- The Washington Times - Friday, August 13, 2004

Leave it to Hollywood to put “Annapolis” in Philadelphia.

The home of the U.S. Naval Academy is the city by the Chesapeake Bay, but the Walt Disney Co. will make a movie about the school in the City of Brotherly Love, Maryland film officials said.

Disney moved production headquarters to Philadelphia three weeks after Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, a Democrat, signed into law a tax incentive that attempts to entice film companies to do business in the state.

Pennsylvania now offers a 20 percent tax credit to feature films and national television shows that do at least 60 percent of their production in the state. The tax applies to most everything from wages to constructions costs to buying costumes.

The move will save Disney $2.5 million to $3 million and will cost Maryland at least $14 million in potential revenue, said Dennis Castleman of the state’s Department of Business and Economic Development’s Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts.

“At the end of the day, Disney is a for-profit business, and they made a business decision,” he said.

The move prompted Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to work on legislation that would match Pennsylvania’s deal, said an Ehrlich administration spokeswoman.

And the Maryland film office is looking at new ways to attract studios, said Jack Gerbes, the office’s director.

Movies filmed in Maryland brought the state more than $70 million in the last fiscal year, Mr. Gerbes said.

Producers began looking beyond Annapolis after the academy objected to the script.

The film is about boxing at the Naval Academy and features a young man from “the wrong side of the tracks” who fulfills his dream of attending the school, according to the Web site imdb.com.

The movie stars James Franco, who plays Peter Parker’s best friend-turned-arch-nemesis Harry Osborn in the “Spiderman” films.

Cmdr. Bob Anderson, a Los Angeles-based liaison between the Navy and Hollywood, said early drafts linked the academy too closely to recent hazing scandals, but added a new draft could return production to Annapolis.

But production assistant Jamie Bucherer said the move was final.

“It’s a done deal,” she said. “We have our offices going and everything. Signed, sealed and delivered.”

Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer, a Democrat, said she is disappointed by the film company’s decision.

“I know that movie people can do a lot of things to make things look real, but Annapolis is a very, very special place with very, very special landmarks,” she said. “Maybe it ought to be called ‘The Philadelphia Story About Annapolis.’”

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