Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Like it or hate it or in between, “Party Down South” put Murrells Inlet on national display Jan. 16, but some locals are questioning exactly what Murrells Inlet was portrayed.
“That’s not the interior of the house,” said Richard Weston, glancing up at the televisions turned to CMT at Uncle Tito’s in Murrells Inlet.
“They repainted the interior, added signs, rearranged the furniture.” Weston’s family owns Kings Krest, the Inlet home that eight cast members of the reality show lived in for about six weeks in July and August. One cast member called it “Disney World for rednecks.”
The cast, none of whom was from South Carolina, was brought together for a summer of partying in the Inlet, or as they suggested, serious drinking. Indications are from the get-go that they altered their behavior, just as the house was altered.
Murrells Inlet had to “win” the location contest, according to Whitney L. Smith, a Surfside Beach real estate agent, who was at Uncle Tito’s for the premiere.
“I never thought they would have picked Murrells Inlet, South Carolina,” she said.
The show’s producers, 495 Productions, also considered three or four places in Florida, including Tallahassee, and Gulf Shores, Ala.
“They called and said they were bringing everybody to South Carolina,” Smith said.
“These aren’t Murrells Inlet people,” said Glenda Saylors, who was at Uncle Tito’s with her husband and two other couples watching the show.
“That’s not what Murrells Inlet is about,” added Angie Burroughs. “I’ve been drunk as ----, but I never acted like that.”
“It’s about as real as 1970s wrestling,” Weston added.
People contributing to the Facebook page “We ‘Just Said NO’ to The Dirty South” were adamantly opposed to the show, but split on what to do about it.
Said poster Teague C. Mathews: “…Looks like Mr. Stedman had a right to complain. You all need to be ashamed of yourselves! I would use the “Party Down South” word of the night but the “f” word isn’t appropriate on facebook.”
Mathews was referring to Warren Stedman, who lives near the house where the filming took place 24/7. Stedman filed a complaint with Georgetown County and asked for a hearing before the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals, contending the filming was disruptive. He lost the appeal, but the county instituted a new film ordinance, which virtually guarantees there will be no return engagement, even if the show becomes a hit.
“They can’t come back,” Weston said. “The county limited filming in an R-10 area to three cameras.”
Other posters suggested that if people objected to the show to just not watch it, while the creator of the Facebook page suggested that people write the advertisers to protest.
At least one local businessman left no doubt about his feelings.
“It was trash,” said Charley Campbell, owner of the Dead Dog Saloon. “It was regrettable that they chose to film here.”
Said Jerry Oakley, the Georgetown County Council member who represents Murrells Inlet: “The hoopla was justified; the neighbors had a right to complain. Government can’t control what they film. They can control the place they film.”
On a personal level, Oakley said the show was not something he could relate to. “I was watching the Ohio State-Minnesota basketball game, and it was getting interesting. I turned to the reality show, watched it until the first break and then went back to the game. I could relate to that.”
Sean Bond, whose pirate ship the Sea Gypsy had a cameo in the TV show said that “It was more like watching MTV Spring Break than a day in the Inlet. We were all surprised that the Sea Gypsy made a cameo; that was a group of wonderful locals onboard for a private charter and had no connection with the show.”
When the cast was not occupying the show’s film crew, the crew did manage to show viewers what Murrells Inlet was about. After a night of heavy drinking and while the show’s cast was asleep, the star of the show made an appearance.
The cameras captured a Murrells Inlet sunrise, with the only noise being the birds.