Baltimoreans tend to pay special heed to their city's image. Even for expatriates like Steve Mosko, it seems to come with the territory.
"I always felt that being located between Washington, New York and Philadelphia that Baltimore had to fight a little bit more than everyone else to get attention," said Mosko, the Bel Air-raised chairman of Sony Pictures Television in Culver City, Calif. "The people that come from Baltimore have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder and fight a little harder."
Count Mosko among those eager to see the city get a fair shake. The John Carroll School graduate — who began his career working in sales for Baltimore television and radio stations — oversees television production and distribution for Sony Pictures Entertainment and said he's often asked about his hometown.
"I have this conversation a lot," he said. "The head of the Sony studios on the motion picture side, Tom Rothman, is from Baltimore and went to Park School, so the head of motion pictures and television are both Baltimore guys."
Among many other shows, Sony Pictures Television produces "The Goldbergs" and "Better Call Saul" and was home to the AMC hit "Breaking Bad." Sony also owns Crackle, the video service that streams Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee." A recent episode of Seinfeld chatting with President Barack Obama in a 1963 Corvette Stingray Split Window Coupe had more than 10 million views in the first few days, Mosko said.
Sony is the international distributor for "House of Cards," the dark political thriller that has filmed in the Baltimore area.
"The beauty of TV is that you can develop characters over 60 to 100 episodes, and that's what makes for great television," Mosko said.
Baltimore's layered image has been created partly by TV crime dramas "The Wire" and "Homicide: Life on the Street," and by media coverage of the protests and rioting following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody last year. Mosko said the global perception of the city also is influenced by "Diner" and "Avalon," the 1982 and 1990 Barry Levinson films set in the writer/director's hometown.
In his world, Mosko believes there is an understanding that the riots were emblematic of larger issues involving police and race.
"If Baltimore was the only city that was dealing with those issues right now, it might be different," Mosko said. "Baltimore just became one part of it."