Here comes Reba!

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By Tia Lynn Ivey

managing editor

Country Icon Reba McEntire is coming to Madison later this month to began filming a new ABC one-hour drama.  Part of the pilot will be filmed in downtown Madison with parade scenes filmed on and around Main Street as well as another scene filmed on the steps of the Morgan County Courthouse. Filming will take place from March 23 to March 27, which road closures and detours slated from Sunday, March 26 to Monday, March 27, from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. ABC is pulling from the local community to cast extras and will host an open call to work as paid background actors and stand-ins.  The open call will be held at the Morgan County Library on Friday, March 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and more information can be found at www.centralcasting.com.

McEntire will play a sheriff in a small southern town whose world is turned upside down after a mysterious crime is committed. According to The Hollywood Reporter,  the show has been described by creators as a “Southern Gothic soap opera” that is “set in motion after a horrible, suspected act of terrorism happens at a Fourth of July parade in the small town of Oxblood, Kentucky. The FBI sends a cocky agent of Middle Eastern descent to investigate and he teams up with the mercurial local Sheriff to uncover secrets far darker than either could have ever imagined.” The plot will center around these two “unlikely partners” who form an “uneasy alliance” while encountering other unusual characters who harbor their own secrets throughout the series. The new ABC program was created by Marc Cherry, who was also the creator of ABC’s hit Desperate Housewives.

The serious tone of the new show is a departure for McEntire who previously starred in her own sitcom entitled Reba and another lighter comedy-show called Malibu Country. McEntire will serve as an executive producer on the new television venture. It’s a busy year for McEntire, who also recently released a new gospel album in early February entitled Sing It Now: Songs of Faith and Hope.

The ABC drama is just the latest in a string of filming project to come through Madison and Morgan County, with surely more to come. According to the Madison-Morgan Convention and Visitors Bureau (MMCVB), Madison and Morgan County are prime locations for film projects. The MMCVB released an informational announcement updating the community on film industry prospects after The Georgia Department of Economic Development’s tourism division declared 2017 as the Year of Georgia Film.

“The MMCVB, which serves as the Camera Ready office for Madison and Morgan County, has seen an unusual number of applications for film projects since the beginning of the new-year,” said Ellen Sims, director of the MMCVB.  “There are a few reasons for the surge in filming, including our proximity to Atlanta, new film studios being built closer to Madison, and, most notably, the attractive tax credit offered by the state to any film project with a budget of $500,000 or more.” 

The MMCVB has been a proactive force in securing film project throughout the county.

“Our office is very involved in the scouting process. Filmmakers have communicated to us that the allure of Morgan County is our versatile landscape which offers such a broad range of options,” said MMCVB Project Coordinator Jamison Hooks.

The MMCVB views the surge in film project as an opportunity to boost tourism and economic benefits.

“From a tourism perspective, it’s all about economic impact, and the CVB is working on developing a process to better quantify those economic figures with each film project that comes our way,” said Sims. “They definitely spend money; but of equal importance is that the community understand that each film project is met with thoughtful consideration by both city and county.  We have a lot of meetings with many people asking questions to ensure the impact is minimal to businesses and residents.”

Currently, “St. Agatha” has been filming in Madison since mid-February, due to wrap on March 10. Filming also began for New York Times best-selling book turned movie, “Hollywood Dirt.”   Also coming to Madison, will be a Ryan Seacrest produced series called “Life Sentence” which will star Lucy Hale from Pretty Little Liars.

Past Film Projects in Morgan County:

Greased Lightning (1977)  Richard Prior

The Great Bank Hoax (1978)

Little Darlings (1980) Kristy McNichol, Tatum O’Neal

Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1994) Dianne Lane, Donald Sutherland, Cicely Tyson

I’ll Fly Away (1991-93) Sam Waterston, Regina Taylor

My Cousin Vinny  (1992) Joe Pesci, Marisa, Tomei, Ralph Macchio

In the Heat of the Night (1988-95)  Caroll O’Conner

Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1994)

Poison Ivy (1985) Michael J. Fox, Nancy McKeon

Footloose (the remake) (2011) Jullianne Hough

Halloween II (2009) Rob Zombie

Friday the 13th – Part 6  (1995)

Warm Springs – (2005) Kenneth Branagh, Cynthia Nixon, Jane Alexander

Vampire Diaries (2009-12)

The Originals (2012-14)

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2010)

Quantico (2014)

Selma (2014)  David Oyelowo, Oprah, Carmen Ejogo

The Accountant (2015)  Ben Affleck

Indubious Battle (2015)  James Franco, Selena Gomez, Robert Duvall

Mena (American Made) (2015) Tom Cruise

Hidden Figures (2016) Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae

Guardians of the Galaxy (2017)

St Agatha (2017)  Carolyn Hennessy

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