Thom Beers’ Original Prods., the reality shop behind hits “Monster Garage” and “Deadliest Catch,” is getting into scripted drama.
Beers has hired Bunim-Murray’s Philip Segal as exec VP of entertainment to help ramp up efforts in the one-hour arena and recruited former Sci Fi Channel exec Stuart Swezey to serve as VP.
Trio is taking out scripted series versions of the “Deadliest” franchise and past Discovery series “Crash Files.” Original Prods. is close to a deal with a cable network for a feature-length documentary about the kinds of characters who would be featured on the series “Deadly Seasons.”
Company has optioned Spike Walker’s book “Coming Back Alive,” which chronicles his journey as an Alaskan crab fisherman. Crab fishermen also are documented in “Deadliest Catch,” which it’s planning to adapt into a miniseries.
Beers said the move into original drama is an expansion of his already well-defined brand.
“We’ve succeeded because buyers know what we’re about: male-oriented, immersive, rough-and-tumble storytelling. ‘Catch’ is a perfect example of that.”
“Deadliest Catch” is currently Discovery’s top-rated franchise. Spinoff “Deadly Seasons,” which Discovery ordered last fall, focuses on professional risk-takers, including smoke jumpers, bomb squads, iceberg wranglers and storm chasers. Franchise blossomed out of the original “World’s Deadliest Season” special, which centered on Alaskan fishermen who seek deep-sea lobster.
Segal will be responsible for translating that sensibility into scripted series and will guide the “Coming Back Alive” project.
At the same time, Beers is going strong in the reality area, setting up three new projects at TLC: series pilot “Milk Carton Kids,” an hourlong that revisits cases of missing children and their families; three-part special “Resolutions,” which explores the trauma and humor of watching friends and family undertake self-improvement; and the event “Crazy Christmas Lights,” showcasing the homes and lives of the people who put up the most outrageous holiday decorations. Swezey will be the key exec at the reality shows.
Latter two are scheduled to premiere later this year.
Segal worked on Bunim-Murray’s “The Real World,” “The Simple Life” and “Starting Over.” Previously, he ran programming and development for Tribune Entertainment. Exec also held positions at Amblin Entertainment/DreamWorks Television, Columbia Pictures TV and ABC.
At Sci Fi, Swezey oversaw reality shows including “Mad, Mad House” and “Proof Positive.” Before that, Swezey was a freelance producer, working on A&E’s “Criss Angel Mindfreak” and the doc “Better Living Through Circuitry.”