GREENWOOD — The movie version of the best-seller “The Help” will still be set in Jackson, but it won’t be filmed there.
Officials announced yesterday that most of the DreamWorks Studios production will be shot in Greenwood, a rural city in the impoverished Mississippi Delta region mostly known for cotton fields and blues music.
Apparently, that’s what appealed to producers.
Greenwood Mayor Carolyn McAdams said the production crew would film around Baptist Town, the neighborhood where blues legend Robert Johnson lived before dying there in 1927. A ballroom scene will be filmed at the old Elks Lodge, where high school prom dances were held decades ago, she said.
“They’re also going to be using some of our county plantations and antebellum homes,” McAdams said. “We’re just blessed that we have a historical town that was appealing enough to catch their eyes.”
The book is a tale about black maids living in Jackson in the 1960s as the civil rights movement was taking shape.
The book, written by Jackson native Kathryn Stockett, spent 56 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. The movie’s connections to Jackson are deep: It’s the hometown of director Tate Taylor and producer, Brunson Green.
The movie will star “Zombieland” actress Emma Stone and Viola Davis, who was nominated for an Academy Award in 2009 for “Doubt.”
“The Help” starts filming in late July.
This isn’t the first time a Hollywood film crew has worked in Greenwood. Some scenes in “The Reivers,” a 1969 movie starring Steve McQueen, were filmed in the city. The most recent filming occurred for “The Chamber,” the 1996 movie based on a John Grisham novel, said Bill Crump, chairman of the Greenwood-Leflore Carroll Economic Development Foundation.
“This is probably the largest film production we’ve ever had,” Crump said.
The production companies will receive a rebate of 20 percent of all expenditures as part of the Mississippi Motion Picture Incentive Program, said Sally Williams, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Development Authority.
A local incentive of about $40,000 in private money will help cover the costs of a costume warehouse and the construction of new offices, Crump said.