The Group Travel Leader

MAY 2017

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GROUP TRAVEL LE ADER T H E In a twist of "life imitating art," Williams, who inherited the building, opened the Whistle Stop Café after the movie debuted, and current owner Elizabeth Bryant bought it about 15 years ago. Today, the tiny town draws busloads of visitors who stop to enjoy fried green tomatoes, fried green tomato sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, pork ribs and burgers, all in the 1930s-style cafe that looks almost exactly as it did in the movie. Also on the menu are pound cake, peach cobbler, pecan cobbler and fried apple pie. When they're done eating, visitors can stroll out back to see the stone barbecue pit, Bennett's "grave" and the shanty where Smoky Lonesome stayed. Guests can also wander Juliette's short dirt roads to the train tracks, the depot, the nearby church and the cemetery where two headstones bear the names Buddy Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison — and where they may even find a jar of honey sitting on top. WWW.THEWHISTLESTOPCAFE.COM S A V A N N A H As a film location, Savannah is easy: The historic city doesn't even have to try to look like it's straight out of a movie. Movie producers and televi- sion crews are f locking to Savannah and neighboring Tybee Island to film full-length features and new television shows. Many of the area's films, such as "The Spongebob Squarepants Movie" and "Dirty Grandpa," are more recent, so they haven't had time to seep into the pop-culture psyche. "Baywatch," starring Zac Efron and Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, was filmed on Tybee, and when it comes out this summer, viewers will see "these crazy stunt scenes they did on the pier," said Chelsea Paulsen, group tour sales manager for Visit Savannah. In the opening shot of "Forrest Gump," a feather f loats down past Independent Presbyterian Church toward Chippewa Square, landing at the feet of Tom Hanks, who spends most of the movie sitting on a bus stop bench, telling his incredible life story to anyone who sits down. The bench was a prop and is now housed in the Savannah History Museum, but the square is a popular stop for fans of the movie. Savannah is also the famous setting of an infamous crime that was immortalized in a book and movie: "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." This classic recounts the true events surrounding the death of Danny Hansford and the trials of Jim Williams, an art and antiques dealer and Savannah socialite who was infamously tried for murder four times and finally found not guilty in the shooting death of Hansford. Groups can tour the historic Mercer-Williams House Museum where Williams lived; both Noble Jones Tours and Savannah Movie Tours also highlight the home. During a trolley tour with Old Savannah Tours, guides act in character, including as Gump or Jim Williams. WWW.VISITSAVANNAH.COM C O V I N G T O N The first film ever shot in Covington was "A Man Called Peter" in 1954. "We've been doing it so long," that the city is known as the Hollywood of the South, said Jenny McDonald, director of tourism and marketing for the Covington/Newton County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The city is 35 miles east of Atlanta and offers a plethora of historic architecture and picturesque settings, both of which make it popular as a film location. Today, Covington boasts about 70 production credits, including "Miracles From Heaven," 2016; "Selma," 2014; and "Sweet Home Alabama," starring Reese Witherspoon, 2002. In the 1981 Burt Reynolds film "The Cannonball Courtesy Southern Hollywood Film Tour THIS PEACHTREE CITY HOUSE APPEARED IN "FRIED GREEN TOMATOES."

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