Terlingua to Reality Show Producers: “HELL NO!”

<<<UPDATE – 12/4/2015>>>
Badlands Terlingua Reality Show Facts

Now that the “Reality” show is airing, I’ve noticed that we’re getting a little traffic here.  You may be curious about what’s real and what’s not in that show.

Here are the facts:

  1. The “reality” show in no way reflects the reality of living in Terlingua. For example, they imported the rattlesnake from Terlingua Ranch. That snake should get a SAG card, it got so much screen time. The local participants were paid and directed, the show was scripted from the get-go. Here’s a fun little factoid: you can’t have a synopsis (of a script) without a script. See below.
  2. The narrator is a professional actor from Marfa. Never seen him in Terlingua.
  3. All the footage of Glenn is from a previous film called “24 Hours in Terlingua.” That little movie is a much better representation of the people who actually lived here at that time. Most of them still live here.
  4. The locals you see in the show are the only ones who agreed to be in it. So, you’re seeing that part of the population that either needed the money or wanted to be on TV. Obviously, this small sample that self-selects to be on a reality show isn’t representative of the population of Terlingua. Most of us knew they were going to capitalize on Glenn’s murder and Tony’s trial because it was in the synopsis I posted originally.  See below for how we feel about that.
  5. The bar that represents the Ghost Town in the show is actually way out on the fringe of the ghost town. The owners of the bars and other businesses that are actually in the ghost town denied permission for the TV crew to shoot on their property.
  6. The new owner of La Kiva denied access to his property. The re-enactment of the murder (isn’t that classy?) was done at a bar in Marfa.

And so on and so on… bottom line, what you’re watching is a scary story. Some of it was shot in or around Terlingua. The scenery’s nice…

Here’s my original post:

A reality show in Terlingua?

Maybe.  Maybe not.

A reality show in Terlingua that is going to exploit Glenn Felt’s death and Tony Flint’s trial?


This morning I woke up early and LaRoja didn’t, so I slipped outside, got in the 4Runner, and drove to the American Legion parking lot on HWY 118.  Using the legion’s internet to check my emails on my phone, I received this:

Subject line:  Glenn Felts


Good day to you.  We are, as you may know,  in the midst of filming a new
documentary series – Badlands – for National Geographic.  Filming is
taking  place in Terlingua, Texas in earnest for the next 10 weeks. Here
is a synopsis of this exciting series that examines man’s thirst for
adventure in the one of the most remote places in the Southwest and the
people whose gusto for life takes us all over the Badlands of Texas.

Hundreds of miles from the nearest city sits a small town, Terlingua,
Texas,  in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert populated by people who
have given up modern comforts and financial stability for something that
money cannot buy – freedom. THE BADLANDS is an 8-part documentary series that brings this world to our viewers through an intimate look at the
people who live here and the businesses that make the town function, all
set against the backdrop of a murder trial that has torn the community

I came upon your web site Terlingua Music – and saw your posting about
Glenn and the celebration of his life and what he meant to the community.
I would like to know if we can chat soon and like to ask you about the
photos that were posted and the video crew that was filming.

I thank you for you consideration and look forward to a favorable reply to
our request.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact

Best Regards,


David Scott Jones
Associate Producer
Original Productions, LLC
308 W. Verdugo Ave.
Burbank, CA 91502 USA
P: 818/295-xxxx
M: 818-378-xxxx
E: djones@(xxxxx).com

Original Productions, LLC is a television production company based in
Burbank, California and was founded in 1999 by veteran television producer Thom Beers.  Original Productions is best known for producing reality television shows for the Discovery Channel but has more recently produced shows for other networks such as History, NatGeo, truTV, and Spike. Some of its most popular shows are Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers, Ax Men, Coal, Black Gold, and 1000 Ways to Die just to name a few.  Its earlier hit was Monster Garage.

National Geographic Channel (also known as Nat Geo) is the American
digital cable and satellite television channel that is owned by Fox Cable
Networks division of 21st Century Fox and the National Geographic Society.

The channel airs non-fiction television programs produced by National
Geographic and other production companies. Like History and Discovery
Channel, the channel features documentaries with factual content involving nature, science, culture, and history, plus some reality entertainment programming. Its primary sister network worldwide, including the United States, is Nat Geo Wild, which focuses (sic)


My initial thought was that the timing was excellent. I’m sure they’d pay me well for the use of my photographs. I was tempted. I’ve had some expensive health issues lately and could use the money. Seeing my photos on a national TV show would be nice.

Prestige and money.  What’s the problem?

Here’s the problem.

1. Tony and Glenn both were/are friends of mine.  The story of Glenn’s death is not a simple, one-dimensional story and it’s far too personal to trivialize.  The fact that they’re shooting their “reality” show during Tony’s trial is not a coincidence, and is insidious.

2. There is a rich, nuanced and fascinating story to be told about Terlingua. The people who live here and the culture we’ve created are unique and valuable. It would be good for the rest of the world to know that such a place exists.

The Terlingua they describe in their synopsis bears no similarity to the place where I live.

Unfortunately, the producers of this show aren’t interested in the story of Terlingua.

Here’s my reply:


No.  We have nothing to talk about.  You do not have my permission to use any of my intellectual property or content, including photographs and videos, for any purpose at all- and specifically not in a reality show.

Especially THIS reality show.  From your synopsis, it’s obvious that you’re starting with a false premise and are going to create your “reality” show to fit that premise, regardless of how far away from reality that premise is. Exploiting Glenn’s murder and Tony’s trial for profit and cheap sensationalism is inexcusable.

I’m especially irritated that you want to create a narrative that focuses on how Glenn’s death has “torn the community apart.”  It has done no such thing.

There is a good story to be told about Terlingua, its people and its history.  This reality show isn’t it.


Pat O’Bryan

Saying goodbye to Glenn Felts

On Saturday, 2/22/14, Terlingua said good-bye to Glenn Felts in a fashion he would have approved of.

There was a wake/party at La Kiva with live music, beverages, and a delicious pot-luck dinner.

Terlinguans from all over the country travelled to gather one last time.  Friends who hadn’t seen each other in years hugged.  There were tears, laughter, and dancing.

Attendance was limited to close friends and family.  Glenn was much loved and had a lot of friends. The parking lot was full.  There were cars parked along the road.  The club was packed.

As the sun dropped low in the sky, shots of Glenn’s favorite drink – 12 year old Macallen single-malt scotch – were passed out to all attendees and we gathered for a final toast to Glenn.

Gumby walked to the microphone and, raised his glass, and said, “To Glenn.  He was my brother.  I loved him.  He loved all of you.”


pot-luck dinner…

Just Us Girls (JUGS) held a reunion

the world-famous penisaurus erectus

Continue reading “Saying goodbye to Glenn Felts”

Remembering Glenn Felts –

There was no stronger supporter of the Terlingua Music scene than Glenn Felts, the owner of La Kiva bar and restaurant.  

Glen Felts at the Chili Cook-off
Glen Felts at the Chili Cook-off

When Glenn died Monday night, it left a huge, Texan leprechaun-sized hole in our community.   Glenn and his friendly grin had presided at La Kiva for years, overseeing some amazing parties, out-door concerts, and 17 years of Wednesday open mics.  He could always be counted on to slip a musician a plate of his prize-winning BBQ or a beer. He loved music and musicians, and every player who had the privilege to play his stage knew it.

On a personal note, last Wednesday’s open mic was pretty magical.  Butch Hancock, Laird Considine, Charlotte Teer, Trevor Hickle and I played the first set to a full house.  After our set, Glenn called me over.  He had heard about my efforts to raise money for the local food bank.  He offered to contribute $420 a month to buy groceries for the food bank to distribute.  He had some great ideas, including opening up his restaurant once a month for a free meal for his hungry neighbors.

Since the food bank only needs $400 a month to meet it’s minimum goals, Glenn basically offered to fund the food bank by himself.  I couldn’t help myself- I gave him a big hug and teared up.  Terlingua people are a proud bunch.  The people who need the food bank are predominantly children and disabled adults.  Glenn was not going to allow hungry children in his town.

That was the last time I saw him.

Tonight, the community gathered in the parking lot of La Kiva to honor and celebrate Glenn.  There had been music at La Kiva every Wednesday night for 17 years.  Although the club was closed, musicians and friends braved the cold to sing, hug, cry, and tell stories about their time with Glenn outside the club.

The Sheriff’s department had cordoned off the parking lot.  The crowd gathered on the shoulder of the road across the street from La Kiva.  A decision was made, and the gathering walked across the parking lot and gathered outside the club.  It was cold and windy, but soon that chilly wind was carrying the sounds of guitars, mandolins, bass, saxophone,  viola and voices that weren’t quite ready to say a final good-bye to 17 years of music on Wednesdays – or to Glenn.



The Sheriff’s Department blocked the entrance to La Kiva.

hugs and tears

Continue reading “Remembering Glenn Felts –”