Downtown Bel Air gets its first close-up in 'House of Cards'

What's Doug Stamper doing in Bel Air?

The sidewalk was packed with people hoping to catch a glimpse of a Hollywood star in downtown Bel Air Friday night as a section of South Main Street was given over for the shooting of scenes for the Netflix series "House of Cards."

Of course, the buzz was would either of the political intrigue drama's stars, Kevin Spacey or Robin Wright, be involved.

Neither Spacey nor Wright was seen during the early part of the shoot, but series regular Michael Kelly, who plays Doug Stamper, chief of staff for Spacey's character, President Frank Underwood, was on hand.

Kelly, who has been nominated for an Emmy twice for his role in the series, and his castmates performed in a street scene, getting in and out of a car parked outside Bel Air's One Eleven Main restaurant. The restaurant was part of the background, along with the Full Heart Soul-utions shop next door.

South Main Street between Churchville Road and Courtland Street was closed off at 7:30 p.m. and it was not scheduled to reopen until 12:15 a.m. Saturday.

Crew members began arriving late Friday morning to prepare for the night-time shoot, and equipment trucks were parked at several locations nearby. Parking arrangements had been made for the crew and cast extras in a county-owned parking lot behind the filming location.

Bel Air Police vehicles, along with metal gates, blocked South Main at Churchville Road and Courtland Street as a throng of crew members worked. Town police officers were also within the barricades, interacting with crew members, and Police Chief Charles Moore could be seen coordinating security with production staff.

Spectators watched the action and snapped photos with their cell phones.

Crew members asked people not to use their flashes and to be silent when the cameras were rolling. By 9:30 p.m., more than 50 people were still scattered around the Courtland Street end of the barricades, most taking cell phone videos.

Activity continued as normal outside the barricades, as people visited downtown restaurants, including the new Black Eyed Suzie's, which had its grand opening Friday.

The restaurant is in the former Main Street Oyster House at 119 S. Main St, a few doors down from where the "House of Cards" crew was working, was packed with patrons, many who also checked out the filming activity as they left.

The Nashville based band Forlorn Strangers, fronted by two Bel Air High grads, sisters Hannah and Abigail Dempsey, performed two blocks north at the Bel Air Armory to an appreciative crowd of almost 300 people.

The fifth season of "House of Cards" is in production, and it is scheduled to air in early 2017.

Production of the series has been based in Harford County since the beginning, with many indoor scenes being shot at sound stages in Joppa.

Liriodendron mansion and a nearby house in west Bel Air were used in Season 2 scenes shot in August 2013. Other locations in county have included Havre de Grace, Aberdeen, Level, Edgewood, Churchville and Harford Community College.

Although Friday night was the first time show scenes were shot in downtown Bel Air, the armory has been used to recruit extra actors for the show through casting calls held in each of the past four years.

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