GEOREGTOWN — Murrells Inlet residents flocked to the Georgetown County Council meeting Tuesday to express their distaste for a new reality show – known locally as “Party Down South” – filming at Kings Krest, an old waterfront home on a marsh.
Warren Stedman, who lives two houses down from where the show – for which a formal name has not been released – is being filmed, said the crew and characters are ruining his life.
“It has affected my family greatly,” Stedman said.
Despite concerns raised Tuesday by Stedman and others from the community, the County Council said it could do nothing to stop the filming, which is happening on private property.
“It’s everything we thought it was going to be,” Stedman said. “The first night they were filming, there was filthy language heard from their porch, and it was disgusting.
“I don’t know what can be done, but this has consumed my life for the past two weeks.”
Stedman, who also said he hasn’t slept for three nights because of the noise, said the show doesn’t reflect life in the inlet or life on the Waccamaw Neck.
“Murrells Inlet is about fishing, swimming at the creek, crabbing and having fun,” Stedman said. “This is not a good thing for Murrells Inlet. This is not a good image.”
When asking for residential input on stricter zoning and filming laws in the county, more than 40 people stood in support of Stedman’s pleas.
The Burbank, Calif., production company that made “Jersey Shore” famous – 495 Productions – has a contract with CMT for eight episodes of a spin-off, but with a tweak of country living.
Filming crews can be seen swarming around the Kings Krest home, nestled on the marsh with screened-in porches and a dock. The house sleeps 11 and rents for about $2,500 a week.
Though many locals aren’t on board with the show, Al Hitchcock, co-owner of Drunken Jack’s restaurant, has been contracted to cater food to the 100-member show for 30 days. Hitchcock said he’s happy for the economic boost in the small community.
“It would be good for the area,” Hitchcock said. “And they’ll be spending money. You don’t have 100 people in the inlet without spending money.”
Bill Hills, Murrells Inlet resident, disagrees.
“With the fireworks happening every night starting at 10 p.m. and the new reality show, life in Murrells Inlet has not been paradise,” Hills said.
Though he is bothered by excessive noise from fireworks, and the type of image given off by the reality show, Hills said his biggest concern was the council’s lack of community input.
“Had there been input sought from the community on both these issues, though the outcome would have been the same, we may have looked at these things differently,” Hills said.
“It was the least you could do, as a county council. We deserve to be heard by our government,” he said.
Georgetown County councilman Jerry Oakley said the act of filming is a First Amendment right, and the council cannot do anything now to stop 495 Productions.
“I certainly regret that they community is upset, but there’s not anything the council can do at this point,” Oakley said.
The group doesn’t need a permit to film, and since crews have permission to film on Kings Krest, private land, Georgetown County has no control over the content.
“I think people have some real, serious issues from this show,” Oakley said. “I have every sympathy for the residents and the issues they raise.”
If residents run into any problems with the cast, including noise violations, Oakley urged them to call the sheriff.
“We can’t censor them, but the cast and crew’s activities are still impacted by the law,” Oakley said.
Stedman said production crews claimed they’d return to the inlet if the show is a success, given the natural surroundings and state filming incentives. His pleas for county assistance resonated with several attendees, also asking for government intervention.
“I don’t know what can be done about this, but the people of Murrells Inlet need your help,” Stedman said.