On the Slate: A. Smith, LMNO & Icon Films

River monsters, tough judges and redneck tenors... here's the latest from Icon Films, A. Smith & Co. and LMNO.
October 2, 2008

Conspiracies and courtrooms
Jesse Ventura (right) has tried on a lot of hats in his lifetime; a lot of hats that don’t seem to match. He’s been a wrestler, a Navy SEAL, the mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota and governor of Minnesota and now, conspiracy investigator. A. Smith & Co. Productions will begin shooting a pilot for the yet untitled program for truTV this month.

The premise is this: Ventura will travel America looking for the stories behind various modern-day theories, speaking to fascinating characters of both the believer and skeptic variety. The show promises to go to shady places looking for the answers. The production will start shooting in October and hopes to wrap in November. Kent Weed, President of A. Smith & Co. says he can’t reveal the conspiracy theories the program will cover but: ‘if you were to consider some of the biggest conspiracy theories in the last five years… they’re pretty contemporary.’

The Los Angeles-based prodco is also planning to hit the courtroom later this year with Tough Justice with Judge Marian Shelton. The Bronx Family Court Judge made the news when she faced the State Commission on Judicial Conduct in 2006 for making rude comments toward lawyers and court officials. The prodco was looking for the next Judge Judy and when they read about Shelton they enjoyed her blunt manner and but also her compassion for what she does. ‘She is fairly tough which is where we came up with the title,’ says Weed.

Mediation and mullets
In its own attempt to find the next big thing in the vein of courtroom shows, Encino-based LMNO Productions thinks mediation might be it. The prodco has formed a talent alliance with an Atlanta-based mediation firm owned by Ellen Malow. The Malow program is but one example of LMNO’s upcoming alliances with talent. The prodco also has recent deals with ‘Bear Whisperer’ Steve Searles and The 3 Redneck Tenors. The Tenors have been seen on prime time network television, in an appearance on NBC’s series America’s Got Talent but have yet to be exploited through their own show. VP of development Jennifer Mayer Kulp says when the Tenors hit LMNO’s radar she recognized the feeling she got. ‘This feels like how Blue Collar Comedy felt when it started exploding,’ she says. Kulp was an executive at Comedy Central before joining LMNO. ‘I remember when that explosion started and it’s unbelievable to me the amount of press the Three Redneck Tenors have received within the last year. We really think they’re going to be the next really big entity to be in business with,’ she says. The 3 Redneck Tenors is a coproduction with GoldJack Entertainment.

Steve Searles is to bears what Cesar Milan is to dogs. Though he seems to speaking to them in their own tongue the wrangler from Mammoth Lakes, California isn’t exactly another Grizzly Man. Rather, Searles is a Wildlife Management Specialist who managed to instate a no harm program in Mammoth Lakes which stopped bears from approaching people’s homes and also lowered the number of bears killed to zero. The 2 x 1 hour special for Animal Planet will follow Searles on the job, and will wrap shooting in November/December 2008.

Flesh-eating for Five
We’ve all heard of the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot, but Bristol-based Icon Films has found another mysterious creature that is scaring citizens and this one is threatening wildlife along a river in North India. In their one hour doc for Five’s ‘Nature Shock’ strand, its title Flesh-Eating River Monster sums up the havoc and fear this creature is creating in the Himalayas. The doc, produced by Luke Wiles and executive produced by Icon’s head Harry Marshall, follows angler and scientist Jeremy Wade as he investigates this beast and makes his way to its watery layer. The doc will air on Five October 21.

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