"I love working in Atlanta," said Michael Jai White, who has appeared in Tyler Perry's movie "Why Did I Get Married?" and its sequel and currently appears on Perry's television show "For Better or Worse." "It's still got real folks. It hasn't gone completely Hollywood."
Not yet, maybe.
We chatted with White for a moment Tuesday night on the red carpet outside the Regal Atlantic Station, where "Think Like a Man," the movie inspired by Steve Harvey's book, was having its Atlanta premiere.
Keshia Knight Pulliam, beloved for her childhood role as Rudy Huxtable on "The Cosby Show," now appears on Perry's television show "House of Payne."
"It's wonderful to be able to live and work in Atlanta," said Pulliam, who also attended the "Think Like a Man" screening. "It's great for the city from an economic standpoint."
Indeed. The Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, which proudly notes that our state is now "one of the top five production destinations in the country," estimates the economic impact of entertainment industry projects at approximately $2.4 billion. To say nothing of the intangible currency of being known as a place attracting prominent projects and talent.
"I love filming here," said Gabrielle Union, who stars in "Think Like a Man" and has worked in Atlanta on projects including the movie "Good Deeds." "In other cities, people are sort of over it. They come out and scream, ‘Get off my lawn!' Here they're more likely to bring you a plate of biscuits. I'd much rather have the biscuits."
At any given time these days, a slew of television and movie projects are busy filming in Atlanta. A.C.O.D., starring Jane Lynch, Amy Poehler, Adam Scott and Jessica Alba took over the restaurant No. 246 in Decatur all last week. After a stint north to the Lake Lanier area this week, we're told it returns to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, where the project already has done some shooting. "Trouble With the Curve," with Amy Adams, Clint Eastwood and Justin Timberlake, is filming at Dunwoody High School after shooting scenes at Turner Field last week. And a new television pilot with Kevin Bacon has been filming all over the place. Bacon, who spent a good bit of time here last year working on the Billy Bob Thornton movie "Jayne Mansfield's Car," popped up at a serendipitously named event put on by Dad's Garage Theatre over the weekend: BaconFest.
The Georgia State Capitol has become a filming site, too. In 2010, a television movie called "The Lost Valentine," starring Betty White and Jennifer Love Hewitt, transformed the Capitol into a train depot. This week, a new television pilot called "Revolution," where a group of people stumble along in a world without energy sources, has turned the stately building into a dystopian wreck. Filming at the Capitol couldn't be more appropriate given that the tax incentives passed by legislators there in 2008 have lured a steady stream of movie and television projects ever since.
“Usually, the Capitol is a place where you hear policy discussed in the abstract, but you can see the tangible effects of tax policy here this week," said Brian Robinson, spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal. "The Capitol is crawling with people who have jobs in our state because of the film tax credit. These days, the workers are often locals because the industry has matured here and we have homegrown businesses. Plus, local Atlanta restaurants are catering for the crews here. It’s a job creator and in this case it’s a direct benefit to the taxpayers because the state is being paid for use of the Capitol – while work goes on as it does normally.”
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