Producer (and second homeowner) Eric Schotz debuts new episodes in Mammoth
As President and CEO of LMNO Productions Eric Schotz said this week, “The networks do not do this.”
And yet, apparently, they do.
Animal Planet has allowed Schotz to screen new episodes of the Bear Whisperer starring Mammoth Wildlife Specialist Steve Searles before the episodes air nationally beginning April 7.
Indeed Searles, who will join Eric Schotz onstage for a Q & A session during the screening at the Mammoth Lakes Arts Center, has not even seen these episodes.
The initial two-hour Bear Whisperer premiere aired in January 2010. Its popularity induced Animal Planet to order more episodes.
The cornerstone of the latest three episode installment will clearly be the “Blondie” episode, which chronicles the ultimate demise of a bear who made more than 75 entries into private residences over two years.
A profoundly moving program, Schotz said his co-executive producer Lisa Bourgoujian “cries every time she’s in the editing room” for the Blondie episode.
“It’s not every day you see a police officer break down in tears,” added Schotz, referring to the footage taken after Blondie is put down by MLPD Sgt. Karen Smart.
Schotz first got the idea for the Bear Whisperer about
three years ago when one of his staff researchers showed him a newspaper article.
“We were on the hunt for an expert in an unknown world,” said Schotz, whose production company currently has “seven or eight” shows on-air.
*You know you’re doing well when you can’t remember something like that.
Schotz then drove up to Mammoth and met Searles over dinner at Nevado’s.
Though there were a lot of attorneys who ultimately crafted the contracts, the trust between the two men was strong from the outset. As Schotz said, “The contracts were just a formality. I would deal with him [Searles] on a handshake.”
Once a reel (think movie trailer) was made, Schotz made his pitch to Animal Planet, which bought the show on the spot.
“I’ve heard a lot of pitches in reality TV, but I’d never heard of a bear whisperer … I don’t care what you say, bears instill fear, and audiences are mesmerized by the bears proximity to the town and the people in this community.”
Schotz, who has been married for 30 years to wife Linda and has three grown children, started in television news at KQED in San Francisco before ultimately transitioning to reality television, a medium in which he is arguably a pioneer.
“I love selling non-fiction stories, and starting out, I liked being in a business no one ever really understood. Dramas are costly and cumbersome … as far as I’m concerned, good storytelling is good storytelling, and I can turn things around a lot quicker.”
The world premiere of the Bear Whisperer, a fundraiser for the Mammoth Lakes Arts Center, takes place this Sunday, April 3 at 7 p.m. For details, see the full page advertisement on page 9.Share Email This Post