Caskey, Earheart, and Silver

LET'S face it. Many of the people who bring money to Savannah have been dead for years — sometimes centuries.

The designation of Savannah as America’s Most Haunted city a few years ago by a national parapsychologist was just the latest nod to the city’s ghostly history. There are many books about haunted Savannah and many more planned. Ghostly tours run along city streets at night, and customers can even travel by hearse to get their thrills and chills.

Savannahians love their ghosts, and have no desire to exorcise them. But the focus on the supernatural in Savannah may be undergoing a huge change.

On Feb. 28, a new television pilot will be premiered at The Distillery. Phantoms of History: Savannah was produced by Crissy Earheart, James Caskey and Murray Silver, who worked together on a PBS documentary, Southern Haunts.

Earheart, the executive producer, is from Nashville and has been affiliated with the Grand Ole Opry for 30 years. Silver, a fifth-generation Savannahian, is the author of Great Balls of Fire: The Uncensored Story of Jerry Lee Lewis.

Caskey is the owner and operator of Cobblestone Tours, a local company that offers both haunted walking and haunted pub tours.

“Phantoms of History is the pilot for a new television series developed for the A&E Channel,” Silver says. “Its first episode is devoted to Savannah, in an effort to give tourists a fresh reason to visit this historic city.”

While there’s no doubt Savannah’s ghosts are lucrative, the producers believe tourist interest is shifting towards an appreciation of Savannah’s history. “That a place may be haunted only seems to underscore its historic importance, and is no longer its most important aspect,” Silver says.

At the premiere, the episode will be screened and the producers will talk about the project in general and Savannah in particular. DVDs will be available at the premiere and at the Visitor’s Center, the Trolley Stop shops, the Book Gift Shop and True Grits.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil has run its course and we haven’t had a major motion picture filmed here in the past eight years,” Silver says.

“The reason given by tourists most often for coming to Savannah these days is to eat lunch with Paula Deen,” Silver says. “We hope that Phantoms of History provides a fresh reason to visit Savannah, and reminds viewers of the reasons why they were interested in the town in the first place -- her history and her natural beauty.” cs

Screening of Phantoms of History: Savannah

When: Feb. 28, 5-7pm

Where: The Distillery, 416 W. Liberty St.

Cost: Admission is free. Copies of the DVD will be available for $20.

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