University of Iowa recently denied a request from "Girls" to film the show there and it has offered an explanation. On Thursday, March 27, the university spokesman Tom Moore said, "While we are pleased that the Iowa Writers' Workshop is receiving national attention and that our graduate is doing well in her career, our general practice is to not allow filming, due to potential disruption to campus."
On Friday, Joe Brennan, the university's vice president of strategic communication, gave a stronger argument, claiming that the storyline would portray the school in a negative way. "After reviewing the script, I felt the storyline placed the city and university in an unfavorable light, and considering the potential for disruption, I made the decision to deny the request," he told the Iowa City Press Citizen.
He added, "I won't share details as I don't think it fair to reveal the plot in advance. I understand this is a popular show, but it's my job to safeguard the reputation of the university."
Josh Schamberger, director of the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, is disappointed with the university's decision. He said, "From a community standpoint, I think it would be tremendous for Iowa City to be featured so prominently on a very, very popular show on HBO."
"My second thought was, 'Gosh, can you imagine the economic impact of having HBO film crews staying in hotel rooms and bringing a greater awareness of Iowa as the best of the best, especially to a younger audience?' You can't buy that sort of exposure."
Andrew Sherburne, co-founder of FilmScene in Iowa City, shared the same opinion, inviting the HBO comedy to film in another location in the city. "High-profile opportunities like this are rare for creatives in Iowa City. There are plenty of talented professionals and students who could benefit from a production like this coming to town, so it's a shame," he said. "Still, there are plenty of locations in Iowa City that would welcome HBO. I encourage them to come anyway."
Nancy Bird, executive director of the Iowa City Downtown District, echoed the sentiment, saying that she's "disappointed to say the least." Bird went on calling it "a real lost opportunity."
Samantha Chang, director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, was surprised to learn that the workshop would be part of the show. She thought that the story could relate to the experience of new students who move from big cities to Iowa City for the workshop.
"Since we're just now recruiting our new students for next fall, I am in the process of talking with a few of them about the issue of leaving New York (or San Francisco, or Seattle) and moving to the Midwest for two years," Chang said. "When I heard that Hannah had been accepted to the program, I experienced a powerful imaginative flash into the head of this new prospective student with relocation issues."
In season 3 finale of "Girls", Lena Dunham's Hannah Horvath got accepted to the Iowa Writers' Workshop. It's unclear whether the show has found an alternative location after its request for filming at University of Iowa was rejected.