'Ice Road Truckers': Thom Beers Addresses the Question, 'Where Is Lisa Kelly?'
Last week, I headed to Washington, D.C., for a couple of days to take part in a roundtable discussion on the state of reality TV with some fellow journalists and producer Thom Beers of Original Productions, responsible for "Deadliest Catch," "Black Gold," "Bering Sea Gold," "Storage Wars," "Ax Men" and many more reality hits.
The trip centered on the upcoming July 4 premiere of Beers' new show for NatGeo, "America's Lost Treasures," which takes the basic idea of "Antiques Roadshow" and adds a competition element.
More on that later.
While I had Beers' ear, I asked him a question that many blog commenters have been asking since the premiere of the new season of another of his shows, History's "Ice Road Truckers" -- "Where is Lisa Kelly?"
The willowy blond from Wasilla, Alaska, became a viewer favorite, both on "Ice Road" and on its spin-off, "IRT: Deadliest Roads."
She fought her fears, worked to prove herself against big, tough men, and even showed a soft side when she adopted a stray puppy while driving mountain roads in India.
(Click here to learn about Kelly's history on both shows and what happened to the puppy, now a grown dog living in Southern California. It's an archive page, so scroll down for earlier posts.)
But, when season six of "Ice Road Truckers" premiered on June 3, there were some new drivers in the cast, but no Kelly.
"We offered her a contract to return," Beers said after the roundtable, "and she chose not to. That's it. We invited her back. Love to have her. She's taking a year off, realizing that she might not be able to get another show. But she's an interesting woman. We liked her.
"The thing what we liked about her more than anyone else -- she's the one person of them all that showed real fear.
"I wish her luck, and I wish she was back."
I also asked about something I'd always wondered, how the production crew managed to get the puppy from India to the United States.
"What dog?" said Beers. "I have no idea. I don't know."
So, there you have it. Will Kelly get her own show somewhere else? Will she come back to "Ice Road?" Will the dog get its own spin-off?
Your guess is as good as mine.