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Hatfield-McCoy kin sought for reality TV show

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Descendants of the Hatfield and McCoy families have a chance to audition for a reality television show that will be filmed in the Tug Valley.

The show will set five to 10 members of each family against one another in a competition to create businesses around their history, said Bill Richardson, West Virginia University Extension agent who is involved with casting for the show. He didn't want to give specific examples of the kinds of businesses people might create.

Richardson said the show won't have a clear winner, but it should feature "a back-and-forth kind of a rivalry," where each team will know how the other is doing.

"You can never completely predict the way this will go," he said.

Richardson is not allowed to name the show's production company, but the company has produced shows and documentaries for A&E, the National Geographic Channel, the History Channel, Syfy and MTV.

The casting call will be held Tuesday from 1 to 8 p.m. at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College's Williamson campus. Participants can arrive at any time. They will have their photos taken and then spend five to 10 minutes talking with producers and answering questions.

"This is not a time to be shy or put your light under a basket," Richardson said.

Because the show is character-driven and ultimately about entertainment, the producers are looking for people who are "interesting," meaning they have strong personalities or personalities that clash with other people who will be on the show, Richardson said. Show participants must be between the ages of 15 and 85.

If selected, cast members will be required to prove their lineage to a member of the Hatfield or McCoy clans through a family tree.

Richardson said he didn't know how much time participants would be expected to commit to the show or whether they would be paid. He did say, however, that cast members would be the beneficiaries of the businesses they create.

"If they succeed," he said, "they reap the rewards of that."

Richardson said many details about the show are undecided, including when it might air.

Part of the show's purpose is to paint Appalachia in a positive light, but the other reason for the competition is to maintain people's interests in the Hatfield-McCoy area.

"In six months, people will forget us again," he said. "At [a] minimum, we get another year of people paying attention to this."

Reach Alison Matas at alison.matas@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.


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