Discovery Channel and exec producer Thom Beers are discussing plans to produce a tribute to “Deadliest Catch” star Capt. Phil Harris.
No deal is firm yet, said Beers, who caught a flight Wednesday to see Harris’ family. But a special is likely, he added and Discovery confirmed.
Harris, who headed the fishing vessel Cornelia Marie, suffered a massive stroke Jan. 29 in Alaska and died Tuesday. He was 53.
Beers has already shot season six of “Deadliest Catch,” starting last November with king crab season and continuing until last month. That means Harris will still be seen on the show when it returns in April.
“He’ll be a big part of the season and the series,” Beers said. “But this is a huge loss to the series. The fate and the future of the Cornelia Marie and crew (are) up in the air. I’m flying up to meet with his sons and figure out what to do going forward.”
The tough-and-tattooed Harris had been captain of the Cornelia Marie for 19 years, and was involved in the finishing industry for 33 years.
Beers said Harris’ relationship with his sons gave “Deadliest Catch” an emotional hook.
“What was fascinating for me was seeing this big rough-and-tumble guy reunited with his sons through work,” Beers said. “He had to adjust to all of a sudden being a dad again. It was fun to see the trials and tribulations of raising these two boys in a work environment.”
In a statement, Harris’ sons, Jake and Josh, said their father had “always been a fighter and continued to be until the end.”
“For us and the crew, he was someone who never backed down,” they said. “We will remember and celebrate that strength.”
“Deadliest Catch” bowed in 2005 and is credited with inspiring a host of shows about tough guys (in the vein of Harris) doing dangerous jobs. Show centers on several fishing boats — which means “Deadliest Catch” would be able to continue even if the Cornelia Marie goes out of commission.
“We will miss his straightforward honesty, wicked sense of humor and enormous heart,” Discovery said in a statement. “We share our tremendous sadness over this loss with the millions of viewers who followed Phil’s every move.”