Thursday night, dual realities collide on the Grand Strand.
TLC’s “Trailer Park: Welcome to Myrtle Manor,” kicks off a second season at 10 p.m. Thursday. Cast members will be on hand at the Boathouse in Myrtle Beach for a season premiere party and screening, starting at 8 p.m. and hosted by Tommy Collins and Abbi Neal-Ingalls of WAVE 104.1’s “T&A Morning Show.” The morning show pair will also appear on the TLC series this season.
Not to be outdone, CMT’s “Party Down South,” which was shot mainly in Murrells Inlet, makes its debut at the same time, 10 p.m. Thursday, on CMT, and is put together by 495 Productions, the producers of “Jersey Shore.” Imagine all of the debauchery and drama from the latter, replace the Jersey-speak with a judicious “hey y’all, watch this,” and you pretty much get the idea.
“Party Down South,” which was shot in Murrells Inlet and other areas in Georgetown County last summer, has elicited a spectrum of responses from curiosity and shrugs to outright anger from the community. And the epicenter for controversy was King’s Krest, a historic property on the MarshWalk which served as de-facto party house for the cast of eight young people and a filming site. The fact that this is an otherwise sedate residential area is at the heart of the brouhaha.
Georgetown County Council Vice Chair Jerry Oakley says that the primary opposition had to do with production activities in a residential zone. “Understandably, neighbors complained that the noise, bright lights and filming at night were intrusive and objectionable in a residential neighborhood,” he says.
“The cast, crew and producers of that show made few friends in Murrells Inlet,” says Buz Martin, whose family has lived in Murrells Inlet since the 1970s. “Even some venue owners who had agreed to let them film in their places ended up kicking them out. They were having many customer complaints and walkouts due to the loutish, lewd and drunken behavior of that bunch, even after filming had ended.”
Martin adds that some businesses outside of the MarshWalk signed waivers so that scenes could be shot in their stores. “Two of them told me that the show had been represented to them by the production crew as a documentary,” he says. “Not only that, but as is well-known now, they pissed off the neighbors around King’s Crest in a big way. The partying continued even when they were not filming, and late into the night.”
One of these neighbors, Beth Stedman, lives three houses down from King’s Krest, says she has many takeaways from her exposure to the filming process in her neighborhood, but intimated that they may not be fit to print.
She did, however, comment on the gawkers. “There certainly were more boaters turning around in front of the neighboring houses and heading back by to see if they could catch some of the action, as well as people using the Belin [United Methodist] Church parking lot as a vantage point,” she says. “On numerous occasions, passing boaters yelled obscenities at the cast and crew who would then scream back. This certainly created a great deal of commotion in what is normally a pretty quiet, family-oriented neighborhood.”
Al Hitchcock, co-owner of Drunken Jack’s and Inlet Affairs Catering, says that he was beaten up by some in the community for taking on the catering job for the cast and crew. “We weren’t associated with the show or promoting the show. We were doing business as a catering company,” he says. Indeed, Inlet Affairs provided more than 30 meals three times a day for a month at various locations and as far away as Andrews. “I had six people working for 30 days straight,” he says. “They [495 Productions] created a job and kept my people busy.”
He says he doesn’t appreciate what some in the community have been saying about him. “Some people thought that if I hadn’t have been feeding them, they would have left town. That’s totally untrue. They would have been standing in line over at Chick-fil-A.”
Filming aside, Hitchcock left us with this: “Young people move in for the summer, whether they are staying at Granddaddy’s house or renting one – they are down here to have a good time. And they have a party about every night.”
Stedman speculates that even if the show is a hit, the cast members most likely will likely fade into obscurity in a few years and the producers will move on to their next project. “On a sad note, the damaged friendships and relationships among our neighbors, members of the community and the bruised hearts may take much longer to heal – and that’s truly a shame. On a positive note, the community rallied and as a result, Georgetown County has enacted regulations that hopefully will protect our neighborhoods.”
Oakley, says, the “county has adopted an ordinance controlling time, place and manner of film production activities. Film production would not now be allowed at the site which was used last year. If the producers of ‘Party Down South’ wish to return to Georgetown County to film, they would be required to comply with all the requirements of the new ordinance, which among other things now requires a permit. I believe most folks understand that government cannot control content of a TV show, or a newspaper for that matter. Government can control the activities associated with filming, such as time, place and manner, and the newly adopted Georgetown County ordinance now does that.”