As soon as we finished the final shooting script for the latest installment of Scary Movie franchise, we knew it would require specific and exotic locations to bring the comedy to the screen. After scouting every metropolitan area in all 50 states, we finally settled on Atlanta, Ga. with it's myriad of locations, varied topography, every possible weather condition, and massive tax breaks guaranteed to save the studio millions.
After having shot movies in Hollywood, Vancouver, London, and Santa Clarita, this was going to be my first shoot in Atlanta, and I was eager to experience a new city. Our team arrived in early August, and immediately began location scouting. But the first location I needed to find was a hotel to stay at during the 3 month production period.
I selected the Intercontinental hotel, in Buckhead, a Beverly Hills-like suburb on the North Side. It was the perfect place to recharge after the hectic hours on set, and the perfect place in the lobby to unwind, was called "The Bourbon Bar." During shooting, about a dozen of us would head there after wrap, which on a typical Monday might be around 8PM. During this time, I introduced everyone to Woodford Reserve, my favorite Kentucky Bourbon, recommended to me by an old friend in New York. However, as the first week wore on and shooting went later and later, we'd often arrive after 2AM to find the Bourbon Bar closed. In that case, I'd go up to my room and bring down my own Woodford Reserve with ice and tumblers so we could continue talking while the overnight janitorial crew vacuumed around us.
Atlanta's Bourbon bar had amazing wings but some nights we had to set out in search of real food. Luckily just down the street, we found a place called "Twin Peaks" that advertised "Great Views." Since the restaurant was surrounded by other buildings and an alley, we were curious and went in for a look. What we discovered was a low rent Hooters wannabe. Being hungry and focused on ordering ribs, I didn't even realize the obvious play-on-words of the restaurant's name until the check arrived. Real clever.
But we needed to get serious, and plan out the next day's scene with 6 monkeys throwing feces at a dartboard. So we headed to another restaurant, this time more upscale, The Tavern at Phipps, about six blocks away. We were relieved to find it had classier waitresses -- but with equally large breasts -- a high class Hooters wannabe. But we still needed to work and, having had enough distractions, we decided to just go to a strip club. As it turns out, Atlanta is just packed with strip clubs. One on every corner. The Mecca of strip clubs. Lonely guys from around the world must make pilgrimages here. We ended up at a place called The Cheetah. More cleverness. In our group, both males and females seemed to be equally entertained, especially one actress who recently had gone through the breakup of a long relationship. The riveting show onstage managed to make up for the loss of the boyfriend, whose breasts, I had to assume, could not compete with these puppies.
But Atlanta had a larger variety of amusements than just these kinds of places. In fact, the city boasts a variety of outdoor attractions, including the Aquarium, the Coke Museum and Stone Mountain. Located about 45 minutes East of downtown Atlanta, Stone Mountain is a massive granite mountain rising out of the mostly flat plain. A steam locomotive carries tourists around the circumference. But the main feature of the park is the giant bas-relief carving of three equestrian figures, the Confederate heroes, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, all atop their favorite horses. Not having spent too much time in the South, I was used to the heroes we honored in my native Wisconsin, like Abraham Lincoln, "the great emancipator" whose statue commands a spectacular view over the UW campus in Madison. But here in Georgia, this mountain honored these dashing riders who fought so valiantly to... preserve slavery? Uh, I guess. And surrounding me on the vast lawn are 13 monuments to all the Southern states who seceded from the Union, and I'm wondering, does anyone think maybe this is the least bit strange? My God, this was also the place where the KKK was reborn in 1915! I looked around quickly. Fortunately there was no plaque commemorating that. I thought for a second, wait, I'm being punked by Ashton Kutcher in revenge for "My Boss's Daughter." Nope, it's all real, I'm not in Kansas anymore. Gotta get back to the Bourbon Bar and a Woodford for a dose of reality.
So I do, and surrounded by cast and crew again, there are no worries, Scary Movie will rise again. Real clever.