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HBO's 'Girls' Director: We Are 'Definitely' Going to Film in Iowa City

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IOWA CITY, Iowa - Even though the University of Iowa rejected a request from HBO to film on campus for its popular series "Girls," media outlets have reported the director still plans to shoot in the Iowa City area.

During a Wednesday screening of comedian Steve Coogan's film "Alan Partridge" in Los Angeles, "Girls" director Jesse Peretz told a reporter with New York magazine's entertainment website that, "We are going to definitely go to Iowa City and we will be shooting some there."

"Even if we can't shoot on campus, we will shoot around campus," Peretz told Katie Van Syckle of, the entertainment destination from the team behind New York magazine.
He told the reporter that most of the scenes don't take place on campus any way, and HBO can "cheat some other campus" for the UI campus. Still, he added, some of the filming will be done in Iowa.

"A little more than a smidge," he said.

Peretz told the reporter that he visited Iowa City at age 20.

"I had memories, but the actual pictures it's not quite as romantic as our Northeast idea of college, and I realized it's actually a big state university," he said. "I think I had a wrong picture in my head because the most that I hear about Iowa is the writers' program."

The director said he wasn't too surprised by the UI's rejection to shoot on campus.

"I grew up in Cambridge, and people wanted to shoot at Harvard, and they almost never let anybody shoot on the Harvard campus," he said. "I think it's probably a protective thing, like they don't want to be complicit in being maligned or something. And then they haven't invited you in to make fun of them."

The UI official who made the call to reject HBO's request told that he was concerned about potential distractions for students and about the plot line, which he said casts the UI in a negative light.

"I reviewed the script and was concerned that the story line didn't place the university and the community in a favorable light," Joseph Brennan, UI vice president for strategic communication, told last month.

Brennan declined to discuss details about the "Girls" plot, out of respect for the show's producers. And, Brennan acknowledged, keeping the film crews off campus probably won't affect the show's plot in any way.

"As we all know in the world of TV and movies," he said, "you can use one location and it can fictionally stand in for another."

The show, which follows a group of young adults living in New York City, turned to Iowa City during its season three finale when main character, Hannah Horvath, got accepted to the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

One of the show's writers, Sarah Heyward, is an alumnus of the UI's MFA in English program, nationally and internationally heralded for producing Pulitzer Prize winners, U.S. Poets Laureate, and National Book Award winners.

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