by Sam Spence
on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 1:23 PM
Sunday night marks the debut of Vice Principals, the newest TV show to be shot in Charleston. The Danny Mcbride-starring comedy will premiere at 10:30 p.m. on HBO. But this series will be a little different than the others — it already has a definitive end.
Vice Principals co-creator McBride told Variety last week that after the show wraps up the 18-episode cable TV series — it'll be spread over two seasons — that's it for the Charleston show.
McBride and his writing partner Jody Hill reportedly wrote Vice Principals initially as screenplay a decade ago, but it took that long to beef it up and get around to filming it. When they did, crews spread across the area last fall filming the show in Park Circle, at Stall High School, Porter-Gaud, Edmund's Oast, and Taco Boy, among other locations.
The show documents a single school year at North Jackson High School and the principal politics between McBride and the inimitable Walton Goggins who are jockeying to replace the outgoing top dog, played by Bill Murray.
For the record, we're just going to go ahead and say that we predicted the show's limited run back in April of last year when McBride called the show an "18-part miniseries." OK, he kind of spelled it out, but now it's official. Tune in on Sunday.
by Joe Riley
on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 10:45 AM
This Fri. June 24 the 2015 documentary Dark Horse: The Incredible Story of Dream Alliance will premiere at the Terrace Theatre, with a portion of ticket sales going to benefit Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding. Buy tickets for a screening here.
Dark Horse tells the true story of Dream Alliance, a Welsh racing horse from Cefn Fforest (yes, it's spelled like that), one of the poorest mining valleys in Wales. In 2009 Dream Alliance went on to win the Welsh Grand National to the astonishment of the racing elite. Dark Horse won the audience award for World Cinema Documentary at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and the Washington Post has called the film a “lovable documentary” that is “earnest, sweet and told with sentimentality.”
A portion of ticket sales from June 24 to June 26 will be donated to Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding (CATR), a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of children and adults with disabilities through riding and interacting with horses. CATR’s professional instructors and well-trained horses are dedicated to helping individuals with diseases such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and post-traumatic stress disorder experience movement, build confidence and strength, and gain new skills.
For more information about CATR’s programs, head here.
by David Hall
on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 10:39 AM
Charleston’s Black Bear Studio, a relatively new production company in Charleston, has begun crowdfunding for their upcoming documentary, The Gentlemen Smugglers.
The film will detail the story of South Carolina marijuana drug traffickers, known popularly as “The Gentlemen Smugglers.” Their go-lucky attitude and aversion to violence earned them the nickname in the '70s. Back then, the group used boats to smuggle an estimated 347,000 pounds of marijuana up and down the east coast. They were caught in the 1980s. Warren Ostergard, co-owner of Black Bear Studios, is the film’s lead producer.
(City Paper wrote about Jason Ryan's book on the smugglers, Jackpot: High Times, High Seas, and the Sting that Launched the War on Drugs, back in 2011.)
“The documentary [has] got to be made,” says Ostergard. “This thing is so engaging and you can’t create characters like these guys.”
Ostergard says those characters, mainly the kingpins of the operation Barry Foy and Les Riley, make for the most compelling aspect of the film. Over the past year and half since Ostergard first bought the rights to make the film, he said he’s actually become good friends with Foy and Riley, who now reside in the area after 11 and 17 years of jail time, respectively.
“These guys, they’re good people,” says Ostergard. “They paid the price.”
These days, Ostergard and his partners have had to pay a price of their own to tell their story. According to Ostergard, he and his partners already invested a hefty sum of $100,000 to begin production of the documentary. That’s funded around a third of the film’s production, according to Ostergard. To complete production, the studio is asking the public for $250,000 more. That money will go towards paying crews and shooting re-enactments of the smugglers' many colorful stories.
Ostergard has even hired Foy, now a contractor, to build the studio’s production space. The facility includes a cyclorama, hair and makeup bays, and a collaboration space. The studio has been around about a year and half, making their own films as well as renting out their space to other productions in the Lowcountry, including Southern Charm, which shoots all its interviews in the studio’s space. The studio is even credited to a few national releases, likeNine Eleven, starring Whoopi Goldberg and Charlie Sheen.
The filmmakers expect the documentary to be completed sometime in 2017, so long as fundraising goes according to plan.
“We feel it’s a story that has to be told,” Ostergard said. “It’s generally an awareness problem. If people know what we’re doing they may throw 50 bucks or five bucks or 10 bucks at it to get it made and that’s what it takes.”
If you would like to donate or get more information on the film and see a teaser trailer, visit their indiegogo page here.
This is it. The finale. The end of the season. Over 17,000 words and almost 500 minutes of runtime later, we’ve reached the last episode of Southern Charm season three. My first. Definitely our first together.
So how do you end something like this. I’ve had so much fun writing for you all, and I guess I’m curious about how it’ll all come together. Some of you watch the show regularly. Some have never viewed a second and just touch base with me every week to see what happened. It’s been a really fun ride. So we’re going to take our time with this last one. But before we get into everything that happened during this final outing, we’re going to start the same way we’ve started most of these articles. This may be the last time for a while, but at least we’re here right now. It doesn’t matter what brought us together. As I’m sure you expect, it all ends with a party. So let’s set the scene and introduce our guests as we’ve done so many times before. Hey, everybody. Welcome back.
As I tune in, I realize that Bravo has a countdown clock running for the season finale of Southern Charm, which makes me think, “Yeah, this is super important,” but another countdown clock for a Real Housewives show soon starts up and I realize that we’re all just waiting for something.
This week’s episode starts up where the last left off — everyone is fleeing Thomas’ dinner party onslaught. Thomas calls his dinner guests reptiles, then he says they are spineless. He finishes what seems to be a thought by asking aloud if reptiles have vertebras. They do. This scene is a pretty interesting examination of how we all spout a bunch of nonsense in everyday conversation, so I guess I applaud Thomas’ willingness to question reptile anatomy during his regularly scheduled outbursts.
In the fallout of Thomas’ dinner party tirade, we find Shep, Landon, Craig, and the rest of those who fled the scene arriving at the nearest safe place and immediately deciding to order a pizza. This is the most human moment of this entire season of Southern Charm. Real talk, they were chased away from a dinner party before the meal was served and now everyone has retreated into the security of a late-night pizza order. Really, there’s nothing more comforting as an American citizen than knowing that you’re only a phone call away from cheesy bread. I had an Argentine coworker for a while who, though let down by the quality of American beef, was thrilled by our pizza availability.
'I'm the best at dinner parties'
Thinking about the dinner party he was just chased away from, Shep says what we’re all thinking and asks everyone to think about all the food that went to waste. For real, y’all. The food is the true victim.
Shep begins to partially blame Landon for Kathryn and Thomas’ complaints, and she is visibly upset — but not enough to walk out on that pizza. In many ways, being trapped in a doomed friendship is like waiting on a late-night pizza to arrive. You’ve put in your time. You’re not really enjoying yourself any longer, but maybe if you stick it out, you can finally get the last bit of sustenance out of it. Also, doesn’t “Shep” sound like the name of the last place you’d order food from, but you still give it a try because a suspect patty melt is better than no patty melt at all. Shep is the questionable patty melts of men. I will truly miss him.
Popping back in with Thomas and Kathryn, he asks the mother of his children to stay the night with him. United in rage, I guess, she consents. I totally get this because there is nothing so incredibly uniting than sharing a mutual dislike for someone. Yeah, agreeing that Jerry is an “alright dude” is fine, but agreeing that he clears his throat way too much in the office is much more satisfying. Why do we hate Jerry? Because he makes what can best be described as “personal noises” in a public environment, but also because it brings us closer together. I guess that is another service that television has come to provide. It gives us all a pariah to share and, man, is it gratifying. Screw Jerry.
Next we find Craig dropping by J.D.’s office to deliver his notice. Craig is ready to stop working for J.D. and focus on becoming a lawyer. This all sounds fine, but didn’t Craig invest a ton of money into J.D.’s company for the job? It’s at this point that I realize J.D.’s office has about a dozen fantastical chairs. They’re all ornate, all with their own character. I imagine they come to life at night when the office is free of human eyes. J.D.’s main seat — clad in thick leather and the wisdom of ages — tells the younger chairs what is expected of them. The stools look on in awe, unsure of their place. An ottoman shambles past as an antique rocking chair lights its corncob pipe before recounting the time before recliners and central heating and air pulled Americans in from their porches. Please tune in next season for my animated series titled J.D.’s Living Chair Emporium featuring the voices of Morgan Freeman as the stately recliner, Slim Pickens as the rocking chair, and Elijah Wood as the precocious ottoman. Funding opportunities for this project are still available.
Next we find Cameran visiting her therapist to continue to work through her feelings on having children. The therapist recommended that Cameran put together a list on what becoming a parent would mean for her. We don’t really get to hear much about that because Cameran chooses instead to focus on her husband’s argument for procreating. He thinks that their lives would be lonely if they chose to never have kids, which is kind of an incredible argument. “Hey, I think things are gonna be way too quiet around here with just the two of us. Let’s create life.” By the end of the session, Cameran says her perception of parenthood has shifted slightly. This is probably the greatest amount of character development we’ve witnessed this season. It’s not much, but I’ll take it.
Moving from one place of healing to another, we stop in with Shep as he visits the new bar that he’s opening. He’s becoming the dive bar kingpin of Charleston, he says before comparing himself to Otis, the town drunk from The Andy Griffith Show. I really can’t improve upon this statement. I will say that at this point, Shep has taken on the appearance of Forrest Gump when he was in the early stages of running across America. He is sporting a sweet American flag hat, and all I can think is “Make America Shep Again” and “A chicken in every pot, a Shep in every bar.” This doesn’t really mean anything, but it sounds like it should.
It's been great, Shep
In the next scene, we find Craig trying to break the news to Naomie that he will be quitting his job to study for the bar exam. At first, he really buries the lede on this and it sounds like he is about to break up with her. Finally, Craig says that he will be dedicating his time to becoming a lawyer. He delivers this news like he’s confessing to a crime, which probably isn’t a good sign.
Later, we join Whitney, J.D., and Thomas for dinner as they discuss just what the hell went wrong during Thomas’ dinner party. I don’t think I’ve pointed this out before, but whenever J.D. is at a restaurant on the show, he always orders his own brand of bourbon, which is a pretty awesome move. It’s like when Jay Z orders his own brand of champagne at a club or 50 Cent requests to be hosed down with Vitamin Water. Classy moves all around.
Anyway, Whitney asks Thomas if it is very “Southern” to invite someone into your home and insult them. Thomas responds by saying he may have been “into the cups a little,” which is not a phrase I’m familiar with. Is this a thing people say? “I was really three cups to the wind last night.” “Here, have a little hair of the cup that bit you.” These are all things I will be saying from now on.
Since it’s not a true season finale without stopping at Patricia’s house, we drop by to find her hooked up to her “oxygen therapy” machine, which she says is one of her secrets for looking more youthful. The device also makes bird sounds and plays classical music, because of course it does. Suddenly, while watching this scene, I begin to question the quality of the air in my apartment. It seems so plain and stale. If only there was a way to pay for it and have it make bird noises as I inhaled as if a whooping crane were giving me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. This would be the height of luxury. Also during this scene, Patricia says that Landon will be borrowing some “jewels and furs” for the upcoming ball. I’m not sure at what point you stop saying “jewelry” and start saying “jewels,” but I have the feeling I’ll never be forced to make that call.
Later, Patricia teaches Landon the proper way to sit down while wearing a fur coat. The particular fur that Landon borrows is purple. I am unaware of any animals that are naturally purple, so I can only assume that Patricia had the rarest of beasts genetically crafted in a laboratory for the sole purpose of harvesting its coat.
Breathing in the decadence
The next chunk of the show is largely dedicated to showing the cast prepare for the aforementioned ball. The guys get a shave. Landon gets a visit from Patricia’s stylist. It’s just a lot of nervous anticipation for whatever adult prom awaits them.
Checking in with Thomas and Kathryn, Kathryn issues a sort of ultimatum for Thomas, saying that Landon must be cut out of their lives forever. Now, I believe my notes are correct here, but apparently Thomas says Kathryn’s intuition is the end result of wisdom collected throughout the ages over the course of multiple past lives. She says that she is glad he sees this. This is all said with zero humor or irony. Meanwhile, while listening to this conversation, my head has split open and whatever understanding I had of human behavior has flown out.
Arriving at the ball, everyone looks really great. Much to my surprise, Shep is wearing a cummerbund rather than a replica WCW heavyweight championship belt. If you’ll remember, Shep was also the name of Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s tag-team partner during the late ’80s. Together, they formed the Stompin’ Boys and took the world by storm.
You sure do
Leading up to the ball, Thomas has called everyone else on the show to apologize for his outburst at the dinner party, so we’ll see how far that goes in smoothing things over. In a moment of true sadness, we find Landon heartbroken to find that Shep has arrived with a date. This is actually very touching. I think we’ve all been there before. We create these little stories in our heads about how things are going to work out. Hope is sometimes enough to make us believe in anything. Then, when reality fails to line up, we’re left devastated. The show pauses on this moment for a brief time, but it manages to have an impact.
As Kathryn and Thomas arrive, Kathryn asks, “Drink or people?” in what has been a constant dilemma in my life. Things seem like they may be OK as the couple begins to mingle with the rest of the cast, but then Kathryn spots Thomas speaking with Landon. Kathryn asks Landon to step out of the ballroom so they can hash it out, but the conversation quickly erupts into nonsense. Landon asks Thomas to join their conversation, and he looks like he’s trying to find the nearest window to use for an escape. Set a diversionary fire in the kitchen and sneak out through the laundry room, Thomas. Everyone then decides that a crowded formal ball is the best place to have a serious conversation about human relationships. The season ends in turmoil. Kathryn has written everyone off. Thomas looks dumbfounded at the whole situation. And Landon’s friend implies that there is more to Thomas and Landon’s relationship than either are willing to admit. That’s it. It’s over. Nothing is really settled, but I guess that’s more realistic than anything else we’ve seen this season.
And with that we’re done. I suggest you cue up Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” while I take us home.
It has been an absolute pleasure to write this column for you all, and I hope you’ve gotten some enjoyment out of the whole exercise. Sadly, I don’t think we’re newbies anymore. We’ve graduated to something new. I’m not really sure what that is, or whether it’s better or worse, but at least we did it together. I’m not sure if we’ll ever see any more episodes of Southern Charm, but at least we’ll always have the last 12 weeks and a dozen articles to remember them by. Moving on, I guess it’s important to remember that we never stay the same person for too long. I walked into this season not really knowing what to expect. Now, after all the flamingo parties and bourbon-themed horse races, I’m a little changed by the whole experience. We can’t be newbies forever. But we can look back on how we’ve been able to share a little part of our week having fun together. Whether it amounts to a true learning experience or just a small distraction from the pressures of everyday life, I appreciate you all for taking the time to make the trip with me.
When I started writing, it was in college for a student-organized erotic short story contest. It was just something we decided to do for fun. Something to pass the time. Now, I actually get paid to write, which isn’t something I thought would actually happen. And although it’s become a part of my daily routine, with all the grinds that come with a career, there’s still nothing like the feeling that you’re actually sharing something with the readers. So thanks for allowing that. Thanks for reading. I’ll still be here. Feel free to check in anytime. And until we speak again, take care of yourselves and each other. This has been Dustin Waters, your Southern Charm newbie, signing off.
Hey, everybody. I’m certain it comes as no surprise when I say it’s been a difficult week. Hell, it’s been a difficult year or two. I can’t even keep track anymore. The reason I mention any of these weightier items in the context of my reviews is I think a lot of people gloss over the importance of some television.
A lot of shows are meant to provoke thought or inform. But there’s an equally important portion of the television landscape that’s simply intended to distract — if only for a few brief moments — from all the sorrow and tragedy that piles on over the course of a day. Television catches a lot of crap for being a passive medium, but maybe sometimes that’s what you need. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to sit down and watch a show that helps you not think about real life for a minute. I feel like a lot of people push themselves to engage in all the most important things in life every minute of every day, but sometimes you just can’t.
Since I started writing this column, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people or reading comments about Southern Charm. And I’ve noticed that there’s an overwhelming majority that always qualifies their statements about the show or the column. You have the group who makes it clear up front that they’ve never watched a minute of the show. This is totally acceptable. Then you have the group who are regular viewers, but they preface their comments about the program by insisting that they are intelligent or educated or enjoy much more high-brow forms of entertainment. Now, this always worries me because it means at some point, somewhere, a line was drawn between enjoying certain things and being a quality human being. Let me tell you, that doesn’t exist. I’m probably not the best advocate for this cause. My dinner last night consisted of a tin of Smoked Hickory Beanee Weenee with Chex Mix poured overtop. I consumed this all while crouched in my underwear on the couch in my living room before heading out to cover another story. It was what my wife and I lovingly refer to as a “garbage person” moment.
The thing is, buying my dinner at a gas station doesn’t disqualify me from understanding what makes a great meal. Sometimes you just need something easy while you sort out everything else that is going on in the world. So whether it’s Southern Charm or anything else you might perceive to be a “guilty pleasure” — for lack of a better term — don’t ever let the cheapest thing you enjoy define you. You’re always going to be the best and the worst versions of yourself, so just be who you will be. I guess I’ll let that be the one uplifting thing I say this week.
Jumping into this week’s episode of Southern Charm, we briefly see Whitney deliver a puppy to Patricia’s home and say here’s Chauncey, your grand-dog. The show gives us no more information on this event because it hates us. I would watch an entire show about Patricia welcoming animals into her family.
Balling out of control at Patricia's
Moving on, we find Craig paying a visit to Kathryn to see her newest offspring. He goes through the whole “He has your lips, but his eyes” nonsense before admitting that all babies just look the same to everyone who didn’t give birth to them. Craig later asks Kathryn when her newborn will “start to do stuff,” and I am again smitten with Craig. I’ve decided that this show would be much more to my taste if it focused on discussions of how all babies look alike and showing animals to Patricia.
Next, Thomas meets J.D. for lunch and announces that he will be inviting our cast of characters to a big dinner party to celebrate the birth of his son. Longtime readers will recognize this dinner party as the one that was foretold of in the season premiere. We were shown glimpses of a tumultuous night at T-Rav’s during the first scenes of season three, and it now seems things are finally going to pay off. I look back at the past 11 weeks of my life and think, “Has it really been that long? What has become of you?” I was so young when this all started. Now, as the season of Southern Charm nears its end, I begin to think about what it was all for.
Later in the episode, we find Shep (the term used when you bathe in a sink the morning after) lunching with Cameran. Shep is working through Landon’s revelation that she has feelings for him while Cameran eats a salad like someone who is truly hungry. It is refreshing to see someone eat a meal this shamelessly on television. This scene is intercut with Landon discussing her feelings with her sister. This is the most ambitious thing the show has done this season. At a certain point, they all start to talk about screwing and Cameran asks Shep, “Does she tickle your pickle?” Shep admits that he may have pulled Landon into a closet at some point. He says “spontaneity is his move,” which sounds like a line someone would deliver from the witness stand.
Moving past the frightening implications of those intertwining conversations, we see Thomas paying a visit to Kathryn to formulate a plan for his upcoming dinner party. Remember Southern Charm exists in a world where meals carry the same weight as international peace talks. This is also the scene where things start to unravel. We quickly learn that Thomas and Kathryn’s child has an awesome giraffe toy and the couple employs a day nanny and a night nanny. At this point in my notes, I write, “Damn, that’s a lot of nannies,” and I stand by those words.
'Please get me out of here'
While discussing whether or not to invite Landon to the dinner party, Thomas becomes upset by Kathryn’s objections and, naturally, tries to climb out of the window. You know, that thing where you disagree with someone and leave through the window — like Spider-Man would. This proves to be a cunning debate tactic, and Kathryn allows Thomas to invite Landon.
Next we find Cameran paying a visit to Craig to talk about a few things, but this scene highlights a common occurrence on Southern Charm. One of the characters will be sitting at their house and they’ll receive a call from someone, saying, “I’m in your neighborhood. I wanted to stop by.” This happens all the time on this show. Now, I may be in the minority here, but this seems really inconvenient. I don’t think I would be an ideal candidate to star in Southern Charm.
“Hey, Dustin. I’m in your neighborhood. Can I stop by?”
“I’d really rather you didn’t.”
“But... I’m in your neighborhood.”
“And I am watching wrestling videos on YouTube and working my way through some stuff. I turned off all the lights and hid when the mailman stopped by. I’ve been using a towel as a bedsheet, and I don’t really think now is a good time for you to ask me about a dinner party.”
“I have already climbed in through your window.”
'This is just the way I do things now. It's fine'
Back to Southern Charm, we find Landon stopping by Patricia’s to have a talk about relationships. Patricia has on the most legit gold chain, and she tells Landon that no man is worth crying over. Patricia goes on to talk about how she disapproves of how women dress these days. I bet Patricia has plenty to say about people wearing sweatpants on planes. Also, in the grand spiderweb of personal relationships that is Southern Charm, I never would have guessed that Landon and Patricia were confidants. This isn’t an insult to either of them personally. I just assumed they were friends of friends. Does every search for guidance lead to Patricia’s door? Is she like some decadent tipsy Yoda? If I show up with an offering of vermouth, can I finally learn how to get a man? This city holds so many secrets.
Finally, we arrive at Thomas’ dinner party, which was first teased 11 weeks ago. Yep, 11 weeks. This better be the most amazing 10 minutes in television history. Walter White better walk in and say he’s planning to break into Fort Knox with Tony Soprano, The Good Wife, and the cast of Scrubs. Instead of this happening, we get a few more shots of place cards around a dinner table. The cast of Southern Charm is single-handedly keeping the stationary industry in business. Everyone’s life may be constantly shifting in and out of chaos and order, but the one constant on this show is that you will know where to sit.
As the guests arrive at Thomas’ home, the show continues to flash their names across the bottom of the screen. It’s at this point that we learn that the producers of Southern Charm support the Oxford comma. I call this a silver lining in what proves to be a difficult scene.
Gathered around the dinner table, Thomas proposes a toast for his guests. It is at this point that he begins to roast almost everyone at the table. When I first saw clips of this scene during the season premiere — in what I now call the “Before Times” — I had no idea what was really happening. I chocked this up to not being familiar with the show, but it turns out I was wrong. None of this feels like anything an actual human would do. Thomas calls Cameran a “self-righteous bitch.” She is seated immediately to his left. He had complete control over where she was to sit leading into his attack. These are what the place cards are for.
Pretty much this
While Thomas goes around the table to insult his guests, I begin to wonder if they’ve already eaten or is this a pre-meal shouting match. How hungry do you have to be to sit and listen to someone insult you through a dinner? There is definitely a point where you tell yourself, “I’m just gonna wait for the appetizers, and then I’m out. Maybe the first course. I’ll stay for the first course, try to get an idea of what’s for dessert, and then go from there.”
As everyone begins to leave, I notice that no one is exiting through the windows, so that’s a bit of a surprise. That’s how I escape every awkward situation now. There’s no problem too big that clumsily hoisting yourself through a window mid-conversation won’t fix. From what I can tell, this was the penultimate episode of this season. Our time together is running low, but remember, I’ll always be here for you. Just never try to stop by my home without giving a full day’s notice.