Tourism Tuesdays October 25, 2016

  • Alabama tourism outpaces state economy
  • Governor’s Conference on Tourism raises more than $30,000 for scholarships
  • Alabama’s ‘iconic’ beachfront in Gulf Shores begins $15 million facelift
  • Historical marker honoring attorney Fred Gray unveiled in Tuskegee
  •  Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church invites public to attend services
  •  Birmingham getting closer to national park designation for Civil Rights Historic District
  • Civil rights group recognized by Tuscaloosa City Council
  • Popular Birmingham BBQ joint named one of nation’s top budget dining locations
  • Scuba divers help clean up Alabama beaches
  • Artificial reef zone expands thanks to unique partnership
  • GulfQuest welcomes tall ship America
  • Producer confirms Stephen King film production in Mobile
  • Variety reports Jennifer Lawrence will portray an Alabamian in new movie
  •  Leonardo DiCaprio to play Elvis producer Sam Phillips in new biopic
  • 2016 Welcome Center Employees Educational Retreat
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Alabama tourism outpaces state economy

By Jon Anderson, Hoover Sun, Oct. 20

The tourism industry in Alabama is growing twice as fast as the state’s general economy, state tourism director Lee Sentell told the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce today at the group’s October luncheon.

Sentell, who has been director of the Alabama Tourism Department since 2003, spoke to about 160 people at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham — The Wynfrey Hotel.

State lodging tax revenues going to the general fund have risen by 105 percent since 2003, from $24 million to $50 million, Sentell said. Meanwhile, the state’s overall general fund has grown by 47 percent since 2003 (to an estimated $1.8 billion in fiscal 2016), Sentell said.

For people who think tourism doesn’t matter, the taxes that tourism brings into the state saves the average Alabama family $405 in taxes a year, he said.

“Tourism is working for you,” he said.

Sentell praised the contributions of Aldridge Gardens CEO Tynette Lynch, calling her “an important pillar for the tourism industry in the state of Alabama.”

He also noted that some of the barbecue chains in Hoover, such as Full Moon BBQ and Jim ‘N Nick’s BBQ, are routinely on the top 10 lists of barbecue chains in the country.

The state Tourism Department promoted 2015 as the “year of barbecue,” featuring the best places to find barbecue ribs, pulled pork and chicken and the best barbecue festivals around the state. The campaign won a national tourism award.

“Birmingham is the hub of good barbecue for the whole country,” he said.

Sentell said when he became tourism director, he kept hearing from people in Birmingham that they weren’t getting any attention from tourism officials because there is no beach, battleship or rockets in Birmingham.

So he decided to change the conversation and created the “Year of Alabama Food” campaign, featuring the best places for country cooking, barbecue, fine dining and seafood.

As part of that campaign, the tourism department created a brochure of “100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die.” A TV commercial included four restaurants in Birmingham and three in Tuscaloosa, he said.

A travel writer from the Atlanta Journal Constitution took the brochure and toured the state to sample 100 Alabama dishes in a week. He published a series that “went on and on” about the food offerings in Alabama.

“He said Birmingham has the kind of restaurants Atlanta wishes it had,” Sentell said.

Sentell also praised the Barber Motorsports Museum in Birmingham. “It’s the only place in the world where you can see a thousand different motorcycles in display,” Sentell said. “What George (Barber) has done there is just phenomenal.”

The tourism director also noted that Alabama will kick off its bicentennial celebration in March 2017 in Mobile. The celebration will last three years because Alabama was a territory from 2017 to 2019, and it will conclude in 2019 in a part of downtown Huntsville where the state’s constitution was written.

He recommended two books that will be highlighted as part of the three-year focus: “100 Things You Should Know about Alabama” by Randall Williams and “Alabama: The Making of an American State” by Ed Bridges.

To read this article online, go to:


Governor’s Conference on Tourism raises more than $30,000 for scholarships

More than $30,000 was raised for college scholarships during this year’s silent auction at the Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism. Local tourism organizations and industry partners from across the state donated items for the silent auction including hotel stays, spa trips, gift baskets, Alabama made products and media advertising packages.

The Tourism Industry Scholarship program has raised more than $250,000 over the last 35 years     for students enrolled in hospitality programs at state colleges and universities.  Schools represented this year included the University of Alabama, Auburn University, University of South Alabama, Faulkner State Community College and Jefferson State Community College.

The Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism was held April 21-23 at the Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach.  The three-day educational conference was attended by more than 300 tourism professionals from across the state.  Highlights included an update from state tourism director Lee Sentell on the marketing campaigns of the Alabama Tourism Department and a discussion with Alabama Bicentennial Commission Executive Director Jay Lamar on plans to celebrate the state’s upcoming bicentennial.  The Intermark Group made a presentation on the latest state promotional campaigns and legislative updates were given by Johnny and Kim Adams.

Speakers at the conference included Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein, Alabama Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee, marketing consultant Bill Geist, tourism expert Darienne Mobley, Southern Living chef Robby Melvin and restaurateur Lucy Buffett.  Nisa Miranda with the University of Alabama shared plans for the Gulf State Park, Back Forty Beer Company owner Jason Wilson spoke on the state’s craft beer industry and there was a special panel discussion on social media marketing.

Survey comments from conference attendees included:
“Great education sessions.  Very pertinent to our industry and the updates were timely and informative.”

“Information was relevant, guest speakers did an outstanding job and the direction the Alabama Tourism Department is going with marketing the state is first class.”

“Very well done overall! The networking was my favorite part.”

“Excellent management of the overall conference, speakers were super and timing of everything was great.  Didn’t waste anyone’s time as it was jam packed”

Upcoming Conference Dates and Locations:
The 2017 Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism will be held Aug. 19-22 in Birmingham at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (Sheraton Westin Uptown).

The 2018 conference will be Aug. 18-21 in Montgomery at the Renaissance Hotel & Spa.

The 2019 conference will be Aug. 17-20 in Huntsville at the Embassy Suites Hotel & Spa.


Alabama’s ‘iconic’ beachfront in Gulf Shores begins $15 million facelift

By John Sharp,, Oct. 21

Alabama’s most visible public beachfront serves as an “iconic” stretch for the city of Gulf Shores. But the hub for shopping, dining, festivals, sightseeing and sand can be difficult to navigate for pedestrians and cyclists.

In an effort to make the half-mile of public beach safer and accessible, the city is investing $15 million into a three-phase project that will add a boardwalk and wider sidewalks.

The city also plans to recreate a park-like setting along the stretch, which serves a main entry point for visitors.

“It’s probably the most traveled place in the state, if you think about it,” said Grant Brown, spokesman with the city of Gulf Shores. “A lot of folks end up there are some point.”

Annual events held at the public beach attract over 350,000 visitors and generate an estimated regional economic impact over $100 million.

“There is a lot of foot traffic,” said Gulf Shores City Councilman Steve Jones.

The first phase of the new project is set to begin Nov. 7 with an estimated completion date set for May 6, 2017. The $4.5 million first phase starts on the project’s western-most edge. New landscaping, expanded parking, renovated restrooms, new seats and shade structures and a new beach safety headquarters are included.

Also, the city will begin construction of the 20-foot-wide beachfront boardwalk that will ultimately stretch east past Phoenix All Suites condominiums. Portions of that area have been closed to the public since September.

The second phase, which encompasses the area that includes The Hangout and the main public beachfront, is targeted to begin after next October’s National Shrimp Festival. That portion of the project will be completed by April 2018.

Brown said the third phase, on the project’s eastern-most side, still needs permit approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He said the city anticipates construction beginning next fall.

“The worst-case scenario (is for the project to take) three years,” Brown said. “We may be able to do the center phase and the eastern phase at the same time.”

The overall project is similar to a concept that the public first saw in April during two public hearings. Public comments that the city received from residents were mostly positive, Brown said.

The city of Gulf Shores is leading efforts to redesign its Beach Boulevard area to make it more pedestrian friendly and easily accessible to visitors.

“Most of the people recognize the importance of that area,” he said. “This is an economic development project. There is a lot of undeveloped property to create the atmosphere of a walking district.”

But there were some concerns, namely the prospects of having the city’s investment prone to hurricane or storm surge damage.

Jones, at the time, expressed skepticism about investing city General Fund money into a project that could be wiped out by a major storm. But this past week, Jones said that his fears dissipated over the summer after learning more about the project and how it would be constructed.

“I think the design will lend itself to be more resilient … the beach safety building will be elevated. I don’t see it being that much of a difference with a (storm) cleanup,” Jones said.

Meanwhile, the city and the Alabama Department of Transportation are working on plans for some upgrades to West Beach Boulevard. Those include a center median, bike lane and wider sidewalks. A cost estimate for that project is yet to be determined, but it is slated to begin in the fall of 2017.

Gulf Shores, along with Orange Beach, remain Alabama’s top tourism draws and anchor the recent record-breaking annual surge in activity. Lee Sentell, the director of the Alabama Tourism Department, said the beaches are the magnet that draws 5 to 6 million people annually through the rest of Alabama.

“This revitalization guarantees that arrivals will enjoy the pristine beaches they expect,” Sentell said. “This is a lot of money that is well spent.”

To read this article online, go to:



Historical marker honoring attorney Fred Gray unveiled in Tuskegee

By Rosanna Smith, WSFA 12 News, Oct. 19

Civil Rights attorney Fred Gray was honored in Macon County Wednesday.

“This is an important honor for me. It is good people recognize me, but I didn’t ever do this thinking about that,” Gray said. 

Gray is known for litigating several major civil rights cases in Alabama, including some that reached the United States Supreme Court for rulings.

He worked with Martin Luther King Jr., and E.D. Nixon, defended Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks, and represented the Montgomery Improvement Association during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

“I was the vehicle that was used by the plaintiffs in these lawsuits. They were not thinking about a movement. They were not thinking about publicity. They wanted to solve the problem,” Gray said.

Just feet from the building where his first law office was housed, a historical marker was unveiled in Tuskegee.

“The voting rights case, the syphilis case, the right to serve on juries – all of those cases were filed right here in this county and in federal court in Montgomery. The people need to know it,” Gray said.

At age 85, Gray is still practicing law. He currently has a law office in downtown Tuskegee and one in Montgomery.

The city of Tuskegee, the Tuskegee History Center and the Alabama Tourism Department worked together for this project. 

To read this article online, go to:


Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church invites public to attend services
By Alvin Benn, Montgomery Advertiser, Oct. 22

One of Montgomery’s most historic churches opened its doors to visitors Saturday with the minister crediting previous leaders as well as a “higher power” with helping to make it famous.

Pastor Cromwell Handy said the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. put Dexter Avenue Baptist Church on the national map when he arrived to assume control in 1954.

It might not have happened if church leaders hadn’t made the ministerial selection it did in the first place, said Handy “because they had no idea that this guy by the name of Martin Luther King Jr. was going to be what he wound up being.”

“It was by God’s divine providence that (King) was brought to this church,” said Handy, during comments at the welcoming ceremony in which he said “We have a legacy (but) not of our own doing.”

Whatever the reason, the church has continued to play a major role in Montgomery’s religious community years after King returned home to Atlanta to lead the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Historian Richard Bailey was among one of the first to arrive at the church and made it clear that it deserves recognition for what it accomplished in the civil rights movement.

“People who learn about what this church did to further the drive for equal rights are amazed by what they discover,” he said. “It’s like that anywhere you go in this country.”

Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department, was on hand to take part in a program honoring those named “legends” by the congregation.

Sentell also said the church is one of three houses of worship in Alabama that may be in line one day of a major national award.

He said the National Park Service selected the church for possible consideration on a list of world heritage sites.

Sentell said two Birmingham churches, including the 16th Baptist Church, “form the nucleus of a future program to nominate several civil rights landmarks.”

Handy called his church “ground zero” of the modern civil rights movement and said much of the racial progress in America can be traced to Montgomery’s initial efforts during the mid-1950s.

He ended his comments a few minutes later with a reminder of an important upcoming event.

“I hope everybody remembers to vote,” he said, without having to remind them about racial inequities that once kept black citizens from casting ballots in Alabama and other southern states. “People died for that right.”

Founded in what once was a slave trader’s pen 12 years after the end of the Civil War, Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church evolved from the “Brick-a-Day” First Baptist Church on Jan. 30, 1879.

Church trustees bought a lot on the corner of Dexter Avenue and Decatur Street for $270, and it became the site of the current red brick building not far from Alabama’s Capitol.

Originally named the “Second Colored Baptist Church,” it was changed once and then renamed the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in honor of King’s leadership.

The church has been a meeting place for civic, educational and religious groups during its long history of community service and activism.

Its most famous use was as a meeting place for leaders of the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott, a successful social protest movement that lasted more than a year in 1956 under King’s leadership.

King guided the church for six years from 1954 to 1960 when he and his family moved to his birthplace of Atlanta where the SCLC had established its national headquarters.

Ten years after King’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, the historic edifice was renamed again with the slain civil rights leader’s name prominently displayed.

In 1974, the church was designated as a national historic landmark and, two years later, added to Montgomery’s list of historic sites.

The Dexter Parsonage Museum was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. It was restored in 2003.

To read this article online, go to:


Birmingham getting closer to national park designation for Civil Rights Historic District

By Erin Edgemon,, Oct. 21

The city of Birmingham is now seeking public input in its effort to have the Civil Rights Historic District named a national historical park.

A public meeting is set for Thursday, Oct. 27 at 16th Street Baptist Church at 1530 6th Ave. North. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and the meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis will be in attendance.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign a proclamation designating the Birmingham’s Civil Rights Historic District as a national historical park before he leaves office.

“This historical designation as a national park will help us tell, not only the story of our past, but the story of our present and the story of our future as well,” Birmingham Mayor William Bell said.

During the public meeting, Sewell and Bell will discuss the plan for the creation of a national historical park to preserve and interpret the places where significant events in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s occurred in Birmingham.

Sewell introduced legislation in March 2016 that would create the national historical park.

More than 50 years after the Civil Rights Movement, the designation of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Historical Park would recognize critical places and events in the city as a turning point in American history, according to the city of Birmingham. Activists like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Sr., and countless unnamed heroes gathered in Birmingham to demand equality for all people.

Bell said the city has set aside $10 million for the restoration of the A.G. Gaston Motel, which played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement. The motel was the headquarters for King during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. He held press conferences there, part of the “I Have a Dream” speech was written there and the planning for the march on Washington took place there.

A portion of the restored facility will be used as archival space for the Civil Rights Institute, he said.

Following the national park designation, the Civil Rights Historic District will be staffed by park rangers and receive federal funding.

The proposed national historical park would span portions of the Birmingham Civil Rights Historic District and include the following sites:

– 16th Street Baptist Church, target of September 1963 bombing that killed four young girls during a Bible study. This act of domestic terrorism became a galvanizing force for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

– Bethel Baptist Church, the church of Rev. Shuttlesworth. The church, its parishioners and leadership played pivotal roles in the battle for equality in Birmingham, including the 1961 Freedom Ride and the “Project C” protests that challenged segregation in Birmingham in 1963.

– A.G. Gaston Motel, built in 1954 and owned by a prominent black businessman, served as home base for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and “Project C” (C for confrontation). The National Trust for Historic Preservation named it to its portfolio of National Treasures almost a year ago.

– Kelly Ingram Park, where protesters were violently disrupted by police dogs and powerful water cannons. Images of the brutal police response to peaceful protesters spread across the country, shocking the conscience of the nation and the world.

– Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which opened in 1992 as a center for the public and scholars to examine our country’s Civil Rights history as well as broader subjects such as equality and race.

To read this article online, go to:


Popular Birmingham BBQ joint named one of nation’s top budget dining locations

By Ty West, Birmingham Business Journal, Oct. 19

Saw’s Soul Kitchen has been named one of the nation’s best places for budget dining.

That’s according to a new ranking from TripAdvisor, which compiled a list of the 10 best spots for eating on a budget in the U.S.

The popular Avondale eatery, which was one of the early eateries that helped pave the way for the neighborhood’s recent growth, checked in at No. 10 on the list.

Saw’s also topped our List of Birmingham’s Most Popular Barbecue Joints.

To read this article online, go to:


Scuba divers help clean up Alabama beaches

By Alexa Knowles, Fox 10 News, Oct. 22

Scuba divers turned their hobby into community service Saturday morning in Gulf Shores. The project called Dive Against Debris was all in an effort to keep the beaches clean.

Some divers came from hundreds of miles away. There was a dive group from Illinois, for instance, that had been looking to do a unique clean-up dive. That led them to the Gulf Coast.

Their mission: to save wildlife.

“Turtles and other wildlife will eat it not knowing that it’s trash,” said Kathy Effan, one of the divers from the Illinois group. “They’ll think it’s food, and so it’s harmful for them. So it’s very important to get this all cleaned up.”

Others are cleaning up their own community, to send a message. 

Mark Bolinger, who lives in Orange Beach, said, “If we can lay this stuff out and take some photos, and let people see a picture of that, it can really make a difference.”

The cleanup site spanned about two and a half miles, and divers removed as much garbage and unnatural debris as they could find. 

They’re making the water safer for people and wildlife, and they hope it stays that way.

This is the first year the event was held along the gulf coast. It was a partnership with Project Aware and the Gulf Shores Police Department.

To read this article online, go to:



Artificial reef zone expands thanks to unique partnership

By J. Mark Bryant, Lagniappe, Oct. 19

The waters of the northern Gulf Coast are renowned among anglers for bountiful catches, one of the reasons the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo is the largest fishing tournament in the world.

One of the key components is the vast artificial reef zone that has been building since the 1950s. According to a news release from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the latest contribution took place last month about 25 miles south of the Sand Island Lighthouse at a depth of approximately 120 feet.

Alabama Power provided two boilers that had been removed from service at plants in Mobile and Washington counties. Cooper/T. Smith Corp. provided the barge that carried the boilers to the site. Helping to pull all of this together was the Alabama Wildlife Federation and the Alabama Marine Resources Division.

“One thing I’m so excited about with this Alabama Power reef project is that it just shows that the more we’re involved with the community, community leaders and business leaders, there are a lot of great things we can do as partners,” Marine resources director Chris Blankenship said.

“Tim Gothard with the Alabama Wildlife Federation and Matt Bowden with Alabama Power are the ones who reached out to us with this idea. Then it grew with the work with Angus Cooper and Cooper/T. Smith. They had a barge that had neared the end of its useful life, and we needed a barge to transport the material to the deployment site.”

Blankenship continued: “I think there are a lot of opportunities out there to get companies to rethink the ways they’ve always dealt with materials that have reached the end of their service life. The more we get involved with these organizations and companies, the more we can show them there are other opportunities to partner together. It’s good for the companies and good for the marine habitat. That’s why we think it’s important to get the word out about this project, because it can show what we can do with other private companies. I also hope this is a long relationship with Alabama Power as they continue to provide service for their ratepayers and, at the same time, enhance the environment.”

According to the DCNR website (, Alabama has the largest artificial reef system in the United States. It began with 250 car bodies being placed in the Gulf waters in 1953.

In the latest deposit, the boilers are about 18 feet tall, 40 feet long and weigh about 100 tons each. The barge is 195 feet long. The Alabama Power reef was deployed near the 70-foot Offshore Supply Boat Reef to provide additional habitat for species that anglers can target outside of the short red snapper season.

“A reef this size would take at least a dozen of our super pyramids,” Craig Newton, MRD artificial reefs coordinator, said about smaller contributions. “So this reef is a big cost savings for our artificial reef program. Alabama Power is experiencing cost savings as well because they don’t have to hire skilled personnel to disassemble the boilers and salvage them.”

Newton expects red snapper to inhabit the reefs within days, with mangrove (gray) snapper to soon follow. By the time the next fishing season opens on New Year’s Day, he said, anglers could find amberjack at the end of their hook as well as vermilion snapper and triggerfish.

“The more diversified we can make the reef program, the more ecologically sound and more stable the reef system will be,” Newton said. “The size of this reef will make it better suited to handle storm events and other stresses that might happen.”

To read this article online, go to: www.artificial-reef-zone-expands-thanks-unique-partnership



GulfQuest welcomes tall ship America

On November 4-8, GulfQuest/National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico will host the Schooner America, a replica of the racing yacht that won the first America’s Cup sailing competition in 1851. This will be the longest stop on the America’s tour along the Gulf Coast to promote the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda.

The 139-foot ship arrives on Nov. 4 at approximately 7:30 a.m., and will depart the morning of Nov. 9. Following a news conference on Nov. 4 at 10 a.m., during which Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson will issue a proclamation to Captain Troy Sears on behalf of the City of Mobile, the ship will be open to the public for dockside tours. (See the complete schedule here.

“This is such a big honor for GulfQuest, and for the City of Mobile,” Tony Zodrow, GulfQuest Executive Director, said. “This has been in the works since last fall, when a scouting crew for the America’s Cup visited GulfQuest and selected the museum as a stop on the yacht’s tour. We are thrilled to host the America and provide the Maritime Museum’s visitors, members, and students with the opportunity to tour and sail on this historic racing yacht.”

GulfQuest will host the ship for five days, and has scheduled a full roster of events for the general public and for GulfQuest members only. The America’s captain, Troy Sears, will also visit area yacht clubs where he will give presentations on the storied history of the America’s Cup and an inside look at what to expect for America’s Cup 35 in Bermuda.

The original America put yachting on the map and is the world’s most famous racing yacht. In 1851, the America won the Royal Yacht Squadrons’ 100 Guinea Cup given to the winner of a race around the Isle of Wight. The winners, members of the New York Yacht Club, donated the trophy to the club, to be held as a “challenger” trophy. Thus was born the America’s Cup, named after the boat.

During the America’s visit to GulfQuest, the public is invited to tour the ship dockside, or take a rare journey onboard during afternoon/evening sails. Dockside tour tickets, which include access to the America and to GulfQuest, are $21 for adults 18-64, $20 for ages 13-17 and seniors 65-plus, and $18 for children ages five-12. Children under age five are free with paid adult admission. GulfQuest members pay only $6 per person. Reservations are not required for the dockside tours.

The afternoon/evening sails are $85 person for adults and $42.50 for children 17 and under, and require a reservation, as space is limited. To book a reservation for one of the sailing excursions, visit

For GulfQuest members, Captain Sears will give a multimedia presentation on Friday, Nov. 4, titled “Past, Present and Future of the America’s Cup.” This robust presentation covers the oldest competition in sports, including the use of multi-hulls, the venue selection of Bermuda, an overview of the Cup’s history, and a chance to relive the dramatic comeback of America’s Cup 34.

Additionally, Captain Sears will give two STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) talks to area students during the ship’s docking at GulfQuest.

A full schedule of events is available at



Producer confirms Stephen King film production in Mobile

By Jared Boyd,, Oct. 18

Downtown Mobile is in for a fright greater than even the best Halloween revelers could muster, as the district will play home to the set of a Stephen King novel’s film adaptation.

Executive Producer D. Scott Lumpkin, a Fairhope resident, confirms the project will be shot “90-percent in downtown Mobile.”

The film, Gerald’s Game, is based on the 1992 novel of the same name, written by King about a couple whose vacation turns into a nightmare after flirty fun turns into tragedy. The titular character dies at the hands of his wife, while tied to a bed.

“We are shooting Gerald’s Game entirely in Alabama. From last week through the middle of November,” Lumpkin, says via e-mail.

Bruce Greenwood stars in the film as Gerald Burlingame, alongside Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas, Carel Struycken and Kate Siegel. Siegel, along with her husband and director of the film, Mike Flanagan, are no stranger to Coastal Alabama. Siegel stars in Flanagan’s 2016 film Hush, filmed in Fairhope.

“This is our fourth film here at home in Alabama with this producer-director team. Oculus, Before I Wake, Hush and now this one,” Lumpkin says.

Before I Wake is still awaiting release from Relativity Productions. Lumpkin notes that Hush is enjoying an impressive run on Netflix.

Flanagan’s most recent work, a Michael Bay-produced thriller “Ouija: Origin of Evil”, makes its theatrical release October 21.

“We are so happy to be working at home finally. My last film had me out of town for nearly 11 months,” Lumpkin says. “It was a Jackie Chan film called The Foreigner, which we shot in London, Ireland and China.”

Gerald’s Game is scheduled to forego a release in theaters, instead debuting as a Netflix Original.

From Kathy Faulk:  Sorry, meant to note that Henry Thomas (ET) who played Hank Williams in “The Last Ride” is starring

To read this article online, go to:



Variety reports Jennifer Lawrence will portray an Alabamian in new movie

By Justin Kroll, Variety, Oct. 21

Jennifer Lawrence will star in a biopic about famous Jazz Age socialite Zelda Fitzgerald.

Ron Howard is developing “Zelda” as a possible directing vehicle. Lawrence will be re-teaming with “Hunger Games” exec Allison Shearmur, who’s on board to produce the film. The pic follows Fitzgerald, who after marrying famed author F. Scott Fitzgerald, tries to find her own voice in the jazz music scene as her husband rises through the ranks of great American novelists.

To read this article online, go to:



Leonardo DiCaprio to play Elvis producer Sam Phillips in new biopic

By Sheldon Pearce,, Oct. 21

The film is co-produced by Mick Jagger

Leonardo DiCaprio will play producer Sam Phillips in a new Paramount Pictures film based on Peter Guralnick’s book Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘N’ Roll, according to Deadline. Phillips helped forge the sound of early rock music and launched the career of Elvis Presley.  He also produced for other rock greats like Johnny Cash, Ike Turner, Howlin’ Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, and more.  The film will be developed by DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson’s Appian Way, and its producers include Mick Jagger, Victoria Pearman, Steve Bing, Ian Montone, Rick Yorn and Guralnick.  There’s no timetable for its release.

Read an excerpt of Guralnick’s Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘N’ Roll on the Pitch.

To read this article online, go to:



2016 Welcome Center Employees Educational Retreat

Registration continues for the 2016 Welcome Center Employees Educational Retreat at the Sheraton in downtown Birmingham.  The event includes a new format.  Welcome Center employees will engage in a speed dating type set up similar to National Tour Association and Travel South.  Industry partners will be stationary and get one on one time with each center and their employees. 

Dates for the retreat are Nov. 13-15.  

For registration forms, schedule of events and hotel information contact Patti Culp at: OR 334-271-0050.  

Sponsorships are still available. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to showcase your community with the devoted staff members who welcome our visitors to Sweet Home Alabama. 



Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Nov. 13 – 15                           Welcome Center Retreat                                Birmingham



Tourism Tuesdays is a free electronic newsletter produced by the Alabama Tourism Department. It contains news about the state tourism department and the Alabama tourism industry.

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Alabama Tourism Department