Atlanta has become a popular place to shoot movies, especially since Georgia began offering sweetened tax incentives in 2008: “The Blind Side,” “Zombieland” and the upcoming Robert Duvall vehicle “Get Low,” to name a few.
But TV has been blossoming, too, providing steady work for the likes of caterers, grips and makeup artists. Over the past two years, the number of television shows shooting here has skyrocketed.
For instance, BET now tapes more than 150 episodes a year of “The Mo’Nique Show” at Turner Studios. The CW’s hit drama “The Vampire Diaries” began production two weeks ago in Decatur and parts around town for its second season. And Lifetime’s dramedy “Drop Dead Diva” is now a staple in Peachtree City.
“I never imagined the growth to happen this quickly,” said Ric Reitz, a local actor who helped design the tax incentive package. “It’s unprecedented in our state’s history.”
Some shows have been here for years even before the incentives kicked in. Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” has been feeding Food Network fans his quirky brand of food science from his Atlanta studios for more than a decade. The animation team at Adult Swim in Midtown has been twisting college kids’ minds with “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”since 2000. Over four years, Tyler Perry has pumped out a whopping 184 episodes of his sitcom “House of Payne” from his Southwest Atlanta studio mega-complex, spawning “Meet the Browns” two years later.
In recent years, BET has been especially aggressive in Atlanta, where the heavily African-American population provides both an audience and subject matter for the network. Besides taping “Mo’Nique,” BET annually hosts its hip hop and Soul Train awards shows here and has a new scripted comedy in the works “Let’s Stay Together.”
But it’s best known for its locally-shot reality shows, from “Frankie & Neffe” to “Monica: Still Standing” to “Tiny & Toya.” Sister station VH1 earlier this year followed with “What Chilli Wants,” featuring TLC singer Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas.
There are even two shows with “Atlanta” in their names. One has been impossible to avoid: the popular but popularly reviled “Real Housewives of Atlanta” on Bravo, which is wrapping up its third season of production.
TLC’s classier “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta” debuted this past Friday, featuring local high-end wedding gown shop Bridals by Lori.
Other new shows this fall: HLN host Nancy Grace has a new syndicated judge show “Swift Justice,” which will be seen on Fox 5 Atlanta (She will do double duty, staying with HLN as well). Discovery is taping “Bidder Rivals” out of Buckhead’s Gallery 63 auction and antique consignment shop. And fans of zombies will slobber over “Walking Dead,” a new AMC series which shot all over the city earlier this summer.
And folks who love James Bond spoofs should be relieved to know that FX’s “Archer,” shot locally at Radical Axis in Atlanta, will be back next year for a second season.