Director Tate Taylor uses love of preservation to lift up Mississippi

Source: Mississippi Today

“I’m in beautiful Gretna, Louisiana,” Tate Taylor said, perhaps a note of satisfaction ringing over the phone. He was there directing the Southern Gothic family drama “Filthy Rich” for Fox — a show he also created — just before Christmas. Trailers looked saucy enough to give the holiday cranberries a run for their money.

What happens when a wealthy Christian televangelist dies in a plane crash, leaving behind a widow (Kim Cattrall) stunned, too, by the three illegitimate children written into his will? Tune in to see next month.

Filming in a neighboring state — just a few hours from his renovated historic home Wyolah in Mississippi’s Church Hill community — was likely a bonus, too.

Next fall marks the expected release of another close-to-home project, the feature film “Breaking News in Yuba County,” a comedy starring Allison Janney and Mila Kunis, directed by Taylor and shot in Natchez this past summer.

Taylor, a Mississippi native who’d pursued his acting and film directing career in New York City and Los Angeles, returned to home stomping grounds to direct the 2011 hit movie “The Help,” which nabbed several nominations and an Oscar for friend Octavia Spencer. In the process, he reignited an old love: old houses.

“I’ve just always loved history as a kid,” Taylor said. “When I was 11 years old, I asked to go to Williamsburg, Virginia,” to feast on the Colonial history, architecture and atmosphere.

“I always knew I was going to restore an old home. I just found this one, and it happened to be in Mississippi, which was great. And, it had a lot of acreage. One prerequisite was that you couldn’t find it on a single road and you couldn’t find it on GPS.”

Wyolah, a Church Hill plantation complex dating to the 1830s, is historically significant, for its mansion house and surviving original outbuildings, including a doctor’s office, commissary, cookhouse, former slave cabins, carriage house and more. Church Hill, near Natchez, is the state’s only National Register rural historic district.


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