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Wilmington, N.C.: Small city behind big TV shows

As the blogger behind The Wilmywood Daily, I meet new people in social media circles every day who have just discovered that Wilmington, N.C., has a large film industry presence. I mention Dawson’s Creek or One Tree Hill, and their virtual eyes light up. Then I drop the Sleepy Hollow or Under the Dome bomb, and it’s over. I get the OMGs and the AHHHHs. Finally I have to explain that Wilmington — or, as I like to call it, Wilmywood — has been a heavy hitter in the industry since Stephen King’s Firestarter in the mid-1980s. You can imagine that when I mention Iron Man 3, they just pass out. Yes, Marvel was here. This small town is home to some big productions. I guess that is why the stars love it. They can be themselves, let their hair down with the locals and not worry about the paparazzi harassing them. This is definitely not Los Angeles.

Just as L.A. gets its share of TV and movie fans who want to see where the magic happens, so does Wilmington. International tourists still flock to Wilmington because Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill were both filmed here. We’re talkin’ Australia, Japan, England — you name it — they all come. With our new shows entering their sophomore seasons, it’s happening all over again. Wilmington has been transformed into both Sleepy Hollow and Chester’s Mill (Under the Dome), so people are coming in droves to scout those locations or get a glimpse of The Conjuring. Yeah, that was filmed here too.

If your current vacation plans don’t include North Carolina, perhaps I could persuade you to make the trip by serving as your virtual tour guide. After all, they don’t call me Miss Wilmywood for nothin’! Potential visitors always ask me these three questions:

  1. Can I see the sets where they film?
  2. Where do the stars hang out when they are not filming?
  3. How do residents feel about the film industry?  Do they love or loathe it?

Let’s go in that order.

Scene and be seen

Courthouse5There are a TON of places you can go to reminisce over a TV show or movie from the past 30 years, especially downtown. We don’t have skyscrapers; it’s more of a quaint area right on the Cape Fear River. The most recent and obvious spot is the Sleepy Hollow police headquarters (aka the New Hanover County Courthouse, as seen in the photo on the right) on North Third Street. Just about every street in a four-block radius of the late-19th-century building has been on the show. Other locations include Bellevue Cemetery, Brooklyn Arts Center, Greystone Inn and multiple houses in the downtown area. Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie have also set foot in neighboring counties such as Onslow and Pender. And remember that scene in the Under the Dome pilot where the dome came down (think split cow) on Barbie (Mike Vogel) and Joe (Colin Ford)? It was shot on a private farm in neighboring Currie, N.C.

But not every scene is shot on North Carolina streets; some productions prefer to shoot on sound stages at EUE/Screen Gems studios. That’s where Sleepy Hollow films all of its interior police station, secret records room, catacombs and underground tunnel shots. If you want to go back in time, visit their back lot. The entire area, including the woods, is Sleepy Hollow territory.

Under the Dome is similar. The exterior radio station is filmed in Southport, but the interior is on a sound stage at EUE/Screen Gems studios. Other inside shots include the bunker where Junior (Alexander Koch) holds Angie (Britt Robertson) captive (Stage 7) and the Sweetbriar Rose Café (Stage 8), once run by Rose (Beth Broderick). This season they’ve added more sets, but if you want to know the details, I’d tell ya, but then I’d have to … yeah.

Oh, who am I kidding? Don’t wait for me to give you the scoop. You can see for yourself, as EUE/Screen Gems Studios will be hosting tours soon. The exact date is still TBD, but if you want to catch a sneak peek, pop over between May and August. That’s when most of the productions film their scenes. If you can’t make it by then, here’s a little intel: Sleepy Hollow will be filming through December, and my sources tell me they’re shooting 18 episodes this season.

Rub elbows with TV stars

Manna RestaurantWhere do the actors hang when they aren’t filming? In downtown Wilmington, you’ll find them chowing down at one of these restaurants (yes, our stars do eat). If you want to catch a glimpse of Under the Dome executive producer Jack Bender while noshing on salmon rillettes, head to Manna (123 Princess Street). The entire cast of Revolution (season 1), Under the Dome and Sleepy Hollow, as well as cast members and producers of movies such as The Conjuring, Iron Man 3 and Tammy, all have spent many nights at Manna.

Other eateries ripe for celebrity sightings include Circa 1922 (bottom right photo), Catch, Dock Street Oyster Bar, Rx and The Flying Pi. If you prefer your eggs with a side of young Wilmywood, breakfast is a must at The Dixie Grill, or The Basics for a weekend brunch.

Head to Wrightsville Beach if you’re a Colin Ford fan. The Under the Dome cast member admits, “I’m always at the beach or in Mayfaire (Town Center). I love that Wilmington has a Whole Foods, so that’s my favorite grocery. Starbucks every day, all day. And for lunch or dinner, I like going to Bluewater Grill.” (I don’t blame him, as it rests right on the Intracoastal Waterway lines, with spectacular yachts and its namesake blue water.) He, however, is still in search of chicken and waffles.

Colin isn’t the only one who loves Wrightsville Beach. No one throws a better kickoff or wrap party than Cameo 1900 (1900 Eastwood Road). Two other favorites on the same street are Portland Grill and Brasserie du Soleil. Two minutes away is Roko Italian Cuisine in Mayfaire Town Center. They’ve served folks like Tom Mison and Nick Gonzalez of Sleepy Hollow as well as Melissa McCarthy and Dan Aykroyd (Tammy) frequently.

Under the Dome‘s Mackenzie Lintz is a beach girl too: “I can never go a week without eating at Tower 7 in Wrightsville Beach! You can always find me running ‘the loop’ [there].” As for her coffee fix, Mackenzie says that when she heads downtown, “Luna Caffe on Castle Street is a must.” The coffee choice for Shanley Caswell (The Conjuring, CBS’s upcoming show Red Zone) is local too. She prefers Port City Java.

For nightlife, no bar has hosted more stars than the local favorite, The Blue Post (15 South Water Street). Not only has it been a location for so many films, most recently the Melissa McCarthy film Tammy, but if those walls could talk, they would tell tales about the good times of so many production-related parties. Another to note is Satellite Bar and Lounge on Greenfield Street. The Conjuring held its wrap party there; most recently, Ryan Phillippe and Juliette Lewis were spotted at a celebration for ABC’s Secrets & Lies.


Live it, love it

UTD_Circa3 (3)If you live in Wilmington, you’re bound to encounter the film industry. Once a man called my radio show to talk about the time he went to pay his parking ticket in the next town over, Burgaw. That same day, Under the Dome was filming its season finale, where Big Jim is ready to end Barbie’s life with a good old-fashioned hanging — one would think Burgaw takes their parking tickets VERY seriously!

But not everyone crosses paths with fake gallows. My favorite stories stem from when the film industry leaves a location better than when it arrived. When Eastbound & Down prepped to film at a run-down baseball field in Maides Park, they re-sodded the entire field and put in a new pitcher’s mound and baseball diamonds. As it turns out, they never shot that scene, but they kept it how they left it. Likewise, the Safe Haven film crew repainted a woman’s house and fixed her porch before filming a scene.

The most recent story comes from Under the Dome. In season 2, you will be introduced to Lyle (Dwight Yoakam). The producers decided to use a location for “Lyle’s Barbershop,” owned in real life by William Graham, who has been in business for more than 52 years. He simply didn’t have the money for any upgrades — that is, until Under the Dome swooped in. Not only did the production pay him for his location, but it did a soft remodel on his entire shop: new floors, new sinks, repainted walls, refurbished cabinets — the works. He is so grateful, and so is the community.

Well, I hope I’ve convinced you to book a plane ticket to Wilmington! Our town is simply a must-visit destination.  We have gorgeous beaches, a charming lifestyle, quaint and unique shops and, best of all, some really great productions shooting here. For a complete list of what it is in production and what is coming, stop on by The Wilmywood Daily, where you can catch all my reports on the local film scene. If you have any questions, comment below!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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