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TV Entrepreneurs Still Roam the Halls at NATPE

MIAMI — Dave Mech of Springfield, Mass., donned his “Potsquatch” suit and headed for Miami this week.

Mech has an idea for an unscripted TV show set in the booming cannabis business. It’s a branding initiative for the recreational marijuana dispensary he hopes to open in Springfield later this year. He figured he’d try his luck cold-pitching producers at the NATPE conference because he didn’t have much to lose. He’s already got the show’s title picked out.

” ‘Potstars,’ like ‘Pawn Stars,’ ” Mech explained. “Because we used to be a pawn shop … but now we’re a pot shop.’ ”

Mech grabbed attention at the show by walking around in a giant furry green costume bedecked with big plastic marijuana leaves. He had a lot of conversations about the show just from people who inquired about the costume, which was crafted by an artist friend.

The spirit of salesmanship that drove Mech to Miami is still flickering in the dozens of small-fry firms that populate NATPE’s exhibition floor. The major studios may be obsessed with achieving global scale, but there are still plenty of tiny companies far outside New York and Los Angeles who do a modest business in TV movies, or cartoons, or documentaries and specials. They don’t need to be the next Disney to survive.

Mech really took the DIY route to NATPE. He didn’t even bother to take out exhibit space alongside the international pavilion and his fellow TV dreamers.

The conceit of “PotStars” is that people will come into the shop with problems that Potco helps them address. In reality, Potco tries to help addicts ease off opioids. But Mech, a sometime producer with an anti-war documentary and a Connecticut PBS kids show to his credit, fell upon the reality show idea after he was approached for work by two colorful brothers who grew up in the foster care system.

“They are literally Beavis and Butthead,” Mech assured. “They are the show.”

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