No, Kennesaw, GA is certainly not New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago, but it will be gaining nationwide attention. What better way to get on the map than to have a local neighborhood be the subject of a reality TV show. Such is the case for the charming Kennesaw community of Legacy Park!
Motorists driving through Kennesaw’s Legacy Park subdivision off Jiles Road may have noticed a massive wall recently constructed smack dab in the middle of one of the community’s 11 neighborhoods.
No, Cold War-era communists have not taken over. But rather, a Hollywood production team has decided that the city of Kennesaw is the perfect all-American location to film a new CBS reality show, tentatively named “Block Party.”
Filming begins today.
A crew numbering about 200 people installed the 20-foot-high temporary wall that surrounds eight single-family homes on Fairlawn Downs in the Annandale section of Legacy Park, and will be filming the show for 20 days. The wall, made of reinforced steel, encompasses 2,000-square-feet of space.
Set designers deliberately made it to look foreboding, which fits in exactly with the show’s concept of keeping the eight families completely isolated from the rest of their neighbors in the 117-acre subdivision and beyond.
Confined to daily life behind the wall, the families will have to compete against each other in periodic challenges for prizes. Eliminations will occur and the last remaining family will win a cash grand prize – though less than $1 million, according to CBS.
In addition, they’re only allowed to interact with each other and cannot leave the enclosed set, which means an automatic elimination.
“Most reality shows, if not all, are all about the interaction of strangers and there’s a certain dynamic that goes with that,” said producer Jay Bienstock. “There’s never been a show before, that I can think of, that actually has people who know each other very well.”
The show is being produced by well-known TV producers Bienstock, executive producer of “Survivor” and “The Apprentice,” and Mike Fleiss, creator of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette.”
Beinstock – who was tightlipped about certain aspects of the show – said the families know each other very well. They are a diverse group, he said, made up of people who work in different professions including sales and video production.
For two weeks they’ve been placed in a hotel before filming starts so that the crew could install lighting and cameras throughout the set. Their mail will be forwarded and groceries will be provided.
So why Kennesaw of all places?
“When you do a show like this – look for example at ‘The Apprentice,’ you want it to be in New York City. That signifies Donald Trump,” said Beinstock. But “this (Kennesaw) is America. If I’m at home watching this show, I want to sit there and go ‘Oh, that could be my neighbor.'”
Beinstock, who flew in from Los Angeles to check the progress of the show, said it took several months to find the right city and families. Other suburban towns across the nation were considered. Those interested in appearing on the show had to send in a casting tape and get other neighbors to agree to do the show.
“When we saw the neighbors here, where they lived and how different they all were from each other and their personalities,” Beinstock said of the Kennesaw cast. “It was like hitting the lottery.”
However, not everyone interested was lucky enough to be cast on the show.
Paul Barlow, whose family resides in the Marleigh Farm section of Legacy Park, said he was contacted daily by a casting director about being on the show.
“I was so excited because this was truly an opportunity of a lifetime,” he told Examiner.com. Unfortunately for Barlow, his neighbors weren’t as enthusiastic about appearing on a reality show. Apparently, time off from work and other concerns weighed heavily in their decisions.
“I tried to make my neighbors realize the enormity of this opportunity. One out of eight families was going to win some big time cash! The rest of us were to get a minimum of $5,000 for participating. Plus, there would be other smaller prizes along the way to make it even more worthwhile.”
Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews is a resident of Legacy Park, a middle-class neighborhood where homes presently sell in the mid-$100,000 to the $750,000 range. He said the show began looking for cast members last year and that he met with production people in March.
“They were mainly looking to see what kind of support they had,” Mathews said. As mayor, he said he was primarily concerned with what type of impact the show would have within the neighborhood.
“I didn’t want to see a huge disruption to immediate neighbors,” he said. “We were assured it was going to be a family-friendly environment.”
Because many of the people hired as crew members are local residents and the TV exposure could potentially be very favorable to the city, the mayor said he was pleased to sign a contract between the city, production company and Legacy Park’s homeowner’s association.
There’s no set date for when the show will air, said Beinstock. He said it could be next year before that happens.
Meanwhile, law enforcement officers have been guarding the set 24 hours a day. Their main job has been to keep traffic flowing through the neighborhood. Many people, it seems, have shown up just to get a glimpse of the wall.
Quite an event for Legacy Park! It’s a wonderful familiy oriented community with great schools. Amenities include pools, lighted tennis courts, playground, lake, soccer and baseball programs for kids, jogging paths, clubhouse, social and seasonal events.
If a move to Kennesaw is in your future, contact me for information on Legacy Park. It’s the place to be!
Author:Anne Ortiz (Maximum One Realty Greater Atlanta)