Tyler Perry thanked firefighters who responded to a fire that damaged a portion of his studio complex in southwest Atlanta Tuesday night, through a publicist-released statement on his behalf Wednesday morning:
“Atlanta firefighters responded immediately to a fire which damaged the backlot façade of one of the buildings at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. We are grateful that there were no injuries, and that 99 percent of the damage is limited to the backlot facade. Mr. Perry wishes to express his heartfelt thanks to the Atlanta fire department for their professionalism in their quick response and limiting the damage.”
Other than that, there’s been no comment from Perry or anyone who works for him. Not on the record, anyway. He was on scene Tuesday night but did not speak to reporters, and employees leaving the area said they had been instructed not to speak to the media.
Security at Tyler Perry Studios is extremely tight. Employees sign confidentiality agreements. When shows filmed there have posted notices for extras, the fine print has stated that only those selected in advance, who show up with legal ID, are admitted onto the property (without cameras or cell phones of course.)
A hefty confidentiality agreement posted with one notice banned extras from discussing their experiences and specifically banned them from speaking to news outlets.
Two people who have worked there as extras spoke to the AJC on condition their identities not be revealed, due to the strict confidentiality rules.
“They make you sign a lot of confidentiality stuff at security,” one past extra said. “If they find you took a photo, you will be kicked out asap. Perry is super strict about that stuff.”
This person described the property as containing numerous buildings.
“The buildings look like a little town but they’re just store fronts,” this person said. “Inside are just different sound stages except the middle which has the kitchen and various offices.”
This extra said not all buildings had been in use recently.
“They’ve been filming “For Better or Worse,” the extra said, referring to one of Perry’s television shows.
A second extra, who also described stringent security, said the property is a showpiece.
“You go to work there and you have to fill out forms and sign a non-disclosure,” the second extra said. The buildings are named in honor of prominent African Americans, this person said.
“Everybody who’s been there is impressed,” the second extra said.
Perry himself detailed the tight security he demands, when he posted a message in early April saying he had been stopped by police officers after making a left-hand turn from the far right lane – a security precaution, he said at the time.
“I signaled to get into the turning lane, then made the turn because I have to be sure I’m not being followed,” Perry said he told the officer. Perry added that he usually is escorted by his own private security forces in an unmarked car, and if not he constantly scans the rearview mirror to ensure he is not being followed.
Perry described the incident as racial profiling in his message, but did not file a formal complaint with the Atlanta Police Department.
“That’s not something we condone in any shape, form or fashion,” Atlanta Police Department spokesman Carlos Campos said at the time. On Wednesday morning Campos said the department did not hear from Perry regarding the matter.
“We reached out to him to afford him the opportunity to provide a statement about the incident to our Office of Professional Standards,” Campos said. “He declined.”
- Jennifer Brett/The Buzzfirstname.lastname@example.org