One of the “totally wild and carefree” participants in MTV’s reality series “Buckwild” has died.
Shain Gandee was among three men found dead in a vehicle Monday in the Sissonville area of West Virginia — about 31 hours after he and his uncle, David Gandee, were reported missing.
David, 48, and Shain, 21, told people they were going four-wheeling in Shain’s 1984 Ford Bronco, about 3 a.m. Sunday at Larry’s Bar in Sissonville, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department reported Monday morning.
Although production on the show’s second season recently began, cameras were not with Shain on Sunday morning, a source who has knowledge of the situation told The TV Column. (The source requested anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak on the record about such details.) Production on the second season has been shut down for now.
The ABC-affiliated TV station in the area reported that a man on a four-wheeler spotted the three men in a vehicle early Monday morning. The third man had not been identified at press time.
“We are shocked and saddened by the terrible news about Shain Gandee, and those involved in this tragic incident,” MTV said in a statement.
MTV noted in its Web site report about Shain’s death that he had a reputation for wild stunts, as well as for his sunny disposition, which earned him the nickname “Gandee Candy.”
“We are waiting for more information, but at this time, our main concern is for the Gandee family and their friends,” MTV said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them. Shain had a magnetic personality, with a passion for life that touched everyone he met and we will miss him dearly.” The network noted in its Web site report that Shain was one of the most popular cast members on “Buckwild.”
On MTV’s “Buckwild” site, Shain is described as loving “mudding, hunting and four-wheeling,” and as a guy who has “done every job from coal mining to being a garbage man. But as long as he is using his hands, he’s happy.”
Other “Buckwild’ cast members have recently been in the news: Salwa Amin was taken into custody after violating terms of her release on pending drug charges. And, in February, Michael Douglas Burford was charged with driving under the influence.
MTV bills “Buckwild” as series about “a group of nine young, carefree and adventurous friends living in West Virginia, who find unique ways to create their own fun.”
The Viacom-owned network renewed “Buckwild” for a second season in December, after the first season opened big. Running in the Thursday-at-10-p.m. time slot that was once home to MTV’s hit “Jersey Shore,” “Buckwild” opened as the night’s No. 1 television program among 12- to 34-year-olds, who are the network’s target audience.
“Buckwild” averaged 3 million total viewers per episode at the time of its renewal.
The reality series hit pay dirt not long before its premiere when Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) fired off a letter to MTV President Stephen Friedman, asking that the network “put a stop to the travesty.” If the MTV marketing department thought real hard for hours and hours, it could not have come up with a stunt more likely to draw the network’s target audience to the show. Because, if there’s one thing that draws young viewers to a TV program, it’s being told a show is no good for them by a guy like Manchin.
Back around that time, “Buckwild” executive producer John Stevens told the celebrity mag Entertainment Weekly that the cast members would be “very refreshing to the MTV audience” because they do not have cellphones, are not on Facebook and don’t even have a roller coaster in town, and are therefore “totally wild and carefree.”