‘Purple’ needs extra cast to shoot in Macon, Georgia

The wood and brick structures of Dunlap Park in downtown Macon are not built to last.

Contractors are working on a set for April’s musical adaptation of The Color Purple, slated for a December 2023 release.

Famed Eatonton native Alice Walker won a Pulitzer Prize for her 1982 novel of the same name, which was adapted into Steven Spielberg’s main film in 1985. The film version features Whoopi Goldberg’s breakout role, with Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover also starring.

The musical will star Danielle Brooks, Taraji P. Henson, Colman Domingo, Louis Gossett Jr. and Fantasia Barrino, among others.

Actors and performers from Macon and Atlanta are encouraged to apply for this latest edition of the story of poor, uneducated black teens growing up in the South in the early 1900s.

Backstage.com is currently searching for 1920s Citizen extras working in Macon on April 6. Casting sites look for adults of Caucasian or European ancestry 18 and older.

“It’s going to be a fast-paced, lively, stunt-filled scene with lots of dancers and singers,” according to the casting call.

According to the ad, estimated pay for about 10 hours of work is between $110 and $150.

Aaron Buzza, vice president of development at Visit Macon, said he had been working with Warner Bros. for months to find a location.

Three days of filming are expected from April 6 to 8 in downtown as well as at the Douglas and Capitol Theaters, Buzza said.

The county will announce street closures, especially around the new set that looks like an old gas station on Poplar and Third Streets.

Buzza said he didn’t know the details of the scene in the new scene, only that it would be during the day.

“It’s going to be really important because they’re shooting at that intersection and want to be able to shoot from behind and inside, looking back at Plum Street from it,” Buzza said.

Don’t look for too much variation in Street View, Buzza says, as many of the Macon’s modern touches can be removed in post-production. This week, a crew is adding a “Bates Grocery” sign to the old U.S. Army surplus store near the corner.

“They’re going to remove some streetlights and fix the rest,” Buzza said.

While strolling downtown during the closing weekend of the Cherry Blossom Festival, Macon-Beeb County Mayor Lester Miller said he thought the set “looks cool,” but said it wasn’t built to last and would likely be in Demolished before staff left.

Filmmaking has really started to pick up again after COVID-19 shut down some films and halted scouting, Buzza said.

He said he was in discussions with a number of other filmmakers interested in coming to Macon.

“The plans for a lot of works are far enough now that it’s hard to see where we can fit in,” he said. “We’ll probably see two or three more before the fall, and that’s if everything is in place. There’s been a good conversation and people are impressed with what they’re seeing in Macon.”

Having the new Hotel 45 downtown is a benefit, Buzza said, because actors like to stay close to the set. At least two more hotels are already planned in the city center, which will only make the city more attractive to the film crew, he said.

“Whether we’re booking 20 rooms, 50 rooms, or 100 rooms, I think that adds to the appeal of the city center,” Buzza said. “People prick up their ears when you say a brand new hotel. It just adds to the appeal of downtown Macon.”

Buzza has been focused on logistics, so he doesn’t know which “Purple” stars might be in town, but says he’s excited to be shooting another big movie here: “I think it’s going to be great.”

Citizen Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian leads the Macon-Bieb County government entity and can be reached at fabian_lj@mercer.edu or 478-301-2976.

This story was originally published March 31, 2022 at 11:39 am.

Justin Baxley is a fan life reporter for The Daily Telegraph, writing stories about entertainment, food and sports in the Macon community. Justin joined The Telegraph staff in May 2017 after graduating from Mercer University with a degree in criminal justice and journalism. During his tenure at Mercer, he served as The Cluster’s Sports Editor.

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