CLARION-LEDGER, MISSISSIPPI, TELEVISION
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‘True Blood’s’ Mississippi ties

0cf15-truebloodpremiere3A popular HBO show with Mississippi ties returns tonight. “True Blood” enters its fifth season at 9 p.m., and Jackson resident Jamie Shows, who has watched every episode, can’t wait to sink her teeth into it.

“I have several friends that watch it as well and most of our Sunday nights of ‘True Blood’ consist of texting back and forth ‘OMGs’ throughout the show,” she said. “And the fact that Season 5 kicks off on June 10, which is my 34th birthday, is ‘blood red’ icing on the cake. The return of the Vampire King of Mississippi is going to be epic.”

Mixing romance, suspense, mystery and humor, ‘True Blood’ is set in Louisiana. And, in this setting, there is no need for coffins or human blood. Vampires can co-exist with humans, thanks to the invention of mass-produced synthetic blood. The show is based on the bestselling Sookie Stackhouse series of books written by Tunica native Charlaine Harris. They were later adapted into a series by Oscar winner Alan Ball, creator of HBOs “Six Feet Under” and the film “American Beauty.”

The show has other Mississippi connections. In 2010, external shots of the Natchez mansion Longwood, the largest octagonal house in the United States, were used as the fictional Jackson, Miss., mansion of Russell Edgington, the Vampire King of Mississippi. Jackson resident Stephanie Terrell became a Sookie Stackhouse fan after reading Harris’ books.

“I bought the first season when it was released a few months later and was hooked,” she said. “It’s a cliffhanger at the end of every episode – something new and exciting. I love the development of the characters, and nothing ever feels old. This season is going to be awesome.”

Madison resident W. Meshell McAfee also loves the taste of “True Blood.”

“I post on my Facebook status the countdown before the airing on each show,” she said. “I also join in on discussions on the ‘True Blood’ fan page on Facebook.”

Jackson resident Willie Demus has been a fan of vampires since she was small.

“As a kid, I was scared to sleep by a window after watching them,” she laughed. “I think ‘True Blood’ has a great cast who inject life into the characters.”

Jackson native Erina Lewis has seen every “True Blood” episode and read most of the Sookie Stackhouse books. She appreciates the Southern connections.

“I really like the scenery being in the South,” she said. “However, that makes me a harsh critic on some of the terrible accents. I’m familiar with Louisiana and Mississippi culture, so it’s nice watching some of our Southern traditions. However, some representations make me cringe. It helps somewhat that the books were written by a Southern woman.”

Lewis is awaiting the Vampire King of Mississippi’s return.

“At least the King of Mississippi is not in overalls and a straw hat,” she said. “He represents Southern ‘class’ (other than the gore part) and charm (in Vampire terms) that doesn’t touch on some of our less favorable local history. Though I’m guessing he won’t be putting on airs this season and is out for some bloody revenge.”

Lewis said she hopes more “True Blood” filming will happen in Mississippi since Jackson has been part of the storyline.

“I know there is a hope for more filming to occur in the future here with our beautiful landscapes and quaint settings,” she said. “It’s nice seeing the story played out in a small Southern town that’s a tight-knit community setting … Maybe being from Mississippi helped push a little Southern hospitality in (Sookie’s) character.”

Main characters

The series follows waitress and part-faerie Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), who can hear people’s thoughts, vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) and vampire Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard).

Returning characters

•Ryan Kwanten as Sookie’s trouble-prone brother, Jason Stackhouse
•Rutina Wesley as her best friend, Tara Thornton
•Sam Trammell as Sookie’s shape-shifting boss, Sam Merlotte
•Nelsan Ellis as Tara’s clairvoyant, sharp-tongued cousin, Lafayette Reynolds
•Chris Bauer as Sheriff Andy Bellefleur
•Carrie Preston as Arlene Fowler, a Merlotte’s waitress
•Todd Lowe as Andy’s cousin, Terry Bellefleur
•Jim Parrack as Hoyt Fortenberry
•Deborah Ann Woll as Jessica Hamby, Bill’s vampire progeny
•Kristin Bauer van Straten as Pam, Eric’s vampire progeny and business partner
•Joe Manganiello as werewolf Alcide
•Lauren Bowles as Holly, a Merlotte’s waitress
•Denis O’Hare as the newly resurfaced Russell Edgington, the Vampire King of Mississippi
•Michael McMillian as recently turned vampire Steve Newlin
•Janina Gavankar as shape-shifter Luna

New characters

•Scott Foley as Patrick Devins, an Iraq war veteran who comes to Bon Temps to track down Terry Bellefleur, his former comrade
•Christopher Meloni as Roman, the guardian of the Vampire Authority
•Valentina Cervi as Salome, a chancellor of the Vampire Authority
•Lucy Griffiths as Nora, another chancellor of the Vampire Authority

On the Web

For more on the series, visit facebook.com/trueblood and twitter.com/TrueBloodHBO #trueblood.

–LaReeca Rucker, The Clarion-Ledger.

Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker.

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