What you saw in the premiere was not a fabricated incident; a solely made-for-TV moment designed for your entertainment, and only your entertainment in mind. No, no. Unlike most of the other “reality” TV we’re all inundated with these days, we present the actual “reality” of what happens during the filming of the series. So yes, Kent really was “defacto-booted” from that flight. It was only pure luck and/or excellent snap-decision making that made his late arrival what it turned out to be. It also was a perfect summation to what had already become a very trying lead-in to the first shoot date of Big Break Indian Wells.
The filming of this series took place from January 3rd - 16th, with “essential crew” (Production Management, Producers, Directors, etc.) arriving on site just a couple of days after Christmas. This window of production time would prove to be…um…difficult. To say that shooting a television series over the holidays is not ideal, is like the Black Night in Monty Python and the Holy Grail saying “it’s just a flesh wound” after having both arms cut off. It’s a wicked understatement.
I spent the holidays with my family, as I usually do, up in Maryland. With my flight out to Indian Wells booked for 7am, the morning of the 28th of December (out of Orlando), the plan was to stay up north thru Christmas Day and fly back to Orlando that evening, leaving a full 2 days to tie up all loose ends before shipping off for the 3-week shoot. Easy, right? Well, as you can expect, things didn’t go as planned. I somehow managed to have three flights cancelled in the span of 24 hours leaving me stranded in Maryland for another two days. With the weather continually deteriorating, I would be lucky to get out on the 27th. Now, 99.9% of the time I would welcome these unexpected extra days with the fam. However, a 7am flight scheduled to leave Orlando on the 28th was looming and there is just simply a ton o’ stuff to accomplish before uprooting yourself for the better part of a month. There’s enough stress during the holidays. This was one kind I had no interest in taking on.
Luckily, the flight I was eventually booked on after the three cancellations was able to get out of Maryland on the 27th. I got back home late that afternoon, took stock of the situation and did what was necessary; changed the flight from 7am to 7pm for the next day. Getting two days of stuff done in a couple hours just wasn’t going to happen. So, all things considered, I really didn’t end up too bad. I made it to Indian Wells. Delayed slightly, but still made it on the target date. Of course, I’d like to say that my ordeal was the only travel snag that our Production Management staff would have to deal with. That would surely not be the case.
Multiple members of the production team hit some minor travel snags on the way (delayed flights coming from the Northeast, missed connections, etc.), but none of great consequence. One of the more extended delays was experienced by our Managing Director, Paul Schlegel. He was stranded in snow-swamped Syracuse, New York for five days…with his in-laws. Without access to wireless internet (apparently the in-laws didn’t have it), he spent each day at the library so he could field emails as the pre-shoot preparations commenced in California. I couldn’t help but laugh when I called him upon my on-site arrival, only to get an immediate email stating, “Can’t talk now. In a library. Call you later.”
Even Robbie (aka: “Shank”) experienced some travel problems himself as can be seen in a GolfChannel.com exclusive. Due to an “equipment problem”, “Shank” got delayed over two hours leaving South Carolina, which left him sprinting to the gate to make his connection to Palm Springs, only to find out that his connecting flight was also delayed because of another “equipment problem”. The plane needed to be switched out with another (smaller) plane in order to get the majority of people out of Phoenix and into Palm Springs. This was the flight that Kent was supposed to be on.
When we got word that Kent didn’t make the flight, we had to figure out in a matter of minutes a new plan for how Show 1 would begin. The original plan was to have two groups of guys arrive at the airport, get their number to the safe, get to Indian Wells, then have John arrive last with the final number to the combination. With Kent now having to arrive by himself, we needed to adjust the day’s production schedule to not only accommodate his now late, lone arrival, but figure out how this would fit into the whole “safe opening” section of the arrivals. So, there were two options. He could be re-booked on a flight which wouldn’t get in until later that evening, or we could rent a car service to drive him from Phoenix to Indian Wells which would get him in just about the same time. So we made our decision. As you saw in tonight’s episode, we got him a car service and he was escorted to Indian Wells (along with our PR guy Jeremy Friedman, who was also “defacto-booted” from the flight). So, why did we decide on that? Story and entertainment value. If we put Kent on a plane, we now lose an ongoing thread (that we can document for TV) for the eventual conclusion to the “what’s in the safe” story. Of course, we got lucky that Kent was one of the guys we sent a FlipCam to before the shoot. We got lucky that Jeremy is such a good sport and agreed without hesitation to shoot pieces of the 4-hour drive with Kent. Heck, we got lucky that having John arrive without a number to the safe combination made the arrivals section that much more interesting.
Ok, so maybe in a way we did fabricate this made-for-TV moment just for the sole reason of entertainment. But that’s what really happened. And honestly, with all the travel tribulations a number of us had to endure just to make it to the shoot, I feel like this “story” represented the true “reality” of what this lead-in to Big Break Indian Wells was truly all about. Holiday travel sucks.