Filming of TNT show resumes locally

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 16, 2011



LAPLACE – Location filming for the TNT network show Memphis Beat resumed at various sites in the River Parishes last week while set designers continue work on a revamped studio set inside the St. John Community Center in LaPlace.

The procedural cop drama starring Jason Lee and Alfre Woodard returned to the region Thursday to continue filming scenes for the show’s second season. The production has set up shop at the Norco recreation area at the Bonnet Carre Spillway and is also scouting sites in sugar cane fields behind LaPlace subdivisions, according to Coy St. Pierre, film coordinator for the River Parishes Tourism Commission.

“There are plans to blow up a mobile home in one of the cane fields this week, but they haven’t settled on a site,” St. Pierre said. “It should be an interesting sight if you can find it.”

St. Pierre said sight finders for the show have been walking the area looking for other locations to film. She said residents should not be alarmed if someone knocks on their door to inquire about filming.

“Understandably, we have gotten calls about that from concerned residents who didn’t think it was legitimate,” St. Pierre said. “But that’s how they operate when they scout locations. They go door to door.”

St. Pierre said the show has been filming on location while carpenters and other crew members continue to tweak the revamped studio set inside the soundstage at the community center. She said the set will look the same, but it is being converted from a “single scene” setup to a “walk and talk.”

“Before, when characters entered and left rooms on the set, the scene would have to be cut so cameras could move to different parts of the set,” St. Pierre said. “When the changes are completed, the sets will be designed for cameras to follow actors as they walk and say lines. The setup saves time and money for the production.”

St. Pierre said the show will resume filming inside the soundstage later this month and they will film in the area until June, when they will break for the summer.

The production is paying the parish $25,000 per month for use of the soundstage. If the show gets renewed for a third season, St. Pierre said she expects the production company to renew the lease.

The production has occupied the 47,000 square-foot building since early last year, making it off limits to community functions. The lack of access most recently affected LaPlace’s Krewe du Monde carnival organization, which had to relocate its annual ball to the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner.

Parish President Natalie Robottom said the parish will work with community groups to schedule around future occupation of the community center by film and television productions.