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January 10, 2014

TV series energizes CSH

MILLEDGEVILLE —

A major television network infiltrated Milledgeville’s Central State Hospital this week.

The CW show “The Originals” set up production shop at the Jones and Binion buildings, bringing excitement to an old campus in need of revitalization.

As the almost vacant hospital ground begins the repurposing process started by the CSH Local Redevelopment Authority (CSHLRA), the timing seems perfect.

CSHLRA Executive Director Mike Couch said landing the production means energy and economic activity for the community. He credits Jane Sowell, director of the Convention & Visitors Bureau, for sealing “The Originals” deal.

“It’s bigger than just the state hospital,” Couch said. “To me it validates us asking for this to be a film ready site.”

Sowell said the CW Network, a joint venture between Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS, contacted the CVB two months ago searching for a mental institution location.

“We showed them around Central State, and the scout loved it,” Sowell said. “The process was a learning experience for all of us.”

The production executives liked Rivers Prison at first, but the Georgia Department of Corrections (DOC) decided it didn’t want filming on the property.

“We scrambled to get them an alternative location, which is the Binion Building, that they are happy with now,” Sowell said.

The network spent $30,000 for hotel accommodations not to mention using local extras and businesses during their stay. Warner Bros. will provide an economic impact statement with local invested stats.

Milledgeville City Councilwoman Jeanette Walden, District 2, said the city appreciates the one-week economic action. Media attention shines light on CSH redevelopment as well.

“It shows people that the state hospital is here and still alive,” Walden, whose district includes the CSH campus, said. 

The network spent upward of $30,000 for environmental cleanup at the Jones Building as well while preparing the set.

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