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Locals who attended NYC premiere wowed by local scenes in movie

(Illustration by Ben Hillyer/The Natchez Democrat)
(Illustration by Ben Hillyer/The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — David Paradise had a difficult time keeping his seat Monday night at the Apollo Theater in New York City.

“I kept wanting to jump up and tell everyone, ‘I know where that is’ or ‘I know who that is,’” the Natchez native said.

Paradise attended the first showing of the James Brown biographical movie, of which large parts were filmed in Natchez.

“It’s just wall-to-wall Natchez,” Paradise said. “Natchez is prominently on display, and it was just great to see.”

And it was great to see so many people appreciating a film that was filmed completely in Mississippi, Paradise said.

The film focuses on the life of the Godfather of Soul from age 5 to 60. It was directed by Mississippian Tate Taylor, who also directed “The Help.”

Paradise said Taylor, along with executive producers Mick Jagger and Brian Grazer, gave a short speech before the movie showing to an audience filled with celebrities including Martha Stewart, Al Roker and Al Sharpton.

“It was great to see hometown favorite Tate Taylor up there,” Paradise said. “I told him I was going to claim him for Natchez, but he considers himself a resident of our area now.”

Paradise said he couldn’t help but think during the premiere about how the work by everyone in Natchez had paid off.

“I know half of Natchez was blocked off when they were here, and it inconvenienced some people, but just to see it up there was terrific,” Paradise said. “I think it speaks well of our town, and I hope we get to do some more movies like that here.”

Taylor, who lives in Church Hill, praised Paradise before filming for the movie began saying Paradise got the ball rolling on the entire project and helped make it possible for crews to film in Natchez.

Taylor even gave Paradise the title “stratospheric executive producer” for his work in making the movie happen.

Paradise said he was happy to help and would be more than pleased to see more films come to the area.

“I understand there might a few projects in the works, and I think Tate is committed to this area,” Paradise said. “If it’s up to him, he’ll have them all done here.”

Natchez residents Doug and Regina Charboneau were the only other locals to also attend the NYC premiere.

Regina Charboneau said she enjoyed catching up with all the cast and crew members she met during the filming.

“They all just still have such fond memories of Natchez,” Regina said. “I think it really says a lot about Natchez and their experience here.

“We opened our hearts and our homes to these people, and I think that’s exactly what we do best. Everybody who worked on the movie is so incredibly proud of it and that really says a lot about Natchez and their experience here.”

Charboneau will host Taylor and Chadwick Boseman, who portrays Brown in the film, at her house, Twin Oaks, Saturday before a showing of the movie at the Natchez Mall theater.

A pre-premiere party, as well as the showing, is being hosted to benefit the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society.

Charboneau said she was thrilled to attend the premiere in New York City, but was looking forward to having a showing in Natchez as well.

“The movie was phenomenal,” she said. “It shows Natchez all over the place, and it’s just great to see our town looking so good.”

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