Sunday, April 20, 2008
A sequence in which huge storm waves crashed over the deck of the Wizard in Tuesday's season debut of "Deadliest Catch" reportedly where not shot on the same day the crew's stateroom flooded.
Scene of life-and-death peril in season opener shot on different days
By James Hibberd
LOS ANGELES - Tuesday's fourth-season premiere of Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" opens during a raging nighttime storm in the Bering Sea. Mammoth waves smash an Alaskan crab fishing boat called the Wizard, sending large swells crashing over its deck. Inside, alarmed crew members discover that their stateroom is flooding with incoming seawater.
The sequence suggests that the fishermen are in danger of sinking as a violent tempest tosses huge waves against the boat.
But here's the not-so-deadliest catch:
The boat flooded in September.
The huge storm waves were from October.
And a producer may have filmed extra footage to help stitch the two events together.
Pages from a production outline obtained by The Hollywood Reporter suggest that producers of the cable network's top-rated series may have strayed from reality while editing the harrowing sequence from the show's record-setting premiere.
The document directs producers of the Emmy-nominated program to patch together a scene of life-and-death peril from different days of filming.
Discovery executives described the outline as an early draft that was dismissed by the show's production company. The sequence, however, does match what appeared in Tuesday's episode. The network strongly denies that re-enactment footage is ever used by "Catch," but it acknowledged that material from separate days of filming were combined to produce the scene in question.
From the outline:
"WIZARD ROGUE WAVE: Combine Wizard leak story on 9/26 with the Wizard being hit by a big wave on 10/1 and 10/2. The fiction we are constructing is that the big wave hit the Wizard on their steam up to Dutch — caused a leak in Lenny's stateroom. In reality these were two separate events. In addition to the original source material, (a producer's name redacted by THR) shot re-enactment footage."
Such editing and staging tactics are common on reality shows, but Discovery considers "Catch" a documentary and holds the series to the highest standard.
Discovery president and general manager John Ford said the outline was an early draft that did not rise to the level of network inspection. "It's a rough draft that was rejected," Ford said after speaking to producer Original Prods.
That said, the scene did combine shots from two different days. The exterior shots showing the Wizard being hit by the waves were filmed from another boat while the Wizard was alone during its actual flooding.\
"The Wizard was struck by a big wave, and that wave caused the leak you see in the show," Ford said. "The thing we didn't have on camera was the actual wave that struck the Wizard. That was shot at a separate time on the same journey and was an insert edit from the show. We did that for story continuity because we didn't have a boat-to-boat shot."
Despite mixing the footage to create a more dramatic scene, Ford said the story told in the episode remains accurate.
"Everything that you see in the show happened," he said. "Nothing is made up and nothing needs to be made up. The Wizard was struck by a big wave, and that wave caused the leak you see in the show. The show is 100% authentic."