic show. We've seen the value of 'The Wire,' we've seen the value of 'Veep' and it's great economic development for the state and I just hope we can agree to keep it here," Miller said.
The House of Delegates has not yet acted on the bill and remains in session for about two and a half more weeks.