State News

October 1, 2013

City of Savannah fires director of film office

SAVANNAH — The director of Savannah’s film office was fired Monday after city officials said complaints surfaced about the production of “Spongebob 2 The Movie.”

City officials first suspended Film Services Director Jay Self without pay, and decided to fire him during an appeal hearing Monday afternoon.

Self’s boss, Joseph Shearouse, the city’s leisure services bureau chief, will assume many of Self’s duties while the city looks for a replacement, city spokesman Brett Bell said. Bell declined to comment further on the city’s decision to fire Self or the factors that led to the decision, saying city officials typically don’t speak publicly about personnel matters.

A Sept. 23 city memo obtained by WTOC-TV accuses Self of shortcomings surrounding the filming of the Spongebob sequel. It cites complaints from local businesses and others.   

“This action is as a result of your failure to properly plan and manage the arrangement for the movie ‘SpongeBob 2 The Movie,”’ Shearouse, said in a memo to Self explaining the suspension. In the memo, Shearouse referred to a meeting that he, Self and the city manager had held on July 17 to discuss the movie.

“At that time, you assured the City Manager that prior to the arrival of the movie’s production team all issues with businesses related to the movie would be resolved,” he wrote.

Then, in late August, Shearouse and Self met again.

“At that time I told you your position as Film Services Director was in jeopardy,” Shearouse said.  

After the production team arrived, the mayor and city manager received “numerous” complaints from local businesses, Shearouse said.

In a 14-page statement provided by his attorney, Self said the city’s decision to terminate him violates his constitutional right to due process because he was never given an opportunity to respond to complaints that were made against him — which Self says he neither saw nor heard before he was suspended.  

“I have given my heart and soul to establishing this office and making Savannah a film-friendly community,” Self said in the statement. “I did so over the last 18 years by building relationships in and outside of Savannah, but I also did so by ensuring that, when the movie stars and deep-pocketed film companies pack up and leave Savannah, they do so leaving Savannah in a better place.”

Ruel Joyner, president of the Downtown Business Association, was quoted by the Savannah Morning News as saying that Self has always been a good liaison between local businesses and production companies.

Filming for “SpongeBob Squarepants 2 The Movie” has already started on Tybee Island and is expected to move to downtown Savannah in the near future, Bell said.

He added that the production is expected to produce about $8 million in direct revenue for the city, and several times that amount in indirect revenue.

 

1
Text Only
State News
  • One charged in death of Dalton woman, another sought

    A Dalton woman found dead in Calhoun earlier this month is believed to have died of a drug overdose after two Calhoun residents abandoned her in a car behind the VFW on East Line Street, Lt. Tony Pyle with the Calhoun Police Department said Wednesday afternoon.

    June 18, 2014

  • Guard shot at FedEx center to undergo 14th surgery

    A security guard critically wounded when a gunman went on a rampage at a FedEx facility is scheduled to undergo his 14th operation Tuesday.

    May 27, 2014

  • Arson ruled out as cause of chemical plant fire

    Police say investigators have been able to rule out arson or foul play as the cause of a massive fire at a chemical plant outside Atlanta that spewed black smoke and flames visible for miles.

    May 27, 2014

  • Teen tied to shopping cart drowns in lake

    Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials say a teen has died after being tied to a shopping cart and pushed into Lake Allatoona.

    May 25, 2014

  • Underground tattoo artists frustrate officials

    The work of tattoo artists whose living rooms double as body art studios might come cheap, but experts say the unsterile -- and illegal -- work environments could leave clients in pain long after the initial sting of the needle subsides.

    May 25, 2014

  • No runoff lets Republicans focus on Rep. Barrow

    While Georgia Republicans have to wait until July to settle runoff races for the U.S. Senate and three open House seats, one of the biggest GOP victories in the primary elections last week went to Augusta businessman Rick W. Allen.

    May 25, 2014

  • Audit probes juvenile justice turnover rate

    A state audit cites low pay, long hours and management concerns as reasons for a relatively high turnover rate at the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.

    May 25, 2014

  • Atlanta schools ex-tech director to be sentenced

    After his relationship with the superintendent of Atlanta’s school system soured, a former technology director for the district set up a kickback scheme to pad his pockets before he left his job, according to court documents.

    May 24, 2014

  • Georgia veteran, 92, honored at surprise ceremony

    Family and friends surprised a 92-year-old World War II veteran from Georgia on Memorial Day by honoring him and presenting him with the World War II Victory Medal.

    May 24, 2014

  • Police: Massive chemical plant fire extinguished

    Authorities say a massive fire at a chemical plant outside Atlanta that spewed black smoke and flames visible for miles has been extinguished.

    May 24, 2014