The Nashville Network’s new show features Seaside at its best By Wendy O. Dixon
Plenty of today’s reality shows depict the worst of Southerners — usually, those who will make fools of themselves for a chance at fame. Finally, a non-fiction television show that celebrates the South will debut later this year on The Nashville Network. And in its pilot, you’ll see Seaside as the traveling show’s first stop.
“Sweet Tea” host Mallory Ervin, best known for her two successful CBS seasons on The Amazing Race in 2010 and 2011, was crowned Miss Kentucky and competed in Miss America, winning fourth runner up in 2010. Her sparkling personality shines as she explores unique locales along Highway 30A, making a special visit to Barefoot BBQ to meet owner Jim Murphy and dig into some good ole Southern barbecue.
“Murphy is a star himself,” says executive producer Leanne Banna-Pritchett. “We had some awesome barbecue. His product is amazing — what he does out of that little Airstream. And he was dealing with true Kentucky aficionados who know their barbecue.”
Banna-Pritchett, who created the show, and executive producers Lewis Chaney and Neil Kellen are based in Henderson, Ky. Their pitch for the show involved a documentary in a magazine feature format.
“You see these stories in city magazines or in popular Southern-based publications, but nowhere do you see this refined culture and localized charm showcased positively on non-fiction television,” says Banna-Pritchett. “We look forward to bringing today’s South to television and becoming the ultimate chamber piece for the South.”
According to the producers, “Sweet Tea” will enable the viewer to experience more depth in the sights and sounds of the South through lushly produced visuals and interviews while experiencing firsthand fun encounters with Southern belle Ervin.
The crew started their shoot in Seaside in March. Banna-Pritchett, who spends many a vacation here, says Seaside was a natural place to begin the show. “The architecture here, which is photographed internationally, is fascinating,” she says. “And that became the crux of our story, new urbanism.”
Jerry Fox, a 40-year veteran in television, says the show has the right formula to be a success. “We believe ‘Sweet Tea’ can be a major success for a variety of reasons, including the focus on the South and Southern lifestyles, the talented Mallory Ervin and the quality and production values demonstrated to us to date,” he says.
“We want the sights, sounds authenticity of the South,” says Banna-Pritchett. “We see ourselves as a backstage pass to the South. We’re excited to be bringing it to fruition.” Currently in the tedious process of editing 20 hours of footage for a 26-minute show, the producers present the pilot to TNN in mid-May.
Banna-Pritchett says social media can be a big help to gain support for their show. Visit the website at SweetTea.TV and follow their progress on Twitter at @SweetTeaTVShow or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SweetTea.
... more support we can get from people who say they’re ready for a show like this, the more it helps our cause,” she says. “This is about showing the South, the whole South, in a favorable way.