Julia Louis-Dreyfus compares Columbia, Md to a “prison”

Seinfeld's former Photo: Julia Louis-Dreyfus with Vice President Biden (White House Photographer)

WASHINGTON, December 16, 2013 — Julia Louis-Dreyfus is backpedalling over comments she made in the Vulture magazine, where she compared Maryland to a prison. The relevant section is as follows:

“Columbia, Maryland, is neither here nor there, which is to say that it’s somewhere between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. As far as I can tell, it’s home to one of the dreariest American landscapes imaginable: office parks, chain malls, and a cluster of Northeast-corridor warehouses for Sears and the like. That it is also now home to the production back lots for highbrow East Coast television does nothing to ameliorate this aspect.

“Thank God the work’s good,” says Louis-Dreyfus, dressed in Selina’s ­chocolate-brown trench and stilettos. “Can you imagine if it wasn’t? It would be like a prison.”

The town mentioned in the article, Columbia, is ranked the second best place to live in the United States, according to CNN’s Money Magazine. The ranking came in 2010, and Columbia has consistently stayed in top ranks for each annual issue since then.

Forbes Magazine lists the Howard County (where Columbia is located) as the fifth richest county in America, saying “A fast-growing county situated between Washington and Baltimore, Howard County’s excellent school system attracts wealthy residents.”

The county website lists other accolades:

  • Howard County Government has been ranked in the Top 10 in the nation when it comes to embracing technology to improve service to residents and spur innovation.
  • Howard County was designated one the latest Preserve America Communities by the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP).
  • The Howard County Library System (HCLS) was named the 2013 Library of the Year by the Library Journal and Gale Cengage Learning.
  • Howard County Government was recognized as one of the Best Workplaces for Commuters by the National Center for Transit Research for its commuter and environmental friendly policies.
  • Ellicott City in Howard County ranked 17th place in Newsmax Magazine’s annual list of “Top 25 Cities with the “Best American Values.”
  • Ellicott City was voted one of the top ten places in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of “Best Places to Live for Pet Lovers.”
  • Howard County was ranked 17th in the nation by Forbes Magazine in their survey of “Best Places to Raise a Family.”
  • Howard County Government were awarded the Public Leadership in the Arts honor for leadership and dedication to supporting the arts in the community by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America, in conjunction with the National Association of Counties (NACo).
  • USA Today said “Howard County was ranked the 2nd most technologically advanced community in the United States.”
  • The Census Bureau said the county had the Best Educated (Adults over 25) citing the county as 2nd in the nation for “Advanced Degrees” and 4th for “Bachelor’s Degrees.”

The actress, famously known for her role as “Elaine” on the hit sitcom “Seinfeld” attempted to re-interpret her remarks via Twitter:

@OfficialJLD: Just want 2 clarify.I love Maryland.Our crew is fab.The prison joke was a joke re: the warehouse.Truly sorry if anyone was offended.

The context of the original remarks cast doubt on the attempt to explain away the controversy. The actress was in town to film for the HBO series Veep, where Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Vice President Selina Meyer, a powerless former Senator from Maryland.

In response to the issue, Huffington Post is reporting “Dreyfus’ comment and the response video from [Howard County Executive] Ulman started a Twitter campaign #AwesomeColumbia, where residents can tweet reasons why Columbia is better than a jail sentence.”

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Rahat Husain

Rahat Husain has been working as a columnist since 2013 when he joined the Communities. With an interest in America and Islam, Rahat is a prolific writer on contemporary and international issues.


In addition to writing for the Communities, Rahat Husain is an Attorney based in the Washington DC Metropolitan area. He is the Director of Legal and Policy Affairs at UMAA Advocacy. For the past six years, Mr. Husain has worked with Congressmen, Senators, federal agencies, think tanks, NGOs, policy institutes, and academic experts to advocate on behalf of Shia Muslim issues, both political and humanitarian. UMAA hosts one of the largest gatherings of Shia Ithna Asheri Muslims in North America at its annual convention.


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