Jeff Smith 6 p.m., Feb. 27
Backlot Streetscape in Atlanta's Tyler Perry Studios Gone With the Flame
Not since Tara was torched has a fire in Atlanta drawn this much attention.
It took more than 100 firefighters to contain the four-alarm blaze that scorched the backlot screetscape at Tyler Perry Studios. "The 34th St." set, named after the miraculous Christmas movie/ode to crass consumerism, caught fire shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday.
No injuries were reported and the cause of the inferno is under investigation.
Tyler Perry Studios, a 200,000 square foot production facility located in Southwest Atlanta, was established in 2006 and moved into its current home in the fall of 2008, according to the director's website.
The complex houses 5 sound stages, a post-production facility, a back lot, a 400-seat theater, a private screening room, and designated areas for entertaining and hosting events. In addition, the Washington Post reports "a chapel, dining hall, gymnasium, an art department and a post-production facility where work on TV shows such as Meet the Browns was done."
Forgive my ignorance when it come to Mr. Perry's oeuvre, but I quit after Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Talk about a kitchen sink approach to narrative structure! Perry threw in a marital melodrama, a courtroom drama, a musical number, crude sexual comedy, the blush of new love, a third-act miracle, and mixed-message reminders of what drugs can do to a family.
When it was over, I felt like a Film Tech I teacher at an end-of-semester screening. The sheer audaciousness on the part of the inexperienced filmmaker to throw every cliche our way left me mortified, but still hanging in there.
It was a circus featuring a giant man wearing a dress in the center ring. The statute of limitations ran out on drag comedy somewhere between Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater and Mel Brooks' Roger Debris in The Producers. The nicest thing to be said about Perry's female alter ego, Madea, is she's Cicely Tyson compared to Martin Lawrence's Big Momma.
The guy is a hit no matter how you cook it. Forbes reports Perry earned $130 million between May 2010 and May 2011, making him the highest-earning man in entertainment for that time period.
Part of me is envious that he he owns a 200,000 square foot production facility complete with a 400 seat movie theatre! I'm actually feeling a touch of guilt for not having seen more his films. With so many bad movies awaiting me on a near-daily basis, why have I slighted Tyler Perry?
If I can make it through Extremely Loud... and The War Horse, TP should be a breeze. Note to Elliott and Lickona: I have review dibs on Madea's Witness Protection when it opens in theaters on June 29th.
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