A new reality show being produced for MTV is creating a stir in the Elkhorn City community.
“Made in Kentucky” is currently being filmed in Pike County and surrounding areas, putting an Eastern Kentucky spin on reality television. According to members from the Viacom production team, who attended Friday’s special meeting of the Elkhorn City Town Council, the show will focus on the lives of 10 young people in the area.
“It’s a coming-of-age type thing. It’s basically a snap-shot into the kids’ lives over the next eight weeks to kind of see where they’re going,” said one member of the crew.
According to the two crew members in attendance, a team from Viacom found the cast members last summer and pitched the show to MTV. From that point, a second team (the one in attendance) from Viacom was sent to create the series.
“This show is a little bit different than a lot of the shows,” said one of the production members. “They’re trying to branch out and get a little bit inclusive for different regions.”
However, according to Elkhorn Mayor Mike Taylor, the scenes being created are not representative of the region at all. He said the crew working on the show attempted to use an Elkhorn City resident’s garbage dumpster to create a hot tub, which he said brought forth a concern that the show will be shining a negative light on the city.
“No. You’re not going to do that. You’re not going to make us look like idiots in Elkhorn City,” said Taylor. “That’s not going to work.”
The Viacom representatives said the “hot tub” was meant to be used in an “improv-type” scene. Another “produced bit” included a game of hide-and-seek which the company said would be played by the cast hiding in vehicles and driving around to find each other.
“It’s just a vehicle for us to get dialogue as we make it seem like the kids are having fun. And they’re young, fun kids,” said one of the production members.
The representatives in attendance presented a list of “vetted” individuals to the court — showing which community members will be the focus of the show. According to those representatives, those listed have not done “anything illegal” and were “in good standing.”
Taylor said he knew and has had issues, within the city, with a few of the community members who have been cast.
When asked if the show was planning to shine “a negative light” on the area, the representatives said, “No.”
“The idea is not to have a wild, drunken party and constantly doing things like ‘Jersey Shore’ and all of that,” said one of the representatives.
She said a safety consultant works closely with the cast and added that there are “strict” guidelines in place from MTV and the filming company,in regards to required behavior, both on and off-camera.
“It was the same thing on ‘Buckwild.’ They had security there — the guy’s dead now,” said Taylor.
“Buckwild” was an MTV reality series, filmed in Charleston, West Virginia, that followed nine young adults in the community. The show premiered January 2013 for a 12-episode series, and was expected to pick up a second season before one of the show’s cast members, Shain Gandee, 21 of Sissonville, West Virginia, was found dead in April 2013. According to news reports from the time, Gandee and two older men died of apparent carbon-monoxide poisoning when their vehicle landed in a mud pit after leaving a local bar in the early morning hours.
Taylor said he was not going to entertain the idea of allowing the crew to film in the Elkhorn City area and allow it to become the next “Buckwild.” The council asked if the show would be focusing on “sex, drugs and drinking,” and the production members said it was not.
“It’s nothing we can show. We can’t even show a fight on our show. It’s not one of those shows,” said one of the representatives. “We are not just casting a bunch of miscreants and people that are out doing outrageous things … These are real kids in the area that are really trying to progress in their lives.”
Taylor disagreed, saying the kids are not even “from Elkhorn.”
According to the Viacom representatives, they had to arrange housing for a few of the young adults who had “moved away,” in order to allow them the chance to get back and be a part of the show.
The council said it was surprised by the lack of communication between the crew and the city leadership.
“We landed in Pikeville. We went and got the business permit there. The producers and everyone had met with the mayor and the city attorney,” said one of the representatives. “And, as we’re finding out where we’re filming — because part of that is just unfolding for us — we’re trying to go out and do the proper thing.”