Alhonna Resort and Marina is a 60-unit waterfront resort at Lake of the Ozarks. It offers both hotel and apartment-style lodging.
Guests can swim in the pool, rent boats or hang out at the bar.
Alhonna isn’t the most fancy or expensive resort at the lake — but it might soon become the most famous.
The owner says Alhonna helped inspire a new show coming to Netflix from Golden Globe-winning movie star Jason Bateman and the studio that made “House of Cards.”
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Shirley Gross-Russel, whose family has owned Alhonna since the 1980s, said the resort will be the setting for the TV series called “Ozark,” in which Bateman will reportedly play a money launderer.
Several show-business news outlets have reported that “Ozark” is a drama that deals with drugs and money laundering.
The reason Alhonna was picked, Gross-Russel said, is because the show’s writer — Bill Dubuque — worked as a dock hand at the resort while he was in school in the late ‘80s.
Dubuque made a name for himself in Hollywood after co-writing the 2014 movie “The Judge,” starring Robert Downey Jr. But back in his Alhonna days, he was simply known as Tall Paul’s brother.
“He was a good employee,” Gross-Russel said. “I think it’s pretty awesome that he would take his teenage experience and turn it into something.”
Although the studio won’t answer questions about the show, Gross-Russel said the filming for the show will mostly be done in the Atlanta, Ga., area, with her resort serving as the inspiration. She said the crew has constructed an Alhonna-like set in Georgia after extensively studying her property.
The bar at Alhonna — a relatively small operation with a few tables and eight stools at the counter — has been a major focus of the TV crew’s scouting efforts, according to the owner.
Tim Jacobsen, executive director of the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau, probably knows more about the show than just about anyone at the lake.
Jacobsen can’t say much about the 10-episode series, but he did admit to taking Bateman and others out on the lake during a scouting trip a couple of months ago.
He said at that time the crew was thinking of doing some of the filming at the Lake of the Ozarks, but the bulk of the filming will likely be done in Georgia because of the tax breaks offered there.
Jacobsen didn’t offer many plot secrets, but he did say he’s been told the show will not be about drug dealing in the Ozarks — although there is a money-laundering component.
Many news outlets have reported, however, that drugs are a big part of the plot. Deadline.com said the show will take place “in the dark and dangerous world of drug-money laundering.” The Hollywood Reporter said Bateman will “star in the show as a family man who moves from the city to the Lake of the Ozarks to begin repaying a debt to a ruthless drug lord.”
The sources interviewed by the News-Leader said they don’t know when the show is scheduled to start airing, though some industry speculation points to late 2017.
Lake Ozark Police Chief Gary Launderville said some people associated with the show contacted him in June to see if his officers could help with traffic control later this summer if the crew decides to shoot some scenes at the lake.
He said his 12 sworn officers deal with some drug crime at the lake, but the real-life problems wouldn’t make for much of a TV show.
“We have drugs here like any other community, but I don’t believe our lake area is a hub by any means,” Launderville said.
As for money laundering, Launderville said the department hasn’t worked any of those cases in his almost two years as chief.
Launderville said the biggest challenge for policing the lake is dealing with the huge population increase during the summer.
Sgt. Scott Hines with the Camden County Sheriff’s Office, which patrols a larger portion of the area, echoed many of Launderville’s comments, saying any “dark and dangerous world of drug money-laundering” at the lake would have to be a fictional one.
There have, however, been some recent federal drug investigations with Lake of the Ozarks connections.
In 2010, Lake-area police seized more than a quarter-pound of meth from a man named George LaFlamme III, in two separate busts — one of which occurred at a hotel on the strip.
Court documents say one of LaFlamme’s associates told investigators he was bringing a pound of meth to the lake area every week from a source in Kansas City.
DEA spokesman Melvin Patterson said the Ozarks has a reputation nationwide for meth — particularly the homemade variety.
“Missouri has long been a place that is known for producing domestic meth,” Patterson said. “I guess because the rural setting you have there.”
Drug officials in southwest Missouri have told the News-Leader that domestic meth labs in the Ozarks have essentially gone away, but the market for meth has only grown as a cheaper and more potent product is being shipped here from Mexico.
Tommy Taylor, bar manager at Tucker’s Shuckers in Lake Ozark, said his restaurant hosted a private party for members of the TV crew in March or April when they were in town scouting locations.
Taylor said the crew went a little overboard trying to stay secretive — he didn’t recognize any of them.
A lifelong lake-area resident, Taylor said he doesn’t understand why the show’s creators have reportedly dreamed up a plot about the dangerous world of underground money laundering. After all, he said, there’s enough crazy stuff that actually happens at the lake.
“I think it is just going to glamorize the lake, make it look more like California than it is,” Taylor said. “Realistically, there is not really any drug cartels or money laundering going on.”
Amy Susan, director of marketing and communications for the Missouri Department of Economic Development, pointed to Albuquerque, N. M., as a potential model for the Lake of the Ozarks if “Ozark” becomes a hit on the level of “Breaking Bad.”
“That city has capitalized on the show’s popularity, and sites depicted on the small screen became favorite haunts for tourists,” Susan said. “There are themed bicycle and RV tours, hotel packages and specials at local businesses, all inspired by the show.”