MTV announced Wednesday that it has laid to rest its hit reality series “Buckwild” — a week after the death of the show’s most popular participant, Shain Gandee.
But the show won’t end until MTV runs a “Buckwild special” Sunday — at the end of a day of “Buckwild” first-season marathoning that’s sure to clock some mighty impressive ratings.
(“Buckwild” averaged 3 million viewers at the time MTV ordered a second season in February.)
Gandee, his uncle and a friend died of carbon monoxide poisoning April 1 when Gandee’s Ford Bronco sank knee-deep in mud, which covered the exhaust pipe. The three men had gone “mudding” near Gandee’s Sissonville, W.Va., home.
“After careful consideration, MTV will not be moving forward with season two of ‘Buckwild’ in West Virginia,” the network said Wednesday in a statement about its successful “Jersey Shore” successor.
“We love the cast and the show and this was not an easy decision, but given Shain’s tragic passing and essential presence on the show, we felt it was not appropriate to continue without him,” MTV continued. “Instead, we are working on a meaningful way to pay tribute to his memory on our air and privately.”
MTV’s decision was not embraced by the show’s producer — who belongs to some radical philosophical sect that does not believe in losing one’s employment just because a show’s star has died.
“There’s something that smells of [manure] here on every level,” producer J.P. Williams fumed to the Hollywood Reporter, demonstrating that depth of vocabulary for which the entertainment industry is famous.
“This is the network that has shows about teen pregnancy,” Williams continued. “They’ll stick by a show that allows you to abandon a child, but a kid dies by accident . . . and they cancel the show?”
Shooting had begun on the second season when Gandee died. And the gang had renegotiated their contracts for the second season, upping their salaries from a pathetic $1,000 per episode to a merely embarrassing $4,000 per episode — in case you were wondering why the television industry so loves docu soaps.
The upcoming special, “Buckwild: WV to the NYC,” was shot before production started on that second season, explained MTV — which added that the “tribute” special and marathon are being run “with the support of his parents, Dale and Loretta Gandee.”
In its announcement, MTV included a statement from Gandee’s mother about the controversial show: “We are honored that we were able to let the world see what a wonderful son we had. He was the best son anyone could ask for. As we look to honor him in our lives every day moving forward, we are happy to share some of his last moments doing what he loved best: having fun and making people laugh.”
The reality series, about a bunch of “totally wild and carefree” friends (exec producer John Stevens’s description) hit pay dirt not long before its premiere, when Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) fired off a letter of protest about the series to MTV President Stephen Friedman. “As a U.S. Senator, I am repulsed at this business venture, where some Americans are making money off of the poor decisions of our youth,” Manchin wrote.
On MTV’s “Buckwild” site, Gandee is described as loving “mudding, hunting and four-wheeling.”
“Buckwild” is not the first reality series of an MTV network that has been scrubbed after a cast member’s death.
In August 2009, MTV’s VH1 network finally waved the white flag on the reality series that featured “Megan Wants a Millionaire” competitor Ryan Jenkins after he was found dead in an apparent suicide.
Jenkins had been accused of killing his onetime wife.
“Just in case you missed it, we’re sad to announce that the fate of both ‘Megan Wants a Millionaire’ and ‘I Love Money 3’ have been determined: both have been canceled and will not make it to air,” VH1 blogged at that time.
Jenkins’s death came little more than a week after a guy searching a dumpster in Buena Park, Calif., discovered the naked, mutilated body of Jenkins’s ex-wife, Jasmine Fiore. When Jenkins was identified as a “person of interest” in the murder case, VH1 announced that it was suspending its telecast of “Megan Wants a Millionaire,” which had aired three episodes.
Then Buena Park police Chief Tom Monsoon announced that there was a warrant for Jenkins’s arrest in Fiore’s murder. VH1 finally threw in the towel on “Megan” but held out hope for “I Love Money 3,” a slated 2010 series in which Jenkins also competed. Eventually, VH1 conceded defeat on that show too.
Back then, VH1 blog patrons were not happy with the decision:
“Seriously? He’s dead, no big deal now. Don’t they always say ‘The show must go on’?” wondered “Jen.”
“Why are you cancelling the show? It is frustrating when you are watching every episode and then before the season is up, you cancel it. Ok . . . That Ryan guy killed his wife, but it would just make the show all that more interesting,” chimed in “Rachel.”
CW has pulled the plug on “Cult,” according to creator Rockne O’Bannon, little more than halfway through its first-season run.
“Sadly true. CW Execs once called the last 5 episodes ‘outstanding.’ I guess too outstanding. You are great, SMART fans. Thx to u all!” O’Bannon tweeted Wednesday.
By “SMART fans,” O’Bannon was speaking to the show’s average audience of 760,000 viewers.
“Cult” told the story of Jeff Sefton, whose brother Nate believes a hit TV show wants to harm him, and then Nate mysteriously disappears. That causes Jeff to sit up and take notice, what with him being an investigative journalist. Intrepid Jeff uncovers the dark underworld of the cult TV show, which, in one of those happy coincidences, is called “Cult,” and stars a cult leader named Billy Grimm.
At the time the show was unveiled, CW suits said the show had become an obsession for its viewers, who were taking their fixation to extremes in the real world.
Just not enough of them.