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Storyline

Waking in Mississippi explores the power of the national media to, surprisingly, mitigate long held animosities resulting from a legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. The irony of Hollywood fabricating a race riot for the sake of A Time to Kill provides a framework for presenting the complexity of race relations in a historically troubled region. Less than a year prior to filming, National Guardsmen were alerted to the possibility of actual race rioting in the town square, during federally monitored run-off election. Using footage of the movie production, scenes from the 1996 local premiere in Jackson, film clips, and interviews with writer John Grisham, director Joel Shumacher, actor Samuel Jackson and members of the film crew, we investigate the temporary and permanent effects of Hollywood's takeover of Canton. Local residents relate their personal experiences as extras and comment on the impact of the racially charged blockbuster. We incorporate local and national media coverage of the ...

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