Some Brookhaven Heights residents aren’t thrilled about their new neighbors – the cast and crew of a reality TV show.
A home on Matthews Street is being used as the set of an upcoming spinoff of the Style Network’s “Big Rich Texas.” The show, which is in the process of being renamed, is about wealthy mothers and daughters in the country club scene and the drama that entails.
But for neighbors, the drama is all about the traffic, noise and inconvenience of filming on their narrow residential road.
“We have no notice of when they film,” said Barry Hazen, who lives directly across the street from the set. “When they film there could be as many as 12, 13, 14 cars and vans blocking the street.”
During production, garbage trucks have not been able to get through to pick up his trash, he’s missed mail deliveries because mail trucks could not get to his home, and he worries that if an emergency happens, an ambulance may not be able to access the street.
Fly on the Wall Productions, which is producing the show, said in a statement that it is working with residents to address concerns.
“Matthews Street plays an important part in the lives of some of the women on our show,” the company said in a statement emailed by a representative of Style Network. “We have the utmost respect for the neighbors and the community and have addressed any concerns that have been communicated to our production team on the ground. We welcome an open dialogue with any neighbors if they feel their concerns are going unanswered.”
Hazen said he has plenty of concerns.
“It’s a safety issue,” Hazen said. “If you park on both sides of Matthews Street there’s no room for an emergency vehicle to get through. It’s become a little dangerous.”
Hazen said he’s also frustrated because film crews will not provide a schedule of when they will be shooting and often shoot late at night, early in the mornings and on weekends.
“Fulton County and some adjoining counties have regulations to regulate this sort of thing. The city of Decatur does, but unincorporated DeKalb – of which we are still a part – has no regulation for this.”
Gerry Polk, who lives diagonally across the street from the set, said he wouldn’t mind if a movie were being filmed in his neighborhood, but he doesn’t like the idea of this show being associated with his neighborhood. “It’s also not a family-friendly production,” he said. “It’s a smarmy kind of low-brow, cheap popular-culture production.”
Besides, film crews generally only spend a few days at a location.
“I understand it’s important to attract the film industry into our community,” Polk said. “But this is a kind of unique situation in that it’s serial. If it’s successful, and apparently the one in Texas has been very successful … there’s no end in sight.”
Polk said the situation is frustrating because he thinks zoning should be more restrictive when it comes to long-term productions.
“There’s a parking issue and a privacy issue. I feel like I’m living in a movie set and not a residential neighborhood when they’re there,” Polk said.