Representatives for a top state lawmaker and Governor Martin
O'Malley confirmed on Friday that Media Rights Capital had
informed them that it was halting production plans until the
dispute is resolved.
In a letter that echoes the wrangling seen in the Emmy
Award-winning series, the Beverly Hills, California-based
company urged the state to pass a law increasing tax credits
available for film and television production there.
"In the event sufficient incentives do not become available, we
will have to break down our stage, sets and offices and set up
in another state," the company wrote in the undated letters,
which officials received in late January.
The Washington Post published the letters earlier on Friday.
A Media Rights Capital representative confirmed the letters but
said the company had no other comment. In the letters,
production officials did not specify the amount of tax credits
they were seeking.
The second season of "House of Cards," which has a particular
following in the U.S. capital, was released on February 14.
Starring Kevin Spacey as underhanded Washington politician
Francis Underwood and Robin Wright as his cool-as-ice wife, the
series has dramatized the uglier side of the U.S. government.
Media Rights Capital had been planning to start taping the next
season this spring but put that on hold until June "to ensure
there has been a positive outcome of the legislation," it wrote.
Two pending bills would increase tax credits for film and
television production, but state lawmakers have not agreed to
continue them at current levels.
Maryland already agreed to provide $25 million overall in such
tax credits this year, according to the Washington Post, adding
that "House of Cards" got $11 million in credits for its first
season and could get $15 million back for its second one.
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According to the Post, state officials said the show had added $250
million to the local economy and want to offer the production
company $15 million in breaks again.
O'Malley's spokeswoman, Nina Smith, said the governor's office was
aware of the letter. While film tax credits are important, the state
is also interesting in investing in other areas such as
biotechnology, aerospace and manufacturing, she said.
"We remain hopeful that we can reach a positive
resolution," she added.
Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch, who also received the letter,
"is focused on maintaining a competitive film program while being
sensitive to the constraints of the state's budget," said his
spokeswoman, Alexandra Hughes.
Backers of such production tax credits say they help create jobs and
boost the local economy. For Maryland, they have helped attract
production companies to historic Baltimore and other locales to tape
numerous movies and shows, including HBO's "Veep."
But some critics challenge the fiscal responsibility of giving away
"We're almost being held for ransom," state Delegate Mark Fisher, a
Republican from Calvert County, told the Washington Post.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey; editing by
Lisa Von Ahn)
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