Thom Beers: 'Pitchmen,' 'The Colony,' Sig on 'Dancing With the Stars'

Today's cuppa: espresso

Anthony_Sullivan_Billy_Mays_Pitchmen 2-7-2009 3-55-31 PM Yesterday, I talked to "Pitchmen" creator Thom Beers of Original Productions, and this Zap2it story was the result.

The upshot is, the Discovery Channel show will go on after the death of Billy Mays (in blue), with Anthony "Sully" Sullivan (in green), Billy Mays III (who's been under Sully's wing, learning the producing and directing side of the infomercial business) and some new faces. But there's one thing that can never be replicated or replaced.

"What's interesting with our Billy Mays, that we just lost," Beers says, "there's something about the absolute pitch of his voice. You sit in a room and literally kids, children, babies, pets, would all perk up and they'd turn to the television.

"Dogs, cats, everybody, didn't matter -- something about the pitch and tone of his voice, literally they turn their heads to that screen. It was the yelling or the frequency. You don't replace that."

As always, Beers -- whose current TV shows include "Deadliest Catch," "Ice Road Truckers" and "Ax Men" -- has plenty of other TV ideas simmering on the stove. The latest to come to the table is "The Colony," premiering Tuesday, July 21, on Discovery.

The reality series takes several people from different backgrounds and with different skill sets and The_Colony_warehouse-map_m sequesters them inside an abandoned light-industrial area to fend for themselves, as if they were among the few survivors of some sort of devastating plague.

(Click on map for a larger version.)

They have to figure out how to get food, water, electricity, etc., while also protecting themselves from roaming bands of vandals (supplied by the show, not the city of Los Angeles). Beers is in the blue shirt in the center of the group shot below (click for larger version).

"The show, it's just got me, man," Beers says. "Every time I'm sitting down, editing, cutting it together downstairs, you're amazed at the ingenuity and the spirit of these people. What's neat about it to me, here are these guys, I put them in this situation, but they're living it.

"It's not like they go home at 8 o'clock and have dinner with the family. They're living in this nasty, gnarly place, just like you would if something happened. They eat plenty of rats, pigeons and fish from the L.A. River."

(FYI, here's an exhibit about the Los Angeles River. You may decide for yourselves whether any fish from that river would be suitable for human consumption.)

"It's cool," Beers continues, "because they manage to stay on target and build and learn to live without electricity, without running water, without any outside communications. It's pretty amazing."

The_Colony_Cast "The Colony" also points up the value of having at least a few folks around who know how stuff  works and can actually build something.

"That was the whole idea of 'Monster Garage,'" Beers says, "same thing. Where is the pride of authorship, in our ability to actually figure out and make things work as opposed to just buying something or sending ideas offshore and having it come back as a fully functioning thing?

"We don't know how to do that anymore, and that's what this show is about, too. It teaches people simple stuff. Their clothes are so filthy that they decide to make a washing machine out of a 55-gallon drum and a bicycle.

"That's what I'm saying. When you get into it, the show evolves. It's the most fascinating show I ever made in my life."

Before I let Beers go, I had to ask him if he's heard of any progress in my mission to get "Deadliest Catch" crab-boat captain Sig Hansen on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars."

While Beers doesn't know of any forward motion on the idea, he does say, "I'm telling you, I thinkSigHansen it would be cool. Can I ask you something, do you think he has any rhythm at all"?

As I'm Irish-American, I didn't feel qualified to speculate on whether a Norwegian-American like Sig would necessarily have an inherent sense of rhythm, but I did confess to not having really seen any direct evidence of it on the show.

"That's what I'm saying," Beers says. "I worry. Look, we'd love it. Personally, and as a producer of 'Deadliest Catch,' I'd love for him to go. He'd have to be taping during the first few weeks of king crab season. But boy, when he comes back...

"We'd love that, are you kidding me? When he comes back, we'd have a pink tutu around the captain's chair. Are you kidding me? These guys, they'd crucify him."