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'The Help's' true Southern exposure: Jackson, Miss.

August 12, 2011|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • Bryce Dallas Howard, left, Sissy Spacek and Octavia Spencer in the movie "The Help," which takes place in Jackson, Miss.
Bryce Dallas Howard, left, Sissy Spacek and Octavia Spencer in the movie… (Dale Robinette / DreamWorks…)

Jackson, Miss., doesn't seem to shrink from its past -- even a fictionalized one.

The city, of course, provides the big-screen setting for "The Help," the film released Wednesday about racial tension in the early 1960s between black maids and the young white housewives they serve. Now Jackson hopes fans of the movie and the 2009 novel on which it's based will visit the real Southern city.

"While the social climate has drastically changed, some of the places throughout the book have not," the city's tourism website says. Two self-guided driving tours, which can be downloaded from the website, pair citations from the novel with real-life places in Jackson.

The Greater Belhaven itinerary, for example, leads folks to the early home of author Kathryn Stockett (1123 Pinehurst St.) and that of her grandparents (1073 Manship St.). The downtown Jackson tour points out places in the novel such as Carter Jewelers, the state capitol and the former Robert E. Lee Hotel (now a government office building).

And there are "Help"-inspired hotel packages too.

The Fairmont Inn, which housed cast members during filming in Jackson, has a package that comes with  mint juleps, an authentic Southern dinner and a "Help" welcome basket. The basket includes playing cards and a book on bridge, old-fashioned bottled Coke and peanuts ("Coke and peanuts -- it's a Southern thing," the hotel's website says), cheese straws and a mug from the inn. Prices range from $349 to $409 a night plus tax.

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