Productions halted in Hollywood, Memphis amid pandemic; primetime series ‘Bluff City Law’ canceled

Boosting movie-making momentum in the Bluff City

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - NBC has canceled “Bluff City Law,” the show of a father-daughter civil rights law team. The announcement comes as productions in Hollywood, Memphis and across the world screeched to a halt.

The Shelby County Health Department’s latest directive issued Monday allows for filming productions to continue, but health mandates from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers must be followed.

As some film productions in Memphis are starting to get the green light to resume work, a national prime-time series that highlighted the Bluff City is getting canceled. Memphis and Shelby County Film Commissioner Linn Sitler said it’s unfortunate because “Bluff City Law” was made for these times.

Jimmy Smits bonds with Mid-Southerners while filming 'Bluff City Law'

“With the protests, with these social justice issues and the virus,” said Sitler. “I know everybody would like to see how Elijah Strait, Jimmy Smits’ character, would handle all of this.”

For many, the cancellation didn’t come as a surprise based on the hit Hollywood is taking.

“Everything came to a screeching halt,” said EDGE President Reid Dulberger.

That means the film industry in Memphis too. The Economic Development Growth Engine or EDGE in Memphis has handed out more nearly $400,000 in grants to local businesses during the pandemic including $70,000 to businesses tied to the film industry and creative economy in Memphis.

“Truthfully, it had never occurred to us that so much of Memphis’ creative economy are in these small firms located in these neighborhoods where they’re drawing the inspiration and talent of those neighborhoods,” said Dulberger.

Meet the cast of 'Bluff City Law'

Dulberger, who was instrumental in creating the incentives package to bring “Bluff City Law” to town, said talks are happening now on how to pick up Memphis’ film industry momentum ASAP.

Sitler said, with the legacy of “Bluff City Law,” the future is bright for the industry.

“We can see what a high-quality show like “Bluff City Law” means to tourism and economic impact, I’m hearing about $35 million in direct spending is the figure I’m hearing from the economists,” said Sitler.

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