News & Politics

DC Police Canceled "House of Cards" Motorcade Scene

The Metropolitan Police Department issued a reminder that it is not in charge of presidential motorcades. Not even the fake ones.

Getting a film or television show to shoot in DC is enough of a hassle between the numerous government agencies with jurisdiction over local turf and the lack of tax incentives that other cities and states offer. And now there’s another complication to add to the list: DC police mucking up fake presidential motorcades.

Washington Business Journal reports that the producers of the Netflix series House of Cards recently planned to shoot a presidential motorcade (possibly vice-presidential, if the murderous congressman played by Kevin Spacey succeeded in his scheme to take over the No. 2 job) driving around the Mall. But the Aug. 3 shoot was unexpectedly scrubbed when Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier yanked the TV crew’s permits.

And MPD’s explanation to Washington Business Journal is almost as silly as some of the plot threads on House of Cards:

“The Metropolitan Police Department is not the lead agency on presidential motorcades and we did not want to portray ourselves as such,” Gwendolyn Crump, MPD spokeswoman, said in an email. “We are sorry that the ‘House of Cards’ representatives are disappointed.”

Again, the motorcade would have been fake. Instead, House of Cards will retreat to its primary shooting location in Baltimore, and shoot its fake motorcade circling a fake Mall.

But dressing up other locations as Washington is getting easier and easier as film technology progresses. For Olympus Has Fallen, one of two films this year in which terrorists took over the White House, special effects crews built a digital replica of a significant portion of DC. And that was a movie filled with aerial combat sequences; painting in a few static monuments seems a lot simpler.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.