Spectators tend to injured victims following an early morning explosion in Atlanta's Olympic Centennial Park Saturday, July 27, 1996. The downtown park was crowded with Olympic visitors and revelers at the time of the explosion, which killed a woman and injured more than 100 other people.
Photo: (AP Photo/Tetsuji Asano, ASAHI SHIMBUN)
Photo: (AP Photo/Tetsuji Asano, ASAHI SHIMBUN)

1996 bombing to be re-enacted at Centennial Olympic Park for Clint Eastwood film ‘Richard Jewell’

Originally posted Wednesday, June 26, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Any highlight reel of Centennial Olympic Park would likely omit what happened July 27, 1996 during the 1996 Olympics: Eric Rudolph’s bombing that killed a woman and injured more than 100.

But Clint Eastwood is shooting a film about the man falsely implicated in the bombing, calling it “Richard Jewell.” And he has convinced the park’s overseer Georgia World Congress Center Authority to use the actual location for shooting a re-enactment.

The Georgia World Congress Center released this statement in regards to its thought process behind accepting the shoot on its property:  “As with any film shoot in Centennial Olympic Park, we have done our due diligence to understand the subject matter of the film and its impact to the park. While the backdrop of the film is the park, the focus of the story is on Mr. Jewell.”

A notice was sent to nearby residents on the borders of the park this morning. The filming will eat up nine days and shooting of the bombing itself will happen August 1 and/or 2. 

“In July and August, the north Park will be closed to the public as Warner Brothers re-constructs Centennial Olympic Park of 1996 for a movie they are filming in the Park. Set up starts July 12, filming is set for July 23-26 and July 29 - August 2.

The night of August 1 to morning of August 2 will has a noise permit (midnight Thursday to 2 am Friday). There will be about 800 cast and actors in the area during filming.”

The note does not cite the specific movie but it’s obviously the Warner Brothers film “Richard Jewell,” which stars “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm as an FBI agent, Olivia Wilde as an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter, Kathy Bates as Jewell’s mom and Sam Rockwell as Jewell’s attorney. Relative unknown Paul Walter Hauser will pay Jewell. 

Production has just begun. Based on the casting, it appears the film will focus on the lead up, the bombing itself and the immediate aftermath when Jewell was first deemed a hero, then a false target of suspicion.

During a late-night concert at a packed park during the first week of the Olympics, security guard Jewell noticed the suspicious package and alerted other authorities. But it detonated before the entire area had been cleared. Still, his sharp eyes saved lives. 

<<RELATED: Eric Rudolph’s bombing history

Rudolph later bombed a lesbian bar and two abortion clinics. Once targeted, he became a fugitive for many years before he was found in North Carolina. He is now in a maximum security prison for life. 

The movie is currently seeking extras for another portion of the film. At some point, they will seek extras for the bombing scene. 

In a coincidence, Charter Communications’ Spectrum Cable is currently filming season two of an anthology series “Manhunt” also focused on the Jewell case but it’s shooting in Pittsburgh. That TV show recently filmed a bombing re-enactment as well. 

About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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