A few different TV shows and movies have been filming in Charleston recently, and one of them premiered last Sunday to 844,000 viewers, the strongest opening for a comedy on HBO since Charleston-filmed “Vice Principals” in 2016.
"The Righteous Gemstones," the series by Danny McBride about a greedy televangelist family, has made its debut, and you might just recognize some of the Lowcountry scenes that were featured in the first episode. We watched along to see what specific places we could make out.
Send us your finds at firstname.lastname@example.org, and watch again on Sunday to see some additional locations. New episodes of "The Righteous Gemstones" air at 10 p.m. Sundays.
1. Whirlin' Waters
The baptism wave pool in the opening scene of HBO's "The Righteous Gemstones" was not, in fact, in China. It was actually located at the Whirlin' Waters Adventure Park in North Charleston, where the crew was allowed to shoot after hours. According to Danny McBride, the original scene was planned as a daytime baptism, but because the crew had to film at night, the script was switched to make it a 24-hour baptism in its 17th hour.
2. Atlantic Aviation Charleston
When the Gemstones land back in America from their mission trip overseas, they arrive on private planes (aptly named "The Father," "The Son" and "The Holy Spirit") at a place one might initially assume is the Charleston International Airport. However, the hangar and runway actually belong to a private airport nearby, Atlantic Aviation.
3. North Charleston Coliseum
It's no longer the North Charleston Coliseum. In "The Righteous Gemstones," the local entertainment venue that hosts touring musicians and hockey games has been turned into the Gemstone Salvation Center, a megachurch. During a church service, the coliseum's thousands of seats are filled with extras, while the Gemstone family patriarch, Eli (John Goodman), and his sons Jesse and Kelvin (Danny McBride and Adam DeVine), are on stage sharing about their mission trip to China.
A choir sings and a church rock band plays on the coliseum stage during the scene, while the lobby and other locations in and around the building also are shown.
4. Fenwick Hall on Johns Island
"The Compound," according to executive producer Brandon James, is actually a conglomeration of locations around the Lowcountry. It's made to look like one large property where each of the Gemstones live with their families, with mansions, extensive gardens, fountains and even a shooting range. Some of the scenery is located on Wadmalaw Island, while Eli Gemstone's main mansion with golden doors is the Fenwick Hall plantation house on Johns Island.
"We stitched it together with movie magic," James said.
5. Aviation Square Shopping Center
Did you recognize RimTyme, Leslie's Pool Supplies, At Home and U-Haul as the storefronts in the parking lot where Jesse Gemstone meets up with his blackmailers? It's the Aviation Square Shopping Center off Rivers Avenue in North Charleston.
For the lot's first appearance on screen, the devil-masked blackmailers drive a maroon van in circles around Jesse's car, the neon store signs glowing familiarly at a distance. During the lot's second appearance, siblings Jesse (Danny McBride), Kelvin (Adam DeVine) and Judy (Edi Patterson) all roll up in a white Land Rover, ready to hand over the requested $1 million in exchange for a raunchy video in which Jesse can be seen doing cocaine with prostitutes. In that scene, the scheme goes amiss, and both blackmailers meet their fates in quite the action-packed scene.
6. Former Liberty Tap Room in Mount Pleasant
After church, the Gemstones head to a restaurant that they apparently visit every Sunday, "Jason's." That restaurant, with its recognizable facade, interior decorations such as the Statue of Liberty crown art rendering, colorful stained-glass windows and beer signs, is actually the former Liberty Tap Room (before that, it was T-Bonz) in Mount Pleasant, off U.S. Highway 17 near the Chick-fil-A.
- Expect some bouncy times at a local indoor trampoline park. Points if you can name which one it is when you see it.
- There's an SCDOT cameo in a surveillance room at the SCDMV.
- Some filming took place in the Citadel Mall, and you'll see a glimpse of Dillard's and CitiTrends, among other stores, as the Gemstones wander through during future episodes.