House of Cards barred from UN Security Council chamber

MICHAEL IDATO
Last updated 08:19 03/07/2014
Security Council
Reuters

ANOTHER RUSSIAN VETO: House of Cards had the UN's blessing to film in the Security Council chamber. But at the last minute, Russia's diplomat Mikael Agasandyan effectively vetoed the move.

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MASTER MANIPULATOR: Kevin Spacey is his honey-tongued best Frank Underwood in House of Cards.

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The bard himself could not have written the scene better: Frank Underwood, the Machiavellian mastermind of House of Cards, in the United Nations security council chamber and seated at the table where the world's superpowers have debated the fate of nations.

Alas, thanks to the intervention of the Russian government, it is not to be.

The critically acclaimed Netflix drama had asked the United Nations for permission to film in the chamber and, extraordinarily, they had consented with the backing of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who felt it could raise awareness about the organisation.

But just a half-hour before the deadline for objections to be raised, the Russian diplomat Mikael Agasandyan effectively vetoed the move, emailing his colleagues to say the room needed to be kept available for "unanticipated" emergencies.

"Upon thorough reflection, we are objecting to the proposed filming," he wrote. "We consistently insist that the security council premises are not an appropriate place for filming."

The exchange of emails has been published by the US magazine, Foreign Policy.

Other countries, including the UK and the US, had no objections. China also had no issue, so long as the council could review the scripts prior to consenting.

Allowing the show to film would "provide an excellent opportunity to raise awareness among a large audience around the world regarding the world of the security council, and of the organisation in general", British diplomat Michael Tatham wrote to his counterparts on the council.

Tatham said that the United Nations public affairs office had "reviewed the scripts for these episodes and judged them to be appropriate".

China raised concern on that point, noting that the public affairs office could "not represent views of council members".

Russia's veto does not preclude House of Cards filming elsewhere in the United Nations building, or indeed that after more negotiation Russia might be persuaded to relax its position.

Several films have used the building as a setting, the first of which was the 1953 film The Glass Wall.

The 2005 film The Interpreter, which starred Nicole Kidman, also filmed in the building.

In 1959, when Alfred Hitchcock asked to film a murder scene from North by Northwest in the UN building, the organisation famously declined.

There is also a precedent for filming in the security council chamber, Foreign Policy reports.

It has been used for scenes in the French comedy series, Quai D'Orsay, which is set in the diplomatic corps.

It has also been used by photographer Annie Leibovitz to shoot a former US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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