‘Selma’ filming to disrupt planned for Marietta

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MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) - Even though big stars will be on Marietta Square later this month, some restaurateurs say prospects are dim for the little guy.

“Selma,” a biopic about Martin Luther King Jr., is set to be filmed on the Square on May 23 and again May 28 and May 29, according to a letter sent to local business owners. Entertainment media outlets have reported the film will be produced by Oprah and Brad Pitt.

A portion of filming will take place inside the Marietta-Cobb Museum of Art and outside on Winters and Anderson streets.

Roads would need to be closed for some of the filming, including Atlanta Street in front of Johnnie MacCrackens, The Local and other businesses on the block off the Square between Anderson and Roswell streets.

Private parking lots on that section of the Square would also be closed.

Gary Leake, owner of Johnnie MacCracken’s Celtic Pub, said he expects to see a significant decline in business when filming begins.

“If they have nowhere to park, they’re not coming here,” Leake said. “They’re literally locking down the whole street.”

Jim Tidwell, owner of The Local at the corner of Atlanta and Roswell streets, said he’s also expecting his patrons to be inconvenienced.

“I understand it may be good for the city, but it’s not good for our business,” Tidwell said.

Leake is also concerned for his employees, who will take a hit in pay and tips when “Selma” takes over part of downtown Marietta. Leake said he has several single mothers on his staff, and he can’t afford to compensate them for lost wages if few paying customers make their way into his restaurant.

“These people don’t have financial means to weather a week without work,” Leake said.

But Leake maintains he understands the notoriety the film industry brings to Marietta and appreciates the film’s message.

He pointed to the filming of “Dumb and Dumber To” on the Square in October, which brought acting heavyweights Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels to Marietta and put the city in the spotlight.

The message of “Selma” hits home for Leake, who hung a photo of King accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in his bar just a few days before the film’s location scout approached him about the street closures.

Martin Luther King Jr. has consequences for an Irish pub because of the implications of religious freedom,” Leake said.

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