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Newton County resident’s historical thriller ‘Oscarville’ debuts Friday
A scene from the series, 'Oscarville: Below the Surface,' which was filmed in 2021 and this year and based on historical accounts of the disappearance of the primarily African-American town of Oscarville which is now covered by the waters of Lake Lanier near Gainesville. (Special | Bob Mackey)

COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County resident Bob Mackey’s long-awaited series, “Oscarville: Below the Surface” is set to make its debut on a streaming service and YouTube this week.

The series uses a 1912 racial incident in Forsyth County and the numerous drownings in recent years in Lake Lanier as starting points for the series' fictional storyline.   

Mackey said the movie will be available on Redfen TV and on YouTube beginning Friday, Sept. 30.

“It’s a part of history that hasn’t been told,” he said.

Mackey, who is executive producer, said the show filmed in such areas as Porterdale throughout 2021 and earlier this year, around the schedules of its stars. 

It will have elements of horror but also seeks to bring the tragedy of Oscarville to light, Mackey said in a December story in The Covington News.

"It has a lot of supernatural elements," Mackey said. "It's not gruesome horror."

He said he wanted the series to give viewers a glimpse into one of the dark parts of segregation-era Georgia — a white mob's destruction of a once-prosperous majority Black town in 1912 — as well as weaving in a growing urban legend about the lake's allegedly deadly nature.

"Oscarville is history," Mackey said. "We can't hide it."

Mackey said he was able to create the series because of six "angel investors from across Georgia who were inspired by the story of Oscarille and my vision of bringing the story to life."

"They provided either financial or in-kind support," he said.

Stevie Baggs, who also is in the Tyler Perry series "Ruthless" on BET+ and the Netflix series "Cobra Kai," portrays main character "Coop" Cooper. 

Kenisha Johnson, who appeared in the 2020 movie "Inheritance" and the TV series "Murder Decoded," portrays Coop's estranged wife.

Drew Giles and Kay Nicole also play major roles.  

Two Newton County residents, Misty Ellington and Bill Watts, also are in the cast.

Ellington portrays Agent Howard, a police detective "who continues to make rookie mistakes." Watts plays Sheriff Ted Wilcott, according to online descriptions of the cast.

"A veteran law enforcement officer during the demise of Oscarville and the now sheriff, (Sheriff Wilcott) seeks to keep peace in the town.

"As deaths rise on Lake Lanier, Sheriff Wilcott comes under fire for keeping the death count low and for concealing evidence that led to the riots of Oscarville. His career is threatened and no one is safe."

Its fact-based script incorporates the numerous drowning deaths in the heavily-used lake — six have been recorded this year alone — as well as legends like the "Lady of the Lake" and ghosts upset about Lanier's waters covering gravesites.

The "Lady" legend is based in fact after two women were killed and their bodies not found for years after the vehicle in which they were traveling skidded off the side of a bridge and into Lanier's waters in 1958. The vehicle was not found until 1990. 

Meanwhile, the real-life town of Oscarville formerly existed on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in Forsyth County before Lake Lanier was created in the mid-1950s. 

Mackey said he used first-person accounts of what happened in the Oscarville area, in addition to historical facts, for the non-fiction part of the script.

The 1912 series of incidents happened at a time when racial tensions were high in northeast Georgia following some shootings between Black and white area residents. 

At the time, white residents were often able to take advantage of Black residents who were not treated equally in the judicial system and some white political figures who used the tensions to gain support.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created Lake Lanier in 1956 as a source of electric power and drinking water for the then-rapidly-growing Atlanta region by building a dam at a point on the Chattahoochee River between Cumming and Buford. Forsyth County remained all-white for decades and prompted civil rights leader Hosea Williams to lead a 1987 march on the observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday that included about 75 people. Some onlookers pelted the marchers with rocks and bottles.

Williams later led a march with 25,000 people that was protected by more than 2,000 National Guardsmen and police. Among Williams' demands to Forsyth County was the return of some Oscarville land taken from Black landowners in 1912.

Oprah Winfrey then hosted her nationally televised talk show the following month in Forsyth County. 

"It has so many points of history," Mackey said.

For a view of the show’s trailer, visit