By Rodney Ho
With varying levels of vicissitude, Atlanta on TV has masqueraded as modern-day Los Angeles (Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva”), Long Island (USA’s “Necessary Roughness”) and Missouri (ABC’s “Resurrection”).
AMC with its new series “Halt and Catch Fire,” debuting Sunday night, took on an even greater challenge: transforming Atlanta into a convincing Dallas, Texas – in 1983. (Credit our more generous tax credits on why AMC is here and not Texas.)
“Wrong city, wrong region, wrong era,” mused Melissa Bernstein, an executive producer. “Atlanta is a wonderful place to shoot but it’s a new city. There are not a lot of buildings from the 1970s and 1980s.”
She also had to find flat Dallas-like vistas, not an easy feat. It also took time to find a particular brick ranch home that resembled those in the Dallas suburbs. (They found one in Conyers.) And Atlanta is far more verdant than Dallas. On the bright side, most of the first season was shot during the winter. The lushness only became an issue toward the end of the shoot in March and April.
One spot that passed muster: the Plaza Theatre in Virginia-Highland, which in the pilot shows “Return of the Jedi.” (The Urban Outfitters two doors down had to be CGIed into a rug store.) An office building near the Weather Channel is used for exteriors of the headquarters.
AMC’s ‘Halt and Catch Fire’ attempts to turn Atlanta into Texas circa 1983, debuting June 1