'Army Wives' spinoff filming site up in air

Army Wives

WADE SPEES

Charleston could feature prominently in a spinoff to the highly successful, locally filmed Lifetime series "Army Wives."

Officials with ABC Studios, the show's producer, confirmed that the series "in the early stages of development" would chronicle the "Army Wives" character Pamela Moran as she returns to her former job as a police officer, this time in the Holy City.

Played by Brigid Brannagh, Moran abandoned her career as a Boston cop to focus on her family. Married to a member of the elite combat group Delta Force, she struggles with her husband's covert assignments. Lifetime teases to her departure on its website, saying the fourth season -- currently airing -- includes her "taking her kids and leaving post for an unknown destination."

ABC officials declined to say whether this show, like "Army Wives," would be filmed in Charleston.

The news comes as "Army Wives" representatives head to Columbia today for a proclamation in appreciation of the show on the state House floor. It also follows recent debate for scaling back film incentives that help keep the series local.

The state Senate approved a change to the budget that directs the state Revenue Department to transfer to the South Carolina Conservation Bank $1.5 million previously set aside for wage rebates. It also gave the go-ahead to reel back the S.C. Film Commission's incentives 15 percent for both wages and supplies.

Current incentives packages include 20 percent for South Carolina residents' wages and 30 percent for supplies purchased from in-state businesses.

The House could return the funding to the budget, but the Senate's gesture coincides with the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism staff reductions that included Film Commissioner Jeff Monks. Officials with the department wouldn't comment on specific people who were laid off, but sources within the film industry confirmed that Monks is numbered among the 19 jobs cut from the 92 workers in the Columbia office.

More than a year ago, officials with ABC Studios expressed doubt about keeping "Army Wives" in Charleston with South Carolina's film incentives under scrutiny. The company has remained silent on the matter as lawmakers rehash the incentives this session.