Miniseries on the set of Tammy Wynette and George Jones in Wilmington, North Carolina

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Wilmington is returning to the 1970s – at least on the sets of “George & Tammy,” the TV miniseries that ramped up production in the port city this month.

Based on the brief, passionate but rocky marriage of country music legends George Jones and Tammy Wynette, “George & Tammy,” which began production late last year, stars Oscar-nominated actors Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain in the title roles.

As of Monday, production had taken over nearly all of the Legion Sports Complex on Carolina Beach Road for filming a concert scene.

On the Legion Stadium football field, a stage has been set up, facing Carolina Beach Road. In the stands, extras dressed in ’70s clothes were yelling and screaming at the right time.

The Legion’s main parking lot was filled with work trucks and tents for extras and wardrobe, while a parking lot between Buck Hardee (baseball) Field and Stadium Drive was filled with classic cars, many from the 70s , some of which were charged. on trucks entering and exiting the lot.

“George & Tammy” is based on the book “The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George,” written in 2011 by Georgette Jones, the only child of Jones, who died in 2013, and Wynette, who died in 1998.

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In early January, Georgette Jones posted a “George and Tammy update” on her Facebook page, featuring a photo of Shannon as Jones and Chastain as Wynette. There was also a photo of Shannon and Chastain in costume, with producer Andrew Lazar, head writer Abe Sylvia and others on a set representing the old Buckely’s Record Store in Nashville.

“George & Tammy” writer Sylvia is known for his television work (“Nurse Jackie”, “Dead to Me”) and he also wrote the screenplay for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”, based on the documentary on the rise and fall of Christian evangelist Tammy Faye Bakker, which starred Chastain as Bakker. (Chastain’s production company Freckle Films is involved in “George & Tammy.”)

Chastain has two Oscar nominations (best supporting actress for “The Help” and best actress for “Zero Dark Thirty”), as does Shannon (best supporting actor for roles in “Revolutionary Road” and “Nocturnal animals”).

Another “George & Tammy” cast member is actor Steve Zahn (“The White Lotus,” “8-Bit Christmas”), who starred in the Emmy-nominated film “Uncle Frank,” which filmed in Wilmington in 2019. Zahn plays George Richey, a songwriter from Nashville and who married Wynette after she and Jones separated.

The series will chronicle Jones and Wynette’s six-year marriage, which ended in divorce in 1975. The couple were known for their duets – ‘We’re Gonna Hold On’, ‘Golden Ring’ and ‘Near You’ – but had plenty of hits too, like Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” and Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today”.

The music for the series is performed by Oscar and Grammy winner T Bone Burnett, known for his work on films such as “Walk the Line” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

The production will shoot a few scenes at EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, in addition to filming around Wilmington. Filming will continue at least until March, if not April.

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Tony Rivenbark, who is the executive director of the historic Thalian Hall in downtown Wilmington, said “George & Tammy” will shoot scenes at Thalian in March, with the production using the main stage, backstage and bedrooms at the Wilmington City Council, or Ballroom. .

Rivenbark said Thalian Hall could be used to play different locations in the series, including a theater in Las Vegas and even the famed Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The original wooden bench-style seats on Thalian’s upper balcony quite match the wooden seats on the Ryman.

A release date for “George & Tammy” has yet to be announced, but it could premiere later this year on Spectrum Originals. After the series premieres, it will air on the Paramount Network and the Paramount+ streaming service.

Currently, “George & Tammy” and “Boys of Summer,” a supernatural thriller starring Mel Gibson and Kevin James, are the only two productions filming in the Wilmington area. This comes after a banner year for Wilmington’s film industry.

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“We’ve never been busier than last year,” said Bill Vassar, Executive Vice President of EUE/Screen Gems Studios.

Vassar said there was so much film and television production in Q4 2021 that the film industry is currently in a downturn.

He said he continues to receive multiple inquiries about new productions renting space from Screen Gems and is confident more titles will be announced for Wilmington in the weeks and months to come.

“There are only so many places productions can go,” Vassar said.

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A possible production for Wilmington this year is the FOX drama “Our Kind of People,” which had its season finale on Tuesday, Jan. 25, but could return for another season.

Contact John Staton at 910-343-2343 or [email protected]

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