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Celebrating the 75th anniversary of Gone With the Wind

One hundred and fifty years ago, during the final months of the Civil War, Lt. Gen. William T. Sherman ordered the torching of Atlanta, and much of the city was reduced to ashes. Seventy-five years later, on the evening of December 15, 1939, the city was again ablaze; searchlights swept the night sky and lit the façade of Loew’s Grand Theatre on Peachtree Street, as Atlanta welcomed the world premiere of Gone With the Wind. The three-day celebration surrounding the premiere of the Technicolor epic of love, loss and resilience, based on Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize–winning 1936 novel, was unlike anything the city had ever seen. Mayor William B. Hartsfield declared a citywide holiday, and on the night of the premiere 18,000 people gathered outside the theater hoping to catch a glimpse of the film’s stars. Former U.S. president and Georgia governor Jimmy Carter, a teenager at the time, would remember it as “the biggest event to happen in the South in my lifetime.” Like the novel, the movie became an international sensation, playing in theaters for more than two years and winning eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture­—a record at the time. In addition to the 25 million moviegoers ... Read more

Senoia in the Spotlight

Visitors to Senoia might well experience a sense of déjà vu. Indeed, many who have never before set foot in the idyllic small Southern town 25 miles south of Atlanta will find it familiar. While that feeling might owe in part to its Main Street U.S.A. charm, it’s more likely that they recognize the town from one of the 24 movies and television shows that have been shot there in as many years. The first was the 1989 Oscar-winning best picture Driving Miss Daisy, and almost every year since, a major production—from Fried Green Tomatoes and Sweet Home Alabama to Meet the Browns and Footloose—has been filmed in Senoia. “Riverwood [now Raleigh Studios] has been there a long time,” says Lee Thomas, director of the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Division. “It’s completely transformed the town.”Today, hit television series The Walking Dead and Drop Dead Diva are bringing filmmakers and fans to town. “Senoia has become a zombie mecca,” says Andrew Lincoln, who plays sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead. “I’ve become the cultural attaché for the town,” he jokes, explaining that he welcomes friends who are in the state filming movies such as The Hunger ... Read more

Zac Brown's Georgia

What are some of your favorite places in Georgia?Zac: Dahlonega, up in the North Georgia mountains, is definitely one of my favorite places. I love being up on the Chestatee River. I also love Atlanta’s Little Five Points neighborhood; it’s a real melting pot. East Atlanta is really becoming a neat place as well. I have a lot of family in Alpharetta, and that’s a pretty place, too. Out on the east side, Madison is beautiful.What are some of the most memorable family vacations or school trips that you’ve taken in Georgia?Going to Callaway Gardens and seeing the butterflies and the botanical gardens. When I was young, I remember going to Fernbank and the planetarium and Zoo Atlanta. One of my favorites is Burt’s Farm in Dawsonville. It’s a pretty colossal pumpkin farm, and I always loved Halloween and all of the fall activities, fall flavors—hot cider and pumpkin pie—and those things associated with the fall.What are some destinations that you consider must-sees for a visitor?If you’re gonna get outdoors, Amicalola Falls is a gorgeous place. The hiking is great. Also, the backside hike up Blood Mountain is definitely one of my favorites. I love ... Read more

A Georgia homecoming for Lady Antebellum

Since 2006, the year Charles Kelley, Dave Haywood and Hillary Scott came together to form Lady Antebellum, the group has dominated the country charts, garnered a trove of recording-industry and fan-favorite awards (including six Grammys) and gained an international following of fans. And while their spirited songwriting and heart-felt harmonies have won them worldwide acclaim, the trio continue to hold fast to their hometown roots. For bandmates Charles and Dave, those roots run deep in their East Georgia boyhood home of Evans, just outside Augusta.Last October, just weeks after the release of their third album, Own the Night, Lady Antebellum returned to Evans for a very special performance, which heralded the opening of the Lady Antebellum Amphitheatre. The 5,000-seat Columbia County venue is the focal point of the new Evans Towne Center Park, and the group donated proceeds from ticket sales to the John W. Kelley, M.D., Cardiovascular Endowment. (Dr. Kelley, a cardiologist and surgeon from Augusta, is Charles’s father.)Says Dave, "Twenty years later, I hope people will talk about us and say, 'They were just genuine people who made genuine music based upon their life experiences.'" It’s that combination of honesty, humility, talent and heart that endear ... Read more

A visit with Paula Deen

Celebrity cook and Georgia native Paula Deen is known nationwide for her amazing down-home cooking and her warm, welcoming approach to food. She’s the author of several successful cookbooks; the host of three Food Network television shows, including Paula’s Home Cooking; and the editor of her own magazine. What some might not know about is Paula’s deep connection to Georgia tourism. She grew up playing at River Bend, the “mini resort” her maternal grandparents operated in Albany. The property was a favorite stop for snowbirds heading south, and her parents ran a gas station and souvenir shop across the street. In 1996, Paula and her sons Jamie and Bobby opened The Lady & Sons in Savannah’s historic district. The restaurant, featuring the family’s now-famous Southern fare, quickly became a Savannah fixture and continues to welcome thousands of hungry visitors. There’s also a Paula Deen Trolley Tour, which takes visitors on a tour of Savannah sites that figure prominently in Paula’s rags-to-riches story and includes a delicious lunch at Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, the seafood restaurant Paula owns with her brother. Paula’s love of the state, its people, and its food comes through in all she does, and she’s played a ... Read more