'House of Cards' producer used awkward Obama photo-op for inspiration

Yeas and Nays,Politics,TV,Lucy Westcott

We've all heard the saying: D.C. is Hollywood for ugly people. On Wednesday night, experts from both realms came together to discuss the meeting of two worlds at the Bipartisan Policy Center's Sidecar Conversation Series.

Beau Willimon, producer and developer of "House of Cards," is perfectly placed to dissect the love affair between D.C. and Hollywood. "Hollywood likes D.C. because 19th-century marble looks good on screen, and D.C. likes Hollywood because it's a consistently fruitful ATM for campaigns," Willimon said.

On a day that President Obama called "shameful" for Washington after the Senate rejected his gun control proposal, Willimon remained optimistic about Washington's real-life characters.

"I think people get into politics for the right reasons ... but that doesn't make good drama," he said.

Willimon also revealed his inspiration for Kevin Spacey's roguish Frank Underwood: Lyndon B. Johnson, among others. And the photo Zoe Barnes uses of Underwood glimpsing at her derriere in the show was based on the unfortunately timed shot of Obama turning his head at a young woman during the 2009 G8 summit (former French President Nicolas Sarkozy smirks nearby.)

Willimon has found Washington's reaction to "House of Cards" "encouraging and flattering" and is pleased that the show has "started discussions."

- Contributed by Lucy Westcott

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