Annapolis, Pa.

August 06, 2004

DISNEY won't be filming Annapolis in Annapolis, but will shoot the movie this fall in Philadelphia instead. Such civic misrepresentation isn't unusual -- Hollywood loves to save money on location costs. But it turns out Philly wasn't the studio's first choice. It was the Navy that sank Annapolis. It wouldn't permit filming at the Naval Academy. Why? Apparently because the movie's script has a plebe punching an officer.

Huh? The Navy thought some actor's fist might give it a black eye? Forget the fact that the film is supposed to be about a blue-collar kid who boxes. What's the Navy thinking? Compared with the various academy scandals over the years, a plebe striking an officer hardly registers. Does a Mid get handcuffed and tormented? Sexually assaulted? Involved in a murder? Steal tests? Those are the academy's real-life woes.

The Navy has the right to refuse Hollywood -- even if its decision is a big economic loss for Maryland. The military figured out long ago that it can exchange its help for more favorable portrayal in a script. But what peculiar reasoning.

Maryland has been a popular locale for film and television in recent years. But imagine if officials here had been as short-sighted as the Navy. Sorry, no Tin Men; it offends the home improvement industry. Diner? The Colts trivia isn't tough enough. You can forget any John Waters movies for obvious reasons. Then there's Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, TV shows that portray Baltimore as plagued by murder and drugs. Shocking.

But here's the funny thing: The city has benefited from them all. Not just because of the money spent here, but because Baltimore has a little bigger place in the popular culture. Hey, the movie is going to be made anyway. Ultimately, the Navy might reap some benefit, too. It's just the real Annapolis and the local economy that lose out.

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