“It’s a train wreck – there are people who want to see it and leave,” PBS’s Nature EP Fred Kaufman said, of fake nature scenes and/or programs. His franchise relies “on a loyal audience that comes back, week after week, so we feel a responsibility to be truthful and accurate, and there are a lot of people who like that and expect that. I don’t feel any pressure; we’re very proud of the fact we’re standing alone.”
Kaufman, addressing TV critics on the final day of Winter TV Press Tour 2015, was responding to a question about Discovery Channel’s new chief having announced days earlier that Discovery would no longer air fake stuff – a reference to his predecessors having aired well-rated mermaid “documentaries,” and an Eaten Alive special, in which a guy pretended to try to get himself eaten by an anaconda, while wearing a crush-proof suit based in pig’s blood – to advocate for anaconda protection.
“We get no pressure from Fred,” chimed in filmmaker Ann Johnson Prum, who was at the tour today to plug PBS’s new Nature program, Nature’s Guide To Animal Homes.
“They want to be out there for months at a time,” Kaufman said of nature filmmakers, including Prum and her new film’s host and ecologist Chris Morgan. “Once you start faking stuff, everybody in the business can tell; it doesn’t enhance your reputation.”
“I think it peaked” and is now on the wane, Prum said of faking stuff to get a dramatic shot. “Animals are fascinating enough…we don’t have to sex it up.”