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.

About 3 a.m. Sunday at Larry’s Bar in Sissonville, David, 48, and Shain, 21, told people they were going four-wheeling in Shain’s 1984 Ford Bronco, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department reported Monday.

Although production on the show’s second season recently began, cameras were not with Shain Gandee 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. 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 on Shain Gandee’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, he 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 a 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 10 p.m. Thursday 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.”

‘Walking Dead’ tops ‘Bible’ on Easter Sunday

“The Bible” and the zombies wrapped up things on Easter Sunday.

The zombies won.

The final episode of History’s 10-part biblical miniseries, culminating in the crucifixion of Jesus, averaged 11.7 million viewers Sunday night. AMC’s third-season finale of “The Walking Dead,” meanwhile, unearthed 12.4 million viewers, which is a series high — putting to rest for all eternity any further argument about the program’s revolving door of show-runners wrecking the franchise.

“The Bible’s” finale crowd was not its series best; the Mark Burnett-produced extravaganza attracted 13.1 million when it debuted in early March.

“The Bible” and “The Walking Dead” beat all scripted programming on the broadcast networks Sunday night.

Immediately after its telecast of “The Walking Dead,” AMC’s live “The Talking Dead” — in which fans and host Chris Hardwick dissected and probed “TWD’s” season finale — hung on to 5.2 million of its viewers.

Which means that, at 10 p.m., “The Talking Dead” beat the season debut of HBO’s sex-and-swords drama, “Game of Thrones.”

HBO instead focused on its “Game of Thrones’” season opener having averaged 4.4 million viewers, besting the show’s previous high of 4.2 million viewers, which it scored at last season’s finale. Last season’s premiere drew 3.9 million.

Conan’s TBS contract extended to 2015

While NBC and Jay Leno continue to duke it out over the network’s plans to replace him with Jimmy Fallon, TBS announced Monday that it has extended late-night host Conan O’Brien’s contract — though only through November of 2015.

In early 2012, TBS announced it had re-upped O’Brien’s contract through 2014.

The cable network said in Monday’s announcement that the extension “further solidifies” the ongoing relationship between the network and the popular host, and noted that his audience has a younger median age than that of any other late-night talk show.

According to TBS, Team Coco’s show draws more than 8.3 million followers on Twitter, 2 million fans on Facebook, 2 million unique users each month on and 15 million video views each month on and YouTube.

Conan, you’ll recall, was the first guy to replace Leno on NBC’s “Tonight Show.” He lasted seven months to disappointing ratings, leading NBC to announce that it would return Leno to late night and push Coco-hosted “Tonight” to a later time slot. Conan walked instead.

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, visit