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Thom Beers Adding Coal Miners to His Amazing Reality Shows

Real-guy reality-show king Thom Beers has a packed agenda this week — he's heading north for a meeting with all the sea captains on his wildly popular "Deadliest Catch" show, then onward to confab with the team getting ready for the next season of "Ice Road Truckers." And then he'll be heading south, where, he reports, preparation is under way for what sounds like could be the next big-ticket Beers show, in West Virginia and Kentucky.

"It's a pilot. I can't talk much about it yet," he says.

Hot environment or cold?

"Cold," he laughs. "We're actually going into a hole in the ground. We're going to be down there with the coal miners. It's a whole different world."

Which is how the preternaturally peppy Beers likes it.

"I love getting out there. Every show is so different — in the surroundings, the characters, the gear you use and the way you shoot. They're a lot more complicated than people think," reveals the man who has been hailed as reality TV's only auteur — the man responsible for an array of shows that ranges from "Monster Garage" to "Pitchmen."

"'The Colony' is completely different," he goes on, referring to the show in which he has 10 people trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. "It's all shot over the shoulder because we want everyone to discover, as an audience, as the characters are discovering." He considers that program, now in its second season, "a real swing for the fences." It worked.

"The age, the demographic of that show — 13 percent is a brand-new audience for Discovery Channel. My 18-to-49-year-olds are bigger than my 25-to-54s," crows Beers.

Right now, the Season 3 launch of truTV's "Black Gold" show about oil rig roughnecks in Texas is at the forefront of his mind. The boys will be back Sept. 8, and more trouble is ahead. Beers seems to get a kick out of the antics of his rowdy crew.

"The biggest challenge in this show is keeping these guys out of jail," he reports. "This is a much more rough-and-tumble world."

And unlike the seamen and truckers on his other shows, "These guys go home at night. They work, work, work their butts off, go home, get cleaned up and put on their best clothes and then go out to the bars for a few drinks, then a few more drinks. They're young. There's a lot of camaraderie. They make two or three times more than anyone else out there. If you'll pardon the expression, it's fightin' and (expletive)."

Beers has had to adjust his filming plans due to unexpected circumstances more than once. "The two guys I thought were going to be stars at the start of the show got arrested and thrown in jail right at the start of the first season," he reports. "You have to be ready to make changes on the fly."

This year, a woman's been added to the mix — one who happens to be pretty, blond and in charge. "She owns the property where they're drilling. She's awesome. She carries a gun. She doesn't take any (expletive). ... I've got to admit, we found her, and then we decided this would be a good place to drill."

THE BIG-SCREEN SCENE: "Rampart," the feature drama based on Los Angeles police scandals of the 1990s, was initially expected to start filming in late summer. Now the Woody Harrelson-Ice Cube starrer has been set for a late October production start. This is the picture with which Ice Cube hopes to remind the audience he's got dramatic chops — and isn't that cuddly stepdad from "Are We There Yet?" At least, not all the time. In "Rampart," the rapper plays "a homicide detective on the trail of a dirty cop," he says. That cop is Harrelson's character.

Interesting premise for the soon-to-shoot "October Baby" movie with Jasmine Guy and John Schneider. It's about a young woman (still to be cast) whose world gets turned upside down when she learns the truth about her beginnings prior to being adopted — she's the survivor of a failed abortion.

CASTING CORNER: They're adding a Russian military officer to the cast of "X-Men: First Class" and looking for an actor who conveys power, strength and authority. The age spread is 20-60, but he must actually be able to speak Russian.

To find out more about Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and read their past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


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