Two reality shows featuring Tahoe on the horizon
Nevada Appeal News Service
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – Could the next Snooki be in South Lake Tahoe?
Two reality shows that feature the South Shore are in development by producer Michael Koff. “South Lake” will feature five or six friends age 16-25 and their day-to-day lives. “King of the Mountain” is an elimination-style reality show that will feature amateur skier and snowboarders vying for a professional sponsorship.
Casting for “South Lake” has been ongoing; auditions last weekend at the Lake Tahoe Visitors Center attracted about 200 people.
“We’re stoked that people are so open arms to having this show at their town,” Koff said. “They’ve been very accommodating. I just want to thank everyone who helped out and came in.”
Koff plans to move into a local production office Nov. 1 and begin production by January. Filming will last for eight weeks and center around the winter sports season. Koff said two networks are interested in carrying “South Lake,” but he is unable to disclose specifics.
“The closest show that it could be compared to is ‘The Hills,’ a reality-based docu-drama,” Koff said in a phone interview this week. “It will feature the Tahoe lifestyle for young people with a big musical influence.”
The show will follow youth who have grown up in South Lake Tahoe or lived here for a number of years, rather than seasonally.
“We’re digging into the culture and lifestyle of South Lake,” said Koff, who grew up in the East Bay and spent summers and winters with his family on the South Shore. “It has always been a very genuine and unique lifestyle.”
Koff said he was hesitant to refer to “South Lake” as a reality show, due to the reputation of reality TV.
“It’s unscripted, so it has to be labeled reality,” he said. “But we’re not producing drama. We’re following existing stories, jobs and hoping to bring it all together with the beauty and lifestyle and outdoors associated with Tahoe.”
Koff refers to the second show, “King of the Mountain,” as his “baby.”
Hosted by Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley, the show will pit six to eight male and female amateur athletes age 18-30 against each other in a competition to become a sponsored skier or snowboarder. The competitors will live together in a house and each episode will feature an elimination challenge. Koff said the series will feature “heavy celebrity involvement” and film for about three weeks this winter.
“It’s very much a reality show in every sense,” Koff said. “It puts them together in a house where they will be living, and relies heavily on the extreme nature of alpine sports.”
If the shows move into production, there could be job opportunities for locals. Koff said key hires would come from Los Angeles, but the technical crew would be hired locally. He also plans to use local vendors as much as possible.
“South Lake” would offer roughly 40 local jobs, where “King of the Mountain” could have up to 90 openings due to the logistics required for a competition show.
Koff has worked in the production industry for 11 years, mostly as a sound mixer for feature films. He said there are more than 60 reality shows on his resume.
He’s been sitting on the “King of the Mountain” idea for some time, and when he had a break in his schedule this year, his wife urged him to put it to paper.
“Once that happened, I started talking to sports agents and more and more people started signing up,” Koff said.
Kathleen Dodge, executive director of the El Dorado Lake Tahoe Film & Media Office, said there are several reality shows in development for the region.
“It is exciting,” Dodge said. “Some of these can draw a lot of attention to the region. Of course, we want ones that are going to be positive for us. We think it’s all good and we’re very excited.”
Koff has not pulled filming permits for the projects, since they are still in development. Dodge said the office has been working with Koff to guide him through the eventual process.
“My role will be to help him do business in El Dorado County,” Dodge said. “Should (the shows) get picked up, I will help him use our resources.”