THIS WEEK'S TOP STORIES
Murrells Inlet: Residents call on county to revoke reality show’s permits
By Jason Lesley
Murrells Inlet residents took Georgetown County officials to task this week over developments in their community they find objectionable and harmful to its image.
Weekly fireworks shows over the inlet have put residents on edge over noise, trash and water pollution, and the filming of the television reality show, “Party Down South,” has pushed them over, they told members of County Council Tuesday.
“County staff has burdened us with fireworks trash and a trashy reality show,” inlet resident Bill Hills told council members during a time reserved for public comment. “We cannot clean it up ourselves.”
Residents called for immediate action by council members to revoke permits issued for the film crew’s storage units and equipment at King’s Krest, a large house in a residential district on the marsh. Inlet resident Warren Stedman, who lives within earshot of the reality show’s set at King’s Krest, said the production has upset his family. “It’s everything we thought it was going to be,” he said. “Filthy language can be heard from their place. It is disgusting.”
Stedman asked council members to develop guidelines for professional filming in residential neighborhoods. “This is a commercial activity,” he said. “I don’t see how anybody could see otherwise. They will be back if this show is a success. I need your help. The people of Murrells Inlet need your help. Please, don’t ever let this happen again. We don’t need a bunch of drunken 20-year-olds pretending they are Murrells Inlet people.”
Gary Weinreich, another inlet resident, blamed the county and a few business owners for allowing the reality show to film in his community.
“The county engaged with the crew for two to six months,” Weinreich said. “The production company made arrangements well in advance with key businesses while telling small businesses the show was a documentary. When the county proceeded to issue final approval, no one chose to inform the Stedman family or Belin church.”
Weinreich said he sympathizes with the Stedmans as well as tourists exposed to profanity and horseplay by the reality show cast members on the Marshwalk and in restaurants and bars.
He said it’s unacceptable to make the Stedmans wait until next month’s meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals to object to the permits being issued. “Shame on Georgetown County for charging the Stedman family $500 plus legal fees to appeal this horrendous decision made in secret and trust on our community.
“Each of us lives in fear that this could happen to us next. Secret government is not good government.”
Weinreich presented the council a petition with 280 signatures objecting to the reality show being permitted.
Hills said he considered himself one of the caretakers of Murrells Inlet, a community that had 4,500 hours of volunteer work documented last year. “We clean, mow and walk in the mud to pick up trash,” Hills said. “We talk the talk, and we walk the walk when it comes to supporting our community. We have earned the right to be listened to by county government.”
Hills said life in Murrells Inlet has taken a turn for the worse in the past month.
“The reality show could have been at least delayed while the proper due diligence was done,” Hills said, “not welcomed with open arms. Had there been input sought from the community on these two issues the outcome may have been different. Now the entire sum of the fiascoes are in your lap.
“We’ve been told there’s nothing that can be done about the reality show,” Hills said. “This exposure will bring unwanted attention if we are not diligent. What happens on TV can happen in our front yards.”
Reality television: ‘No conflict, no show,’ actor says
By Jason Lesley
There is nothing real about reality TV, according to actor Bill Oberst, a former Litchfield resident living in Los Angeles.
After being discovered for his portrayals of Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and humorist Lewis Grizzard, Oberst has become known for his role as the creepy “Facebook Stalker” in the online interactive video film “Take This Lollipop,” which uses the Facebook Connect application to bring viewers themselves into the film though use of their own pictures and messages.
Oberst said most cast members on reality TV shows are aspiring actors encouraged to support stereotypes.
Of all the descriptions of the show available on-line, Oberst said he was most offended by the reference to red plastic cups continually filled with booze.
“They are portraying the residents as sex-starved alcoholics,” he said. “That’s TV. The South is really about beauty, grace and people who care about each other. That doesn’t make good TV.”
Oberst is also a former executive of the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce. He once helped create a popular summer performance called “Ghosts of the Coast,” that ran at the Strand Theater.
Oberst said he has a friend who edits video for reality TV shows. “It’s always a stretch to create conflict,” he said. “If there’s no conflict, there’s no show. They have to make it as dramatic as possible. If viewers come to Murrells Inlet looking for that, they are going to be disappointed.”
Los Angeles residents are no different from those in Murrells Inlet, Oberst said, when a show is being filmed in their neighborhoods. “You hear the same stuff in LA,” he said. “That’s why they go to remote islands.”
Charlie Campbell, owner of Dead Dog Saloon, answered critics saying he is profiting from the reality show on Facebook this week by posting that he’s banned cast members from his restaurant on the Marsh Walk.
He told fellow board members of Murrells Inlet 2020 last week that cast members were cut off and thrown out of Uncle Tito’s bar.
Social media posts are fueling the community’s outrage and driving interest in the show. One woman said a neighbor should, “buy a gun and use it if you have to. If I am on the jury, you won’t be convicted.”
Resident Bill Hills has tried to tamp down outrageous claims such as the county’s public officials were bribed to look the other way. “What we need to address is how did we get to this point,” he told County Council members Tuesday, “and what we can do in the future.”