Film Office director suspension appeal to be heard Monday - Montgomery Alabama news.

Savannah Film Office director suspension appeal to be heard Monday

Savannah Film Services Director Jay Self Savannah Film Services Director Jay Self
City Councilman Van Johnson City Councilman Van Johnson

Savannah's Film Office is hosting a major motion picture in Savannah, but without the film office director. His future is still in doubt.  

WTOC has been following this story since it broke Wednesday morning, as news of the suspension of Jay Self broke. Self has remained silent on his possible termination as his appeal awaits.

He hasn't returned calls or texts, but people who have spoken with him say Self is waiting for his chance to defend himself to the City Manager Stephanie Cutter, who is now back in town.

She will hear his appeal on Monday, city spokesman Bret Bell told WTOC Thursday night.


A lot of speculation and rumors persist as to what caused the suspension, as "Spongebob Squarepants 2" prepares to film on Broughton Street in two weeks and on Tybee Island next week.


City officials have said there were issues which had been happening for a long time, but would not give specifics. Other sources pointed to a variety of Paramount-Spongebob related issues regarding permits and Self trying to protect the interest of local businesses. The people who have worked with Self are hoping he is given a fair chance to plead his case and save his job.


"We are having hopes that things are looked over and there is a measured response. I have all faith in the city manager and the city council that they will do what is prudent. Jay's track record speaks for itself. He's done a great job," Ruel Joyner, Downtown Business Association president and owner of 24e, told WTOC.


"We have National League of Cities here. We have Paramount Pictures filming Spongebob and everything is going as planned," said City Councilman Van Johnson. "In the end, government is larger than individuals and reality is we have the measures in place to carry forth the business of this city. Our city - we are prepared to move on."


The Savannah Chamber of Commerce also released a statement on the film office situation.


"Though the Chamber is aware of the questions surrounding Mr. Self, we view this as a City of Savannah personnel matter and it is not appropriate nor prudent for our organization to make any comments on this City of Savannah issue," said Bill Hubbard, president/CEO Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce, in a statement.

A $60 million movie is just start production, the National League of Cities conference in town and a giant elephant in the room.  

The suspension of Savannah Film Services Director Jay Self is not a topic city leaders want to talk about, or seem prepared to talk about. 

The future of Self rests solely in the hands of the city manager, Cutter. She will decide if he keeps his job or not and will hear his appeal. City Council members, even the mayor, say they don't know the details of why Self was suspended.

They will have to wait for Cutter to be briefed, which may be Friday, at the earliest.


The timing, once again, very suspect, according to some as Paramount Pictures prepares to film Spongebob. On Thursday, Mayor Edna Jackson and City Council members welcomed the NLC to Savannah for a conference on affordable housing and to spotlight Savannah.


As a whirlwind of media activity is taking place, including around the Savannah Film Office, Jackson was particularly feisty when questioning about the film office, and not about the conference. 


"I will not accept questions on that at this point. That has nothing to do with this conference. That is another press conference we will have and that will go through the city manager's office. But all I can tell you is the film office is alive and well. We will not miss a step. Other business of the city of Savannah will be handled at another time but not at this time. Thank you very much," Jackson said. 

Jackson told WTOC afterward it's a personnel issue that she has no information about. WTOC reached out to Paramount Pictures, but there is no word back from them on this situation. 

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