Midway native Mark McCullough intends to keep a TV show he’s developed based on his late father’s remarkable life free of “ridiculous stereotypes.”
“The main thing is, I want it to ring true,” McCullough said of his series, dubbed “Double Wide Blues.”
McCullough’s dad, Bloomingdale resident William “Freddie” McCullough, died on Sept. 11. The humorous and irreverent obituary Mark McCullough wrote to honor his father ran in print Sept. 14. To the younger McCullough’s surprise, the obit went viral, reaping 150,000 web hits the first two days it appeared online.
McCullough, the executive producer of Fort Argyle Films, said his father lived in a trailer park when he was young, and the writer/producer has hinged many of the fledgling TV show’s characters on people in his dad’s life. He added the show’s treatment is detailed and honest, depicting his dad’s flaws as well as his attributes, and he said his father was not bothered by it. The show will be shot in a documentary style.
McCullough said he previously shot a film based on Freddie’s life and collaborated with his father on “Double Wide Blues” a year before Freddie’s death.
McCullough is the oldest of Freddie’s six children. McCullough’s father was married three times. His parents married young; his father was 18 and his mother, Joann Livingston, was just 16, he said. The writer/producer lived with his mother and spent weekends and summers with his dad. He attended Bradwell Institute in Hinesville and Mercer University in Macon. McCullough also went to law school at American University in Washington, D.C., but later left the legal profession to pursue writing and producing. He changed career paths after surviving a serious car accident in Nicaragua, he said.
“Dad lived a lot in 61 years,” McCullough said. The writer/producer said he didn’t include his father’s age in the actual obituary because “Dad didn’t tell his age.”
Mark McCullough grabbed readers’ attention when he began his father’s obituary with the words, “The man. The myth. The legend. Men wanted to be him, and women wanted to be with him.”
McCullough depicted his father’s likes and dislikes and free-spirited lifestyle throughout the unusual tribute.
“Freddie loved deep-fried Southern food smothered in cane syrup, fishing at Santee Cooper Lake, Little Debbie cakes, ‘Two and a Half Men,’ beautiful women, Reese’s cups and Jim Beam. Not necessarily in that order. He hated vegetables and hypocrites. Not necessarily in that order,” McCullough wrote.
Still, McCullough said his father was not “flaky,” though he led a full and fun-loving life.
“He was soft-spoken, charming — a real Southern gentleman,” McCullough said. “He just lived his life the way he wanted to live it. At the funeral, my mom said she didn’t know anyone who didn’t like my father.”
Freddie was “a master craftsman” who built his own cedar-lined house and laid floor coverings for a living, according to McCullough.
“When you walk around the house, you can feel him there,” he said.
“Dad was always absolutely supportive,” McCullough added. “My dad always told us to follow our dreams. He let all his kids make their own decisions.”
After McCullough left Georgia for Los Angeles, he kept in contact with his father. They spoke on the phone at least four times a week, and McCullough would visit his dad in the Savannah area at least four times a year. He even named his company, Fort Argyle Films, for the street his dad lived on and a Revolutionary War fort near the Ogeechee River.
The writer/producer recently relocated to the area, opened a production office in Savannah and plans to shoot all of Fort Argyle Films’ future productions in Liberty, Effingham and Chatham counties.
“We just couldn’t make L.A. look like rural Georgia,” he said. McCullough added that Georgia also offers filmmakers a 30 percent tax incentive, which means he can get $300,000 back on a $1 million film budget.
His partner, Alexis Nelson, will continue to handle financing and project packaging in Los Angeles, he said.
McCullough said they’ve shot about 90 minutes of scenes to show network executives, and are finalizing negotiations with a large production company in L.A.
He believes the show will interest two types of viewers: those who can relate to the characters on “Double Wide Blues,” and those who don’t know people like these, “but want a glimpse into their world.”