Legislators see TV in action during Wilmington studio tour


Legislators see TV in action during Wilmington studio tour

By Hunter Ingram

StarNews Staff Posted

Oct 18, 2018 at 9:00 AM

The Port City has been starved for productions in recent years, although that appears to be changing

WILMINGTON — Local legislators got a chance to see the fruits of their legislative labor Wednesday during a tour of TV productions shooting on the EUE/Screen Gems Studios lot off North 23rd Street.

State Senators Michael Lee and Bill Rabon and House Representatives Ted Davis Jr. and Rep. Holly Grange all joined studio’s executive vice president Bill Vassar on an extensive tour of the lot that took them on the set of Hulu’s currently filming drama pilot “Reprisal” and DC Universe’s “Swamp Thing,” which is in pre-production.

The Republican legislators, all up for reelection in next month’s midterms, have all been strong supporters of the state’s film industry, fighting for more funding and softer restrictions for the state’s film grant program. The program, implemented in 2015 after the decline of the more lucrative film incentive program, now gets $31 million in funding each fiscal year to be distributed to productions that film and spend money locally.

Wednesday’s tour began on the set of “Reprisal,” which is approaching the end of its 16-day shoot. Should it be picked up for a full season, the show could stay local and film additional episodes. The legislators were given the chance to walk through was a nightclub-style set that was being prepped to host more than 100 background extras for a scene being shot Thursday. The club scene will feature trapeze artists, dancers and blues musicians.

From there, the legislators talked with crews members working on the set, screened footage shot for the series and were given update on recovery from the minimal damage suffered to the studios by Hurricane Florence. They also saw work carpentry work being done to prepare other sound stages for production on “Swamp Thing.”

That upcoming series will air exclusively on the premium DC Universe streaming service in 2019. Production is set to begin in November.

Throughout the tour, the legislators all expressed enthusiasm to see the studio lot lively with workers again after several years of slow business. In 2017, only one production, TNT’s “Good Behavior,” shot in the Port City. This year will likely end with three — “Reprisal,” “Swamp Thing” and the feature film “Words on Bathroom Walls,” which shot in the spring.

The year’s trio of projects comes after the legislature revised the language within the grant program to make it more flexible for smaller projects and more beneficial for pricier series. The language now provides a separate designation for made-for-TV movies to qualify for funding at $1 million of local spending, different from the $3 million required for feature films.

The cap on funding for TV series was also raised from $9 million to $12 million, a change that would allow shows with bigger price tags like “Swamp Thing” to reap more funding.

Reporter Hunter Ingram can be reached at 910-343-2327 or Hunter.Ingram@StarNewsOnline.com.



Achievements in the Fight For Clean Water

Senator Michael Lee authored the Water Safety Act and passed other legislation over the last year in response to GenX and below is a brief summary of those actions:


  1. Specific authority given to Governor to shut down polluters.
  2. Millions of dollars funded to DEQ to hire new personnel and acquire new equipment to address GenX and other emerging compounds.
  3. Created a water quality monitoring and early warning system for GenX and other PFAS compounds that monitors over 192 surface water intakes across our state and all public groundwater supplies in our state.
  4. Require polluters to pay for permanent alternative water supplies (such as municipal water or whole house filtration) for private wells that are contaminated.
  5. Funding to local governments to plan for connection of new users which will be reimbursed by the polluter.
  6. Funding to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and other local public utilities to develop treatment technologies to remove GenX from public water supplies, and to make sure that treatment is working through ongoing monitoring.
  7. Require all industry to provide to DEQ, in a database and searchable format, a list of all compounds they intend to discharge so they can be disclosed to the public.
  8. Funding to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to quantify the amount of GenX in the Cape Fear River and determine the impact it could have on public health and safety.
  9. Begin development of an electronic filing system to speed up the water quality permitting process along with an online, searchable database where local officials and the public can easily find information on permits that have already been granted.


A nationally recognized water quality expert at Duke University responded to the Water Safety Act (that I authored) in a Star News OpEd as follows:


Dear Editor,


. . . . I personally had conversations with many of these legislators to explain how such monitoring could be accomplished and how it might serve to protect public health.  In particular, Senator Michael Lee visited my laboratory and those of several other academic water quality experts in NC.  He spent several hours with me discussing the fine details involved in establishing a statewide emerging contaminant monitoring and alert program.  I was impressed with his eagerness to understand the science and his obvious commitment to do what is necessary to solve the problem of unanticipated emerging contaminant pollution in the drinking water of NC residents.  It is clear that Senator Lee and other lawmakers took those conversations and lab visits to heart . . . .

The eventual legislation on water quality protection that was included within the state budget this summer was modified from the original bills after discussion to focus on polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) such as GenX and related compounds.  However, even as modified, the monitoring network thus established is without question the most sophisticated and comprehensive emerging pollutant monitoring program for water that has ever been established in the United States.  . . . .  [Emphasis added]  It will pave the way for application of technologies to remove these contaminants from water.  Finally it will serve as a model for how states (and nations) should respond to potential chemical hazards in their drinking water sources.  [Emphasis added]

. . . .  In this case, I believe that the lawmakers got it right.  I thank Senator Lee and his colleagues in the NC General Assembly for their action. 


. . . .

Best regards,

P. Lee Ferguson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Pratt School of Engineering &
Nicholas School of the Environment
Duke University


As your State Senator, I know there is more work to do in addition to the Water Safety Act.  Unfortunately, the government agency tasked to protect our clean water missed this one for over 37 years.  The water quality scientists tell me we will need to go beyond the “wet lab” and into that of data analytics in order to protect our drinking water.  GenX is just one of over 5,000 compounds in the PFAS family. In order to identify emerging compounds, they currently have to be reviewed by a scientist.  It is like having a fingerprint and flipping through a fingerprint book. We need to leverage the resources of our state and create a model that will identify these compounds much like we now identify fingerprints in a database.  While that is oversimplifying the matter, just know there is more work to be done on this front.


Additional Shelter Opens in New Hanover County


Additional Shelter Opens in New Hanover County

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – The Johnson Pre-K Center will open at 9 a.m. today as a shelter.  Evacuees at this location should be prepared for the possibility of being transported out of the county. We are working with our state partners to have access to additional shelters in Wake County and other points west.

Those seeking emergency shelter should bring their own blankets/pillows, prescription medications and other necessary items. No alcohol, illegal drugs, or weapons are permitted. There will be limited food service available for people seeking shelter.

Residents of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach, are under a mandatory evacuation order. Residents of Wilmington, and all of New Hanover County who live in low-lying areas where flooding and storm surge are a factor, are strongly encouraged to relocate to locations inland.

All New Hanover County residents and visitors should be in a safe location before 8 p.m. on Wednesday, September 12.

Residents who are at risk of flooding and surge should heed the warnings and evacuate.  New Hanover County will continue to monitor shelter availability in Wake County and will update the public as needed.

New Hanover County Emergency Management continues to operate the Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center. Anyone with questions about evacuating or shelter openings can call the public information hotline telephone number at (910) 798-6800. The latest information regarding Hurricane Florence can be found on the EmergencyNHC.com website.

Residents and visitors are urged to complete their hurricane preparation and evacuation plans, as Hurricane Florence nears.


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