Friday, July 26, 2013
Reality TV is coming to Murrells Inlet, but not everyone is standing with open arms to welcome it.
The Burbank, Calif., production company that put “Jersey Shore” on the map, 495 Productions, has a contract with CMT for eight episodes of a television show focusing on eight people spending a summer at the beach.
News of the project spread when a location representative offered contracts to businesses in the Inlet for allowing filming in their locations.
The contracts included a nondisclosure clause, so once the pact was signed, the businesses were prohibited from discussing particulars.
The production is expected to bring some income to county businesses and the county itself in the form of taxes and additional business. For instance, Inlet Affairs has put in a bid to provide catering to cast and crew.
“Anytime you can gain publicity for an area, it’s a good thing,” said Al Hitchcock, a co-owner of Drunken Jacks and Inlet Affairs.
But Willie Lee, the owner of Lee’s Inlet Apothecary, expressed some reservations.
“As a community, we need to be careful that we don’t give rights away. We’ve worked hard to develop an image of our community, and to give a film crew control over that image might not be in our best interest,” he said.
Georgetown County was initially contacted by a representative of the production company about two months ago, said Boyd Johnson, planning and zoning director.
“They wanted to know about ordinances for filming and the rules we had,” Johnson said.
Things were quiet until about a month ago when a second representative contacted the county and nailed down some particulars.
“My sense is that most of the filming will be done inside the house,” Johnson said, “and we really would not have any control over that.”
The cast is expected to reside at Kings Krest, a four-bedroom two-bath house on the marsh that rents for roughly $2,500 a week. The house sleeps 11. Other houses will hold the crew and production staff.
“We were told that much of the filming will be done in the house and in businesses with handheld cameras. We have no problem with that. However, we do have rules about closing the roads or blocking access to county property,” Johnson said.
Jerry Oakley, Georgetown County Council vice chairman, who represents Murrells Inlet on the council, sent an e-mail to Marsh Walk restaurants and other businesses informing them of the project.
“There is no overall permit required from the county for motion picture production activity, although specific permits might be required for some things, such as temp buildings, electrical installations, etc. The producer has been working cooperatively with County Planning and Code Enforcement. No issues or problems are expected. The producer expressed interest in some Marsh Walk scenes and, if that materializes, will coordinate will Beth [Goodale] at Parks and Rec.,” Oakley wrote.
The production company is keeping details of the project private, referring questions to its public relations firm, AKR Public Relations.
Samantha Goldstein deferred answering questions about the show, writing that “Unfortunately, since this show is in a very early stage we are unable to comment on the below, we hope to have some more information shortly and will come back to you.”
She would not reveal the concept of the show, why the company chose Murrells Inlet, how many cast members are involved, or when production would start. Nor would she provide information on the production company.
But its website lists reality shows such as “The Real,” on Fox, HGTV’s “$250,000 Challenge” and “Repo Games.” A show titled “The Dirty South” is listed as “Coming Soon” to CMT, but the link is blank.
The production company did not seek incentives from the S.C. Film Commission, nor did it contact either Georgetown or Horry counties’ tourism officials.
Murrells Inlet 2020 officials first heard of the production when Sue Sledz, executive director, was contacted the week of July 8 with questions by the producers and on-site scouting staff. Sledz added that Murrells Inlet 2020 would not have sought out such a production as part of the organization’s tourism promotion strategy and that the Murrells Inlet 2020 board of directors has not endorsed the initiative.
In a statement Sledz wrote: “MI2020’s mission is to preserve our salt marsh, advance infrastructure improvements and support community revitalization efforts through the growth of tourism.
We strive to make Murrells Inlet a nice place to live, work and visit. MI2020 has championed infrastructure projects like the Marsh Walk and the new Jetty View Walk and the acquisition of Morse Park Landing to give our visitors and residents public access to the beauty of our salt marsh.
To support the growth of tourism, MI2020 works to market the Inlet through our website and our rack brochures.
And we field hundreds of visitors’ inquiries annually. Our organization gives careful consideration to how we brand the Inlet.”
By Anita Crone
For The Times
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