By Tia Lynn Ivey
Y’allywood has come a-knocking once again. If you see mysterious “1964” signs around town, you have not fallen into a time-warp, but are near the latest film project shooting in Madison.
Another blockbuster film—‘Charming the Hearts of Men’ starring Kelsey Grammar— has set up shop in Madison and Morgan County this week and will be shooting scenes off and on until mid-September.
Grammer, who is best known for his role as Dr. Fraiser Crane on NBC’s hit show Cheers and subsequent spin-off sitcom Fraiser, has been spotted outside of the historic Bennett House on Dixie Avenue for the first round of filming last Monday.
Charming the Hearts of Men, written by Susan DeRose, is set in 1964 during a “politically charged era” and centers around legislation created to empower women.
Filmmakers describe the movie as a “fictional account inspired by true events that altered the world for women in America and deals with the discrimination that both black and white women suffered.”
Grammer plays the role of Southern Congressman Worth, “who meets Grace Gordon, a woman who has returned home due to the sudden death of her father to find herself in a society with little hope and virtually no power without a male provider and the pair embarks on a mission to change society for the better.”
The Bennett House, built in 1835, will serve as the exterior for the plantation setting in Charming the Hearts of Men. The interior shots will take place at the historic Carter-Newton House, built in 1849, on Academy Street in Madison. Throughout August, most of the filming will take place at those two locations. At the very end of August, a few scenes will be shot on the sidewalk outside of the old “Ye Ole Colonial” on the corner of East Washington Street and Main Street. The filming will move to Monroe and Duluth and return to Madison and Morgan County in September.
The film crew plans to transform several businesses on West Jefferson Street between Main Street and North Second Street. According Madison Police Captain Colin Campbell, businesses will be transformed into pawn shops and a diner for the film. Filming will also take place at 100-Acre Farm and across from the old Morgan Memorial building. Finally, film crews will construct a “juke-joint,” described as a “1960s-era establishment” on the pastures east of the Nathan Bennett House on Dixie Highway.
According to city officials, the record for the longest movie shoot in Madison is held by Goosebumps, starring Jack Black, which filmed for six-weeks in the city.
“This is a close second though,” said Campbell. “They will be here off and on for over five weeks.”
Campbell noted that the filming should not cause any road closures, but during peak filming times, there will be some “Intermittent traffic control,” in which cars may be stopped or redirected to accommodate nearby filming.
City Manager David Nunn noted at the last Madison Mayor and City Council meeting that city officials try to balance welcoming the film industry with the quality of life for citizens.
“They are guests in our city, we treat them as guests and we try to accommodate them as much as we can, but we realize our citizens have their lives to live and properties to enjoy,” said Nunn. “We are always mindful… we think about the citizens first. We start there and then see how we can help them.”