"Hatfields & McCoys" Continues Racking Up Nominations, Awards; Fetty Believes "Buckwild" Brings Revenue to WV

Updated 5 years ago by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor

Do you cringe at the negative, stereotypical portrayals of young West Virginians on MTV's "Buckwild," which follows the reality show adventures of a group of Sissonville young adults?  

Tom Beringer and Darrell Fetty at a pre-screening "Hatfields and McCoys" reception in Huntington.
Tom Beringer and Darrell Fetty at a pre-screening "Hatfields and McCoys" reception in Huntington.
File Photo Tony Rutherford

The laughs are on the rest of the country --- WV will benefit from the revenue generated by the attention directed to the state, said Darrell Fetty, co-producer of the History Channel's "Hatfields and McCoys."

  The Hollywood Reporter has already shredded the realty series considered a cross between "Jersey Shore" and "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." The industry trade publication called the show which follows six women and three "wild, drunken" West Virginian's in their late teens and early 20s, "Not only  another tired portrayal of Southern stereotypes, but it's also inexcusably poorly executed."   Calling "Buckwild" useless, the Reporter review concluded, "It adds nothing. It's not shocking, it's not interesting, and it's not quite crazy enough to become part of the zeitgeist. There's nothing about these young rednecks that is particular to West Virginia, either, as much as any other state would surely deny it. These are just kids gone wild (though no wilder than you'd find in any college town). The biggest problem is, we've seen it all before."

West Virginia native and  Marshall University  graduate,  Darrell Fetty, co-produced the much honored "Hatfields & McCoys" History Channel mini-series.

The mini-series accumulated 16 Emmy nominations (winning five categories) and a Satellite Award for Best Mini Series from the International Foreign Press. "Hatfields and McCoys" is up for two Golden Globe Awards (best mini series; best actor, Kevin Costner) at the ceremony scheduled for Sunday, January 13. Fetty insisted that the feud be told free of Southern stereotypes, which assisted in the ratings and critical success of the mini series.

Model Selina Kyle (as film noir actress Veronica Lake) and Hanna Caserta (daughter of Scott & Cindi Caserta) symbolize the "love" for the Keith Albee from past to future generations.
Model Selina Kyle (as film noir actress Veronica Lake) and Hanna Caserta (daughter of Scott & Cindi Caserta) symbolize the "love" for the Keith Albee from past to future generations.
Photo by Glen Berry
  "We have  two Screen Actors Guild nominations (Kevin Costner & Bill Paxton), two Golden Globe nominations (Best miniseries and Kevin for Best Actor), the Producers Guild nomination, a Directors Guild nomination, a Cinematography Guild nomination, a Sound Editors Guild nomination, an Art Directors Guild nomination, and a Satellite Awardfrom the International Foreign Press for Best Miniseries," said Fetty in an e-mail from California on the eve of the Academy Award nomination announcement.         The mini-series was preceded by a documentary , “America’s Greatest Feud: The History of the Hatfields & McCoys,” which offers the insight of historians, scholars and descendants, as well as dramatic  reenactments  shot  at Heritage Farm, near Huntington.   Trifecta Productions, which over the weekend moved into the Mountain State's first sound stage at the renovated former television studio on Fifth Avenue in Downtown Huntington, produced the documentary, as well as the short history of the Keith Albee segment shown prior to the inauguration of Mayor Steve Williams. Eventually, Trifecta plans to turn the ten minute segment narrated by James Casto into a full sixty minute documentary, Joe Murphy, president of Trifecta Productions said.   Currently, the short version of the what-will-hopefully become full documentary is shown at fund raisers for restoration of the 1928 Thomas Lamb theater. "

Anytime we get an opportunity to show our short film at the Keith Albee, we love to do it," Murphy said.  "We’re always hoping for someone that will feel the same way we do and say, ‘we want to help.’   Whether to come in and personally help  by my own hands with electrical work, or writing a check. We want people to know what we have. It’s our responsibility to take care of it."

The film production company has been actively involved in preservation of the Fourth Avenue jewel, including leading the "Save Our Sign"  campaign to fix the sign damaged  during a storm.  "The one thing we can do in our time is to guarantee 100 more years [for the structure]. That sign will [now] last 87 more years for sure. Hopefully, the next generation and the generation after that will continue to see the value in it and continue to take care of it.  If you start letting it fall into disrepair … the Flushing, NY Queens (sister Lamb theatre) was opened six days after  our Keith Albee. And it looks that way," Murphy said referring to the decrepit state of the New York twin that has been unused since the 1990's.   "We take pride in the things we own. We take pride in nice things here in Huntington. It’s been through really hard times, two fires and more than one flood," Murphy said. For additional information,  click: https://www.facebook.com/friendsofthekeith. 
Keith Albee Sign
Keith Albee Sign
Photo by Glen Berry

Fetty stated that he has  "connected them to a couple of productions about the possibility of bringing some TV & film business to the Huntington area.  There are a number of projects being discussed."

Although he shares the dislike for the cliches portrayed in "Buckwild," he revealed that "Jersey Shore," which previously aired in the time spot, had increased tourism for New Jersey.

"I know many people (including Sen. Joe Manchin ) hate "Buckwild" and I suspect many people around the country hate it as well .  I've heard that it's been categorized as an Appalachian "Jersey Shore," which a lot of people in New Jersey (and around the country) also hate," Fetty said.

Despite the hatred of "Jersey Shore" by residents of New Jersey or anywhere else, "It has helped bring a lot of attention and REVENUE to their state, in addition to all the money it's brought to the network, production company and individuals involved," the "Hatfield & McCoy co-producer explained. He added, "Besides the income and jobs that ANY film production brings, that crazy show has increased tourism there, and, by getting people to visit a place, associate with the people there, their view and experience of New Jersey expands beyond the stereotypes as they actually meet the real people there.  People know that the crazy characters depicted in "Jersey Shore" are not the whole picture. "

Admitting that he has not seen "Buckwild" nor is he a fan of 'reality television,' Fetty explained "networks need programs that people will watch. Currently, viewers are watching more and more "Reality" programs featuring wild and crazy 'Regional Characters' in unique locales or occupations - from "Swamp People" to "Buckwild" - As long as people want to see shows like that, the networks will continue to program them. Every state and specific locale has its own wide range of eccentric, looney, and outrageous indigenous personalities along with the vast majority of normal, intelligent folks who live there."

Unfortunately, most people do not watch shows about "normal intelligent people living normal intelligent lives," Fetty said. Although not advocating "Buckwild," the filmmaker explained "the only way to fight low-brow programming is to develop more higher-quality shows about real people, real conflicts and real human emotions, like "Hatfields & McCoys," to counterbalance any stereotypical or exploitive productions that come to our previously-underused area for filming."

[Editor's Note: Sources indicate that more than one production firm have inquired about possible made-in-West Virginia spin-offs of "Buckwild."]

Although its creatively easier  to appeal to the lowest common denominator, Fetty said, "I like to think that there are a lot of us who are doing everything we can to raise the bar a bit and make better TV shows."

Since "Jersey Shore" expanded tourism and interest in that state, Fetty predicted "no matter how bad it is, there's the possibility that "Buckwild" could be good for the local economy... if not the public image of the state. People will get a broader view of the state the more that they have an actual experience of the state and its people."

Filmmakers who select the Mountain State as a shooting location may be eligible for state tax incentives as the 'making of' production process of television and film stimulate an economic multiplier, which benefit local businesses (i.e. hotels, restaurants), but create temporary jobs that range from acting and extras to a need for carpentry and electrical skills to, for instance, build sets.

The incentive is available to productions that do not present a negative image of the state. "Buckwild" producers were denied the incentive due to the stereotypical nature of the project.


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