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Murrells Inlet: Community greets reality show debut with a shrug
By Jason Lesley
The reality show that Murrells Inlet has been dreading to see, like a car wrecked on the side of the road, is coming into view.
“Party Down South” will premiere next Thursday on CMT at 10 p.m. The show is being promoted as a southern version of the CMT hit series “Jersey Shore.” It was filmed at King’s Krest, a large home on the creek in Murrells Inlet in August with cast members disturbing neighbors with late night noise and acting up for the cameras in public.
While it was being filmed, the show had residents worried that it would harm the inlet’s reputation. Now that the “Party” is just a week away, it’s hard to find a good spot to watch it.
It won’t be on at the Dead Dog Saloon. The Beaver Bar has a band scheduled that night, and a bartender said the volume is turned down on the TV sets.
Warren Stedman, a neighbor who had the show’s producer arrested for violating the county noise ordinance after weeks of late-night shenanigans, said he didn’t think he would watch it. “I saw enough this summer,” he said. “I just hope it doesn’t make us look too bad.”
Sue Sledz, executive director of Murrells Inlet 2020, will be another one missing the premiere. She says she doesn’t get the CMT channel in her cable package.
“Party Down South” slipped into an unsuspecting Murrells Inlet last summer. Stedman said he heard the show was going to be a documentary before the crew strung red Solo cups across the King’s Krest backyard, moved furniture outside around a fire pit and cut loose.
Critics have said that the cast doesn’t reflect the people who visit the inlet. True. Half came from Louisiana. According to a news release, they are:
• Lyle Boudreaux, 28, Lafayette, La., loves the sound of duck calls, and his 5-year-old daughter means the world to him. He considers himself a down-home gentleman with a Cajun swagger and southern smile that ladies can’t resist.
• Lauren White, 21, Pineville, La., is ready to get out of her mother’s house, party hard and get her extensions dirty. When it comes to taking her clothes off, Lauren will be the first to strip down in the name of a good time.
•Mattie Breaux, 24, Gheens, La., stands tall at 6-3 and is never shy about speaking her mind. Mattie’s love life is full of drama. She had a boyfriend back home but said she’s ready to explore more of what the South has to offer.
• Tiffany Heinen, 25, Eunice, La., grew up on a 180-acre farm surrounded by rice fields and alligators. Loud and opinionated, she never keeps anyone guessing about what is on her mind.
• Josh Murray, 31, Louise, Miss., is a lovable 300-pounder who somehow ends up in a fight, even though he claims to never be the instigator.
• Ryan Richards, 33, Orange Beach, Ala., is a ladies’ man who never leaves home without his best friend, the beer funnel.
• Walt Windham, 26, Frankfort, Ky., is a drifter with an appetite for courting danger and the inability to say no to a dare.
• Taylor Wright, 23, Rockingham, N.C., is nicknamed “Lil Bit” for her petite size but isn’t afraid to stand her ground. Her two favorite accessories are her guns and her Bible.
Among the show’s other titles were “The Dirty South” and just “Dirty South” but were discarded for the more subtle “Party Down South.” Jersey Shore creator SallyAnn Salsano and 495 Productions collaborated on the production. “Southern-fried Snooky?” posed one television flack in describing the show as “Jersey Shore’s” drinking and drama going to the country.
Despite complaints from neighbors, Georgetown County officials said they could do little to regulate the filming once it started. They took action in the fall to make sure the reality show didn’t come back for a sequel.
A county film ordinance was passed, requiring a $1,000 permit at least 45 days before filming that restricts noise, lighting and disturbances. At least 30 days before filming is scheduled to begin, the film company will have to give written notice to all businesses and residents within 500 feet of a filming location. If a permit is issued, these activities are restricted to the hours from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the Waccamaw Neck.
Any lighting used for filming will have to be shielded from residences and from the ocean after dark.
Use of anything that involves “flames or incendiary devices” will require a permit from a county fire company and will be prohibited in residential areas.
Much of the enforcement of the ordinance lies with the county administrator who has the right to determine the number of cast and crew members and what constitutes filming, storage, staging, site work or preparation. He can revoke permits during natural disasters or other emergencies.