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

45 Replies to “Terlingua to Reality Show Producers: “HELL NO!””

  1. GREAT REPLY! Yes, you CAN say “NO”. Take it from someone who lives in a beautiful place that 30 years ago was “unknown” …now it is a place folks call *paradise* and *darling*…sometimes in the same sentence! It has been totally “Discovered” and exploited and folks have moved here, only to discover that “paradise’ takes hard work and Walmart ain’t around the corner. It is still a great place to live, but like Terlingua, it is seductive to the outsider –and can easily be thought of as paradise…But in reality is that most folks will never “get it”….especially some group of reality show mongers.

  2. A great reply Pat
    Well said
    These people have no interest in the well being
    Of your community and only want to exploit it
    Stand strong

  3. Pat…My hat is off to you…your values are right on…money and fame talks to many people no matter what the cost…and you aren’t buying that kool-aide.

  4. Clear, to the point, strong…..and, from my pov….masterfully restrained.
    Hoping this whole deal will end up as only the tiniest blip on Terlingua’s screen.
    All good wishes for your community…….

  5. great response. Terlingua is special place, I knew Glen , cooked with him at High Sierra’s event several years. Don’t know tony, but have friends there that do. I haven’t seen any division.

  6. Direct these people to Kelcy Warren the owner of Lajitas. The story that needs to be told is the imminent destruction of the Big Bend by the gas/ oil pipelines already planned, and the damage that will be done by the Fracking on the Mexico side. This is the monster that needs to be exposed by National Geographic.

  7. So this is going to be a show about Glenn’s death? Let’s hope people who have agreed to be filmed will have a re-think and walk away from this BS!

  8. I’m greatful for your insight into their plans. And, for me, reality shows are a non-starter anyway. Thanks again!

  9. I’ve heard they are filming at the Sierra but the new owner of La Kiva is not letting them in! What annoying people these TV people can be. Someone told me it was going to be a serious documentary series rather than a reality show. Any idea what happened to that idea?

  10. By its nature, “Reality” does not depict the real world. Reality programs are basically a little bit of truth wrapped up in fiction. Our community is truth, the way we are and the people we are. There is no place for people down here in our community who make their living on fiction. Good job done Pat.

  11. Thx Pat – I know that everyone will stand tall, as you did, and stonewall these people – not people, vampires. They represent everything about the “civilized world” we have rejected and left behind when we moved to Terlingua.

  12. Bravo brother! You have an exemplary IQ (integrity quotient). Let’s hope our friends who have gotten in on this exploitation of our community’s tragedy see your light. Thank you!

  13. Since I haven’t visited the Big Bend in over six months, and while doing my periodic ‘catchings up’, I just stumbled into this article/subject matter.

    As a Jersey guy who has been visiting quite periodically since the early ’90’s, I take what the Big Bend area has given to you (and me) to the depths of my heart and soul. The VERY special, nearly indescribable tantric nature and relationship between this enveloping place and people has always prompted a love, respect and, perhaps more so, a protective response out of me from day one all of those twenty something years ago. So much so, I have never really ‘opened up’ about it back ‘here’ to anyone including my friends. A bit selfish, perhaps, but for the very reason I just described.

    Pat’s response and, as Laird described, his ‘IQ’ was wonderful, but I would like to inject one minor caveat to his earlier ‘It would be good for the rest of the world to know’ statement (#2).

    In this age there are many other venues to ‘discover’ and have a sense of knowing about Terlingua (and anything else for that matter) without having a ‘sensational’ financially driven TV reality/documentary (yeah.. right) series literally being ‘broadcast’ to the entire world… wrapped around a tragedy.. under the pretense of offering knowledge and furnishing a ‘primer’.

    This production may not be THE final blow, but indeed, through this medium, will open up a Pandora’s box, perhaps acting as a genesis of being one of the first of the final nails.

    I realize that all things change, however, please ….

    Protect this place.. Protect what it has given to us all.

    .. Respectfully

  14. My husband and I have visited twice and ever since the 1st time dreamed of moving there!! It is a beautiful magical place! Not to exploited for murder mystery! You can tell people about it everyday (and we do) but until have the chance to visit and hang out on the porch you will never Get It!!!! Thanks for having the pride to protect!!

  15. Dear Pat ! I applaud You for your response to these people. They have no intention of telling the truth but rather sensationalizing a story that will make their ratings go up. I have seen the program and I have absolutely fallen in love with the landscape and the people . Its hard for me to believe that such a beautiful place exists. I would love to visit there someday. All the best to you. Sincerely James Wilson.

  16. Excellent response to these blood suckers! Only the lowest of humans would exploit a murder victim to line their own pockets. It is very clear that these producers base their lives on one thing- greed. Honesty and truth will never enter their lives as they are abhorrent concepts to them. Nor will morality of any kind.

    I have read about your area for years and have always wanted to visit- someday.

    Until then I send my deepest condolences and prayers for your loss. Keep the Faith!

  17. One last thing- Yo may be able to stop them by filing a suit against them for Fraud. The claim this is a documentary – yet it is obvious not.

    1. a movie or a television or radio program that provides a factual record or report.
    2. A documentary film is a nonfictional motion picture intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record

    Obviously that is not what they are creating. This may fly in “Hollywood” but in the real world it is called Fraud. And since they continually push this as factual proves that it is fraud.

    Just my 2 cents.

  18. I have watched a couple of the episodes and kind of enjoyed it. Still deciding if it is any good. I like the blond with big boobs. Go figure. The mustache guy that is their version of Sam Elliott seems way too much like an actor. He gets a lot of dramatic dialogues. I don’t believe he is real, or at the least is a struggling actor in that town.

    1. as long as you realize that it’s totally scripted and not representative of Terlingua, go ahead and enjoy it. And yes, the mustache guy is a professional actor from Marfa- definitely not from Terlingua. He’s performing a script.

      None of it is “real,” but if you like simplistic, easy to digest morality plays with great scenery it’s not too bad.

  19. Admit probably not as informed as should be to qualify on topic, but read most of comments and was surprised to learn “mustache guy” / one eyed guy? is an actor from town far away? How many actors does town of Marfa have… all seemed like very well reasoned comments so thanks for info.

      1. Lol…and last line hit a little to close to home…only seen through episode 4, (so really don’t know what’s coming), but instinct is to feel in this day and age, anything that marginally gets us thinking about “reality” of criminal justice system has value, and Terlingua is (thankfully) within the United States.

    1. Marfa’s an odd place. Lots of Hollywood people hang out there. Ty- the moustache guy- lives there, now, and owns a bar. He still takes acting gigs.

  20. I grew up in the middle of rural Northern Wisconsin. I knew this show was a bunch of baloney right from the start. I lost several friends when I was younger but not the way it was stated in this TV racket. Nothing made sense to me. Yes, booze was involved in almost every one of those deaths and usually at high speed.

    I grew up in a town where everyone knew one another and where people would fight with their friends after they had a few too many. I did so numerous times myself. I ended up with 26 stitches in my arm after one night of fun and excitement. We were friends the next day if not sore and black and blue.

    I just couldn’t buy the script that was being presented to me with Badlands. Forensic evidence never did add up to me. It was just too hard to believe. Had I been a juror I would have hung the jury by saying that I do not see the intent to murder here. I still don’t. Where was the bartender testimony?

    To be honest all of those folks who participated in that show did the good folks or Terlingua a dis-service. I do not believe that you folks are all that ignorant. Basically, that is the way the NatGeo channel painted you folks. This Yankee does not believe it. Don’t feel like you are the only ones. We have the Fargo TV show going on that paints us as fools. They sure like making fun of us.

    Why don’t these TV ad-slingers make a decent story of the flight of the Nez Perce? I cut the the tracks of the flight of the Nez Perce numerous times on a recent drive through Montana and Idaho and I was moved to tears at White Bird.

    I have my eye on a little mountain in Idaho so I will not be coming to visit Terlingua. I think I understand how you folks feel. Leave us alone. I wish you folks all the best.

  21. I can not believe how ridiculous that trail was, I don’t think he killed him, the injuries were so bad that he would have had to jump off something to hurt him that bad.I believe he was runover by the cook at 4 am. It is the only explanation for the injuries…why would he kill him, they were friends, just doesn’t make sense,Ando I don’t think the cook did it on purpose, she didn’t see him laying there…

  22. I know how you people feel when paradise is lost. I found mine in montana ( big sky country ). I just hope I never lose my place in the sun. Jim

  23. I made the mistake of watching an episode of the show last night.

    I live in Maine and I suppose it was the show’s setting that caught my attention: I spent a fall/winter/spring leading 31-day trips for juvenile offenders through the Big Bend backcountry in 1983/84. The magic of the place has stayed with me ever since (although I passed through Terlingua back then, most of our trips were south-to-north through the park, ending at Lajitas, so it is that place–or at least, its earlier incarnation–I most recall).

    When the episode concluded, I had a strong sense that something about the show’s premise, and the locals on-camera, was fishy and didn’t jibe with what I knew about the area.

    This morning I went looking on the Internets for a local’s unvarnished perspective and found your blog, Pat.

    Yup, my instincts were right.

  24. I am glad to have seen this posting. I am in Norway, & watched the first episode of the Netflix show; Badlands, Texas. I probably won’t watch anymore after reading how the locals feel about the program, as well as feeling a bit silly for not logically recognizing this was an exploitation show… but I must say that my main two reactions to the show were how much I looked forward to coming to your part of Texas after I move back to TX from Norway and how extremely disappointed I was to learn it was the owner of that establishment who had passed. My condolences to his family & to your community. To me this one episode I watched made me learn about the majestic beauty of your community & that their is every reason to still visit such a strong community of people & such a beautiful place without any desire to feed off the sensationalism of this show. Again though, so sorry for your loss.

  25. I went searching after watching the series, because I know these things are never the full story, and often largely fabricated. Thanks for this very different perspective.

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