2021 year in review in Atlanta TV, film, radio: Jovita Moore, Monica Pearson, Ryan Cameron, Gray TV

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TV and film were back in full production and original product flowed into movie theaters and onto your various devices.

After what will be known as pandemic 2020, this past year could be known as pandemic fatigue 2021. The good news is TV and film were back in full production and original product flowed into movie theaters and onto your various devices.

Theaters, though, found it hard to draw older people, generating no shortage of bombs, from “Dear Evan Hansen” to “West Side Story.” The few big hits were mostly in the sci-fi, superhero and horror genres that draw younger, male audiences. HBO Max didn’t help matters by simultaneously releasing all its films on its streaming service and theaters.

On-demand streaming of TV, films, podcasts and music continued to make “appointment” anything increasingly less common. There were exceptions like breaking news, live sporting events and awards shows, though awards shows in this increasingly splintered pop culture landscape became even less popular across the board.

Local TV news and radio struggled to stay relevant while film and TV production crews in the state grew increasingly stressed by the pressures to churn out more product in less time. Georgia, in its 14th year with its film and TV tax credits, broke its own records in terms of production in 2021 with no signs of a slow down into 2022. In fact, a raft of new soundstages were announced in 2021 in Georgia that will make the state even more of a powerhouse in coming years if demand for content remains as robust as it has been.

LOCAL TV

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Channel 2's Jovita Moore laid to rest

Channel 2's Jovita Moore laid to rest

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Channel 2's Jovita Moore laid to rest

Jovita Moore’s unexpected death: Channel 2 Action News’ beloved evening anchor Jovita Moore died of an aggressive brain cancer in October. She was 54. Moore had surgery in April to remove two brain tumors after experiencing what she said at the time was “brain fog.” Doctors discovered she also had glioblastoma, an aggressive, incurable form of brain cancer. She was treated with radiation and chemotherapy. Moore told viewers the news on WSB-TV in July.

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Hilton Howell, the CEO of Gray Television, talks about his recent moves in real estate and TV ownership. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Hilton Howell, the CEO of Gray Television, talks about his recent moves in real estate and TV ownership. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

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Hilton Howell, the CEO of Gray Television, talks about his recent moves in real estate and TV ownership. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Atlanta-based Gray Television expansion: Gray has been based in Atlanta for decades but was simply known as the owner of smaller TV stations in markets like Albany and Augusta. But that all changed when Gray purchased Meredith’s TV stations for $2.85 billion, including Atlanta-based CBS46 and Peachtree TV. The deal closed Dec. 1. Gray also purchased most of the land at the old General Motors plant in Doraville with ambitious plans to build soundstages, apartments, townhomes, a hotel, corporate offices, restaurants and retail space.

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Former WSB-TV anchor and media personality Monica Pearson will co-host the ceremony. Contributed

Credit: Picasa

Former WSB-TV anchor and media personality Monica Pearson will co-host the ceremony. Contributed

Credit: Picasa

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Former WSB-TV anchor and media personality Monica Pearson will co-host the ceremony. Contributed

Credit: Picasa

Credit: Picasa

Monica Pearson’s unexpected move:: Retired iconic anchor Monica Pearson surprised Atlanta news observers by announcing her return to the airwaves ― but not at her long-time home WSB-TV, where she worked from 1975 to 2012. Instead, she plans to revive her “Closeups” interview show (under a different name) on Peachtree TV, now owned by Gray. She also wants to bring back a version of her Georgia Public Broadcasting chat show “A Seat at the Table.”

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Newsy expands its network, adding new production facilities, control rooms and locations for studio filming with new news anchors and offices in Buckhead on Thursday, Sept 30, 2021. Eric Ludgood, is the recently-named head of Newsy, left, and Kate O’Brian, right, is head of The News Group for the Scripps Networks, leading both Newsy and Court TV. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constition)

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Newsy expands its network, adding new production facilities, control rooms and locations for studio filming with new news anchors and offices in Buckhead on Thursday, Sept 30, 2021.  Eric Ludgood, is the recently-named head of Newsy, left, and Kate O’Brian, right, is head of The News Group for the Scripps Networks, leading both Newsy and Court TV.  (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constition)

Credit: Jenni Girtman

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Newsy expands its network, adding new production facilities, control rooms and locations for studio filming with new news anchors and offices in Buckhead on Thursday, Sept 30, 2021. Eric Ludgood, is the recently-named head of Newsy, left, and Kate O’Brian, right, is head of The News Group for the Scripps Networks, leading both Newsy and Court TV. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constition)

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Arrival of Newsy: Scripps, hoping to offer a TV news option for cord cutters, debuted a version of Newsy in October out of their Buckhead offices that features all news, all the time, in a way that is more like the original CNN: straight news, no spin. It’s available to anybody with a free TV antenna as well as online and on its app at no cost. While widely available, the question for Newsy becomes: is there any actual demand for it?

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Westminster Schools grad and Atlanta native Brooke Baldwin bids farewell on CNN Friday, April 16, 2021. CNN

Credit: CNN

Westminster Schools grad and Atlanta native Brooke Baldwin bids farewell on CNN Friday, April 16, 2021. CNN

Credit: CNN

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Westminster Schools grad and Atlanta native Brooke Baldwin bids farewell on CNN Friday, April 16, 2021. CNN

Credit: CNN

Credit: CNN

The year in CNN: Larry King, a legendary talk show host who was a bulwark of the CNN prime-time schedule from 1985 to 2010, died in January. The CNN Center was sold in July though CNN itself will remain there for the time being. Atlanta native Brooke Baldwin decided to leave as an afternoon anchor after 13 years. In December, the network’s highest-rated prime-time host Chris Cuomo was fired after emails revealed his involvement with his brother and New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s defense against sexual assault allegations was far greater than CNN management had been told. CNN has also been prepping a streaming subscription service CNN+ for 2022 (recently picking up former Fox News host Chris Wallace as its first big name). though most of the jobs will be out of New York.

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"Don't Look Up," a new film features Tyler Perry as a chipper morning show host. NETFLIX

Credit: NET

"Don't Look Up," a new film features Tyler Perry as a chipper morning show host. NETFLIX

Credit: NET

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"Don't Look Up," a new film features Tyler Perry as a chipper morning show host. NETFLIX

Credit: NET

Credit: NET

The year in Tyler Perry: After a busy 2020 where he was the first man to tape a TV series during the pandemic by confining everyone to his studio and was deemed a billionaire by Forbes magazine, Perry just kept on working in 2021. He voiced a cantankerous truck driver character in “Paw Patrol: The Movie” and played a chipper morning host in the climate change spoof “Don’t Look Up.” He concluded his long-running soap series “The Haves and the Have Nots” for OWN after eight seasons. He pumped out new seasons of BET shows like “The Oval,” “Sistas” and “House of Payne.” He laid down plans for a prequel to his Madea film series for Showtime, a Netflix film “A Madea Homecoming” and a possible second sequel to “Sister Act.”

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Jerome Jurenovich retired from Bally Sports; Nicole Carr left WSB-TV for ProPublica and Matt Pearl of 11Alive joined Scripps. CR: PUBLICITY PHOTOS

Credit: PUBLICITYPHTO

Jerome Jurenovich retired from Bally Sports; Nicole Carr left WSB-TV for ProPublica and Matt Pearl of 11Alive joined Scripps. CR: PUBLICITY PHOTOS

Credit: PUBLICITYPHTO

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Jerome Jurenovich retired from Bally Sports; Nicole Carr left WSB-TV for ProPublica and Matt Pearl of 11Alive joined Scripps. CR: PUBLICITY PHOTOS

Credit: PUBLICITYPHTO

Credit: PUBLICITYPHTO

Local news departures: Key on-air talent who left their jobs in 2021 included traffic reporter and ‘Good Day Atanta” anchor Katie Beasley of Fox 5; meteorologist Samantha Mohr of 11Alive; entertainment reporter Franceska Amiker of 11Alive; reporter Mike Petchenik of WSB-TV; reporter Matt Pearl of 11Alive; investigative reporter Nicole Carr of WSB-TV; and anchor/reporter Ashley Thompson of CBS46. Jerome Jurenovich at Bally Sports, Fox 5 sports anchor Ken Rodriguez and Carol Sbarge at WSB-TV all retired after lengthy careers. Former NFL player DJ Shockley joined “Good Day Atlanta” as a sports anchor. In addition, Don Farmer, the former CNN and WSB-TV anchor and father of Channel 2 Action News anchor Justin Farmer, died at age 82 in March.

TV/FILM PRODUCTION

Another banner year: Georgia continues to thrive as a home to TV and film production, quickly shaking off the pandemic blues. Film and TV generated $4 billion in direct spending for the fiscal year ending June 20, 2021, a record. Based on production traffic since June, the next fiscal year could exceed that number. The state is now a solid third behind California and New York in production and could very well exceed New York soon.

Strike (barely) averted: All the pressure to pump out new content has placed a major burden on crews working overtime and missing meals. As a result, the union representing most crew members hit a roadblock with producers on a new three-year contract in the fall and its members overwhelmingly voted to give the union permission to strike if necessary. The union ended up negotiating a deal with the producers. Union members barely passed it. Georgia union members actually overwhelmingly rejected the contract but enough union members from other parts of the country said yes to prevent a strike.

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Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen in "WandaVision." (Disney+/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen in "WandaVision." (Disney+/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen in "WandaVision." (Disney+/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Disney+ cements itself at Trilith: Disney+ released four TV series this year, all shot in Atlanta and all received well by viewers and critics: “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” “Loki” and “Hawkeye.” More Disney+ shows are to come in 2022.

Set accident: On the set of “America’s Got Talent: Extreme” at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in October, escape artist Jonathan Goodwin severely injured himself after a stunt went awry during rehearsal. It’s unclear if or when NBC will bring back the show to finish production or whether the spin-off of “AGT” will air at all.

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Shazam! (International Trailer 1)

Shazam! (International Trailer 1)

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Shazam! (International Trailer 1)

Sequel-itis: The state has drawn a lot of big-budget sequels over the past decade. This past year was no exception. Among films you’ll be seeing in 2022 or 2023 that spent quality time shooting in metro Atlanta in recent months: “Creed 3,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” “Blank Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Shazam! Fury of the Gods.” “Coming 2 America,” shot in Atlanta, came out over the summer on Amazon to mixed reviews. The well-reviewed “Black Widow” pulled in solid numbers at the box office. Disney’s “Jungle Cruise,” based on the ride, did well in theaters as well. “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” shot in part at Trilith, ended the year with a bang, hitting more than $500 million in domestic box office and $1 billion worldwide.

Bye, bye judge shows: Three syndicated judge shows ended production in Atlanta in 2021: “Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court,” “Couples Court with the Cutlers” and “Personal Injury Court.” But Steve Harvey shot a new ABC primetime show “Judge Steve Harvey” at Trilith Studios in the fall that will debut in early 2022.

Voting law controversy: Every year, it seems the Georgia legislature passes laws that upset Hollywood liberals in some way, whether it’s religious freedom, abortion rights or, this past year, voting restrictions. But despite a few Hollywood types proclaiming they won’t work in Georgia, any negative impact was virtually nonexistent. The demand for soundstages is simply too great for companies like Sony, Disney and Netflix to blink. The only production that publicly pulled out was Will Smith’s historic drama “Emancipation,” an AppleTV+ film about a runaway slave.

“Real Housewives of Atlanta” recap: The popular Bravo reality show concluded season 13 in the spring in flux as two major cast members chose to leave: Porsha Williams and Cynthia Bailey. While Williams shot a spinoff show and released a juicy memoir, the original show is still seeking new cast members to fill their place and Bravo has yet to announce a season 14 release date. NeNe Leakes, an original cast member who left season 12, lost her husband to cancer in September and put her Duluth home up for sale three weeks later.

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Iman Shumpert (left) received kudos from his dance on "Horror Night" on "Dancing with the Stars" that aired Oct. 25.(ABC/Eric McCandless)

Credit: ABC

Iman Shumpert (left) received kudos from his dance on "Horror Night" on "Dancing with the Stars" that aired Oct. 25.(ABC/Eric McCandless)

Credit: ABC

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Iman Shumpert (left) received kudos from his dance on "Horror Night" on "Dancing with the Stars" that aired Oct. 25.(ABC/Eric McCandless)

Credit: ABC

Credit: ABC

Local Atlanta reality show notables: Former NBA and Georgia Tech basketball player and Atlanta reality star Iman Shumpert won “Dancing With the Stars.” (Kenya Moore of “Housewives” came in 10th.) Newnan brothers Steven and Mark Erickson won Fox’s second season of “Lego Masters,” which also happened to be shot in metro Atlanta. Atlanta’s Willie Spence finished runner-up on “American Idol.” Cumming graphic designer Rachael Kirkconnell won the heart of Matt James on “The Bachelor.” And Atlanta pet trainer Alejandor Valdivia made it to the semifinals of Fox’s “Masterchef Legends.”

LOCAL RADIO/PODCASTING

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Big Tigger has two new co-hosts: Tylerchronicles (right) and Christina “Ms. Basketball” Granville (left). ENTERCOM

Credit: Entercom

Big Tigger has two new co-hosts: Tylerchronicles (right) and Christina “Ms. Basketball” Granville (left). ENTERCOM

Credit: Entercom

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Big Tigger has two new co-hosts: Tylerchronicles (right) and Christina “Ms. Basketball” Granville (left). ENTERCOM

Credit: Entercom

Credit: Entercom

V-103 morning shakeup: Big Tigger was joined early in the year by two younger hosts TylerChronicles and Christina “Ms. Basketball” Granville but the chemistry didn’t work and ratings suffered. So in December, V-103 dropped them in favor of two older, well-known Atlanta women to join Tigger in early 2022: actor and comic Ms. Pat and dancer/actor/reality star Shamea Morton. V-103 was once a dominant station in the market, but rivals geared older (Kiss, Majic) and younger (the Beat, Streetz, Hot) have eaten away at their fan base.

Other morning show changes: Jason Bailey and Brandi Britain lost their morning show slots at Rock 100.5. Spencer Graves was dropped from mornings at 94.9/The Bull. Power 96.1 picked up a syndicated morning show called “The Jubal Show.” The Rick and Sasha show ended on OG 97.9 in March. 680/The Fan added ‘Hometeam’ Brandon Leak, Joe Hamilton and Hutson Mason to its morning show. Mz. Shyneka joined Yung Joc on Streetz 94.5.

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Mark Arum recently got married to Maya in Maine. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Mark Arum recently got married to Maya in Maine. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

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Mark Arum recently got married to Maya in Maine. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Credit: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Ripple effects of Rush Limbaugh’s death: The king of talk radio’s passing led WSB to make several changes to its lineup. Erick Erickson moved into Limbaugh’s old time slot and Mark Arum took Erickson’s afternoon slot. Arum then retired from TV traffic to focus exclusively on his radio show. In the late evenings, Shelley Wynter and MalaniKai have been doing a new late-night show after Clark Howard retired his syndicated show.

More radio shifts: Sandra Golden, the only major female sports radio host in town, left 680/The Fan in February after a decade. Kirk Mellish retired after 34 years as meteorologist on WSB. Former Bull morning host Jason Pullman returned as a mid-day host at rival New Country 101.5. Political reporter Johnny Kaufman left WABE, replaced by Rahul Bali. Former Kicks morning host Cadillac Jack returned to FM airwaves on 92.5/The Bear. Former 99Xer Yvonne Monet came back to radio hosting mid-days on Q99.7. WRAS-FM afternoon host Rickey Bevington left for a new job with the Worlds Affair Council of Atlanta.

Fox returns: A new Fox 102.1 station debuted in Atlanta in January that is more focused on music between 1970s and 1990s. The original Fox back during its heyday was more focused on the 1960s and early 1970s when it was catering to Baby Boomers. The new version is clearly geared more to Gen Xers.

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SiMan. CREDIT: Mark Arum

SiMan. CREDIT: Mark Arum

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SiMan. CREDIT: Mark Arum

Cancer hits home: Two radio veterans and cousins were both hit with the same type of pancreatic cancer within weeks of each other. Silas “SiMan Baby” Alexander, who has been on V-103, Kiss 104.1 and Majic 107.5/97.5, received his diagnosis in June but didn’t publicize the news until his 58th birthday in September. His cousin DJ Mitch Master Mix, who worked as a weekend DJ for 20 years at Kiss and was most recently at Classix 102.5, was diagnosed a few weeks earlier and died in December. Former B98.5 evening host Rebecca Stevens also died in April of colon cancer. Ex-CNN correspondent and radio host Mike Brooks also died suddenly at age 66 in June.

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The primary cast of the Bert Show at 5 Church in Midtown on July 17, 2021. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

The primary cast of the Bert Show at 5 Church in Midtown on July 17, 2021. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

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The primary cast of the Bert Show at 5 Church in Midtown on July 17, 2021. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Bert Show celebration: The Bert Show celebrated 20 years on the air with Bert Weiss at the helm. While his entire on-air team has changed, his show has managed to maintain strong ratings in Atlanta on what is now called Q99.7 (but was originally Q100 on a much weaker signal). He has a much younger on-air crew now that enables him, now in his 50s, to keep the show’s younger female audience engaged. Weiss also got engaged in April.

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Hawks public announcer Ryan Cameron looks to bump knuckles with the officials taking the court at the opening of the first round home playoff game against the Nets on Sunday, April 19, 2015, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Hawks public announcer Ryan Cameron looks to bump knuckles with the officials taking the court at the opening of the first round home playoff game against the Nets on Sunday, April 19, 2015, in Atlanta.   Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

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Hawks public announcer Ryan Cameron looks to bump knuckles with the officials taking the court at the opening of the first round home playoff game against the Nets on Sunday, April 19, 2015, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Ryan Cameron loses coveted Hawks hosting gig: Majic host and Atlanta favorite Ryan Cameron redefined what it is to be an in-game host courtesy of his energetic work at the mic over the years with the Atlanta Hawks. But Audacy, the owners of V-103 and 92.9/The Game, which airs the Hawks games, wanted more synergy so it dropped Cameron in favor of Big Tigger, V-103′s morning host. (Cameron used to work at V-103 but left in 2018.)

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