From the creators of the hit series Duck Dynasty, Gurney Productions takes us out of the swamp and into the hills for the comedic Discovery Channel series Porter Ridge.
On the Ridge, playing with bears, holding family demolition derbies and wearing a shirt is optional, but their code of life is simple: respect the lord, love your family and watch each other’s backs.
Meet the folks of Porter Ridge, a tight-knit community of colorful characters that are unlike any other on Discovery channel on Tuesdays at 10:30 PM ET/PT.
Tucked away in the rolling hills of Indiana, far from big city life, this isolated, lawless community lives by its own set of rules. The eccentric band of misfits in Porter Ridge often butt heads but ultimately join together to keep their unique “Hilljack” way of life afloat. Although their lifestyle may not be acceptable by most people’s standards, you can’t help but laugh at all the crazy antics that are an everyday occurrence on Porter Ridge.
The Porter Ridge cast includes:
Terry Porter: CEO and owner of Country Auto Parts, an auto junkyard, Terry is the fast-talking, shirtless, wild man in charge of the most legendary business on the Ridge. Having spent his entire life on the Ridge, he fancies himself the true leader of this backwoods clan but often times proves that he’s not suited to lead much beyond a scrapyard negotiation. For Terry Porter, it’s all about the next race, the next repo, the next get rich quick idea and whatever it takes to beat his longtime rivals from over on Dog Killer Ridge.
The folks of Porter Ridge are a tight-knit community of colorful characters that are unlike any other on Discovery channel
Jeff Watson: The Bear Man, has lived on the Ridge almost 20-years with a backyard full of bears. He has eight, truffle hunting, Brown Bears as companions. Jeff Watson treats his bears like family, and has a genuine affection for these powerful animals. Unfortunately, the other guys on the Ridge don’t always have the same love for these 1,500-pound beasts.
Dirty Andy: The scrappy scrapper, Dirty Andy is a renowned hustler on the ridge. Always looking for a way to make a buck, he and Terry Porter don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to doing deals. Whether it’s an old lawnmower or a rusty trampoline, there is nothing that Dirty Andy can’t turn to cash. He may look like Santa Claus, but this heavy-set hilljack definitely doesn’t smell like Christmas.
Kayla Wood: A local ridge girl herself, this country calendar model may look like the girl next door but she is as feisty as they come and negotiates with the best of them. While she’s supposed to be selling parts, Kayla Wood ends up spending most of her days trying to keep Terry Porter from sinking his business like the Titanic.
Danny Bob: The most longstanding employee of Country Auto, a whiz with a blowtorch, and one of Terry Porter’s closest friends. He’s a no-nonsense, wisecracking, ex-Army, guy who can fix just about anything with an engine. Danny Bob also has a handful of ex-wives in his past, including one he married twice – which he says is the definition of “stupid.”
Elvis Larry: The local garbage man, and jack-of-all-trades on the ridge, this Elvis look-alike is a good-natured momma’s boy and an unlikely source of wisdom at times. He will clean your gutters or fix your tractor, and knows all the gossip that’s fit to tell.
Barry Moore: A former tree-climbing and national clogging champion, Barry Moore is everyone’s buddy. He’s a cool character who rarely gets ruffled, and prides himself on his quick wit and first class mullet.
Rusty Porter: Rusty learned from the best, since he’s the 13-year old son of Terry Porter and around these parts he’s the face of trouble as he’s often up to no good. He has every kid’s dream life where instead of Matchbox cars, he gets to drive a full size lifter and crush actual automobiles.
Dog Killer Ridge: The rivals from the next ridge over, the men of Dog Killer Ridge only have one thing in common with what they feel are their inferior neighbors on Porter Ridge, the need for speed in a hunk of junk. They might only live a few miles away, but they are worlds apart. They feel it’s their God-given responsibility to let the Porter Ridge clan know at every opportunity just who is top dog around these parts – DKR (Dog Killer Ridge).
Porter Ridge’s Terry Porter and Jeff Watson say they’re happy in the rolling hollows of Southern Indiana, but the money’s no good.
Terry Porter owns a junkyard on Porter Ridge Road, a winding route about 15 miles west of Bloomington, Indiana. Jeff Watson lives next door, with eight brown bears he owns and trains. Country Auto Parts rarely turns a profit, according to Terry Porter, who’s usually bare-chested before, during and after office hours. Far removed from Hollywood, Jeff Watson doesn’t find much TV or movie work for his animals.
“Jeff basically told me, <<My business is dying>>,” Terry Porter said.
“I said, <<Mine is the same way>>. ”
Jeff Watson dreamed up new hope for the duo, plus quite a few friends in rural Owen County, by pitching a reality series to the makers of cable-TV sensation Duck Dynasty.
The bear man’s entertainment resume includes acting in the 2008 independent film Grizzly Park and assisting with animal appearances on The Tonight Show and Good Morning America.
Discovery’s new series Porter Ridge, starring Terry Porter and Jeff Watson, represents a serious financial lifeline for its cast.
Otherwise, Terry Porter wouldn’t be sharing with America his tanned upper torso and hard-to-follow dialect.
“I don’t want to be famous, don’t want to be a dadgum movie star,” Terry Porter said of his initial reluctance to be part of the show.
“But you gotta do what you gotta do type of thing.”
In contrast to Duck Dynasty, the A&E’s reality hit centered on the owners of lucrative hunting supply company Duck Commander, Porter Ridge isn’t based on wealth, accomplishment or celebrity.
Porter Ridge is a self-made sideshow featuring shirtless Terry Porter, bear whisperer Jeff Watson and a band of bearded outsiders. They’re modern-day “Beverly Hillbillies” who never relocated to L.A.
Among the true-life characters who congregate at Country Auto Parts is “Dirty” Andy Minnick, who makes ends meet by selling scrap metal from old lawn mowers, rusty trampolines and other items.
Like Jeff Watson, Andy Minnick worked at the General Electric refrigerator plant in Bloomington before being laid off.
Porter Ridge is a self-made sideshow featuring shirtless Terry Porter, bear whisperer Jeff Watson, Kayla Wood and a band of bearded outsiders
Andy Minnick refers to himself as a “hilljack” and doesn’t view the term as an insult.
“We’re representing ourselves,” he said.
“We’re not representing the community, as such. I hope [viewers] realize that you don’t have to do a 9 to 5 every day to make a living. There’s other ways around it.”
Porter Ridge cast members don’t talk about their compensation for doing the show. Terry Porter said the series hasn’t significantly changed his finances, but he’s looking forward to the exposure Country Auto Parts will receive.
“I spend $8,000 a year advertising,” he said.
“If I can get free advertising – and lunch – you know what I’m saying?”
Reality shows that become hits deliver far more than complimentary catering for cast members.
Members of Duck Dynasty’s Robertson family reportedly sought $200,000 per episode after the series ranked as cable television’s No. 1 “nonfiction” program for 2012, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Of all the attention surrounding Porter Ridge, Terry Porter said he’s most flustered by an online business directory, ChamberOfCommerce.com, that lists Country Auto Parts as doing more than $2 million in sales volume per year.
“I would really like to know where that banking account is,” Terry Porter said.
“Because I wouldn’t have any clue.”
Terry Porter said Country Auto Parts did about $80,000 in sales in 2012, enough for him to pay two full-time employees and keep up with house payments.
As Jeff Watson recognized when hatching the idea for Porter Ridge, his entrepreneur friend is a “show in and of himself”.
Prone to making bold statements greeted by vacant stares, Terry Porter is a malapropism artist in the tradition of baseball great Yogi Berra.
“If nobody’s there, we have quite a few people,” Terry Porter said of car races at his private dirt track.
Not everyone on Porter Ridge Road embraced the production crew that made two episodes of the show last fall and another 10 episodes this spring.
“I have a neighbor across the street, and he says if you bring a camera over there you’ll be wearing it home,” Jeff Watson said.
“He’d be a great addition to the cast, but he doesn’t want to be on camera.”
Andy Minnick rejected any suggestion that situations depicted on Porter Ridge are scripted.
“Jeff has bears in his backyard,” he said.
“Terry has a figure-eight racetrack in his backyard. This is a real junkyard.”
For brains and looks, Porter Ridge boasts Kayla Wood, the part-time office manager at Country Auto Parts. The Indiana University senior (majoring in health administration) is framed as the cast’s attractive tomboy.
Kayla Wood grew up on Porter Ridge Road, where she drove ATVs and fished.
She said IU’s Bloomington campus isn’t far away in miles, but quite a distance in lifestyles.
“When you talk about what [students] did growing up versus what I did growing up, it’s completely opposite,” Kayla Wood said.
“Especially people who aren’t from Indiana.”
Porter Ridge may not dispel negative stereotypes associated with Southern Indiana, particularly ones related to education, broken-down vehicles and questionable fashion decisions. But Discovery Channel executive producer Joe Weinstock said Porter Ridge isn’t designed to make Hoosiers look bad.
“When people see the show, I believe they’re going to come away feeling pretty darn good,” Joe Weinstock said.
“It has a lot of heart. In the end, these neighbors who all unite and live on Porter Ridge Road love each other.”
Jeff Watson said Porter Ridge can be a positive for its cast.
“I hope [the show] translates into better times for people,” Jeff Watson said.
“The economy is tough. I hope this junkyard takes off; I hope it really helps Terry out. Nobody here is going to be a star, and nobody is going to consider themselves a star from this.”
Porter Ridge, which makes its debut on the Discovery Channel on Tuesday night, is a reality show from the makers of Duck Dynasty, A&E’s daffy, delightful ratings juggernaut, which begins its fourth season on Wednesday.
Docu-series Porter Ridge, set in a remote area of Indiana, follows an isolated community which, according to the network, follows three rules: respect the Lord, love your family and watch each other’s backs.
In the premiere episode of Porter Ridge we meet Terry Porter and the gang as they take on a repo mission confronting their rivals, the Dog Killer Ridge crew.
Porter Ridge has the same problem most shows in this genre have: Everyone’s trying too hard. The show looks in on a backwoods microcosm in Indiana. Terry Porter, who seems to own no shirts, runs an auto junkyard.
Porter Ridge makes its debut on the Discovery Channel
Jeff Watson, whose beard is somewhat better trimmed than the well-known ones on Duck Dynasty, keeps bears as pets, though, in the premiere, it is not clear why. Assorted other characters with supposed-to-be-idiosyncratic names are also drifting about: Dirty Andy, another big-bearded fellow; Elvis Larry, who has the Elvis sideburns. There’s a rival junkyard on a rival ridge – Dog Killer Ridge, to be exact.
Wacky names and deep-woods dialect (subtitles are occasionally used in Porter Ridge) are all over reality television, and they’re amusing for about 15 minutes. That’s how long it takes to realize that life in a junkyard universe isn’t all that interesting if the people aren’t interesting themselves.
There is occasional wit in Porter Ridge, as when Terry Porter’s wife, Carrie, expresses a desire for a vacation.
“How long has it been since you’ve taken me on a trip?” Carrie asks Terry.
“Didn’t I take you to the Iron Skillet a week ago?” he says.
But those modest flourishes are few and far between; mostly, you’re just supposed to gawk at the rusticness of it all and be amused by antics like trying to open an old safe by dynamiting it.
Duck Dynasty’s producers are dishing out another family show – Porter Ridge – this time for Discovery Channel.
Porter Ridge features a tight-knit community whose code is simple: “Respect the Lord, love your family and watch each other’s backs.”
Scott Gurney, who is the executive producer for both Duck Dynasty and Porter Ridge, said he expects new show will appeal to a similar demographic.
“This is great show for families to watch,” Scott Gurney told FOX411.
“It’s a great show for all ages and for males and females. That’s one of the things that’s great about <<Duck Dynasty>>, it has such a broad audience, and I think this show will do the same thing.”
Fans of the A&E series about the Robertson family members who work together to produce duck calls has often praised the show for its good, clean message and family-friendly plot lines.
Duck Dynasty ends each episode with a prayer.
“We don’t tap into the religion as much in this show. It’s more about friendships, relationships and an older way of living… loving your neighbor.”
Still, Scott Gurney said Porter Ridge should also leave viewers with a warm, fuzzy feelings as the episodes come to an end.
Duck Dynasty’s producers are dishing out another family show, Porter Ridge
“I think that one of the big things that people love about <<Duck Dynasty>> is that it’s a positive takeaway, and I think the same thing is going to exist with this series.”
But the similarities likely end there, he declared.
“This is a different show. It’s not <<Duck Dynasty>>… It’s not so much family based and more friendship based.”
The series follows a group of friends – and rivals – living in Southern Indiana, in an area with no rules, no leaders and no streetlights. And yet, somehow everyone manages to get along.
“Cameras follow this interesting culture that if you didn’t see it on TV, you’d honestly think it doesn’t exist,” Scott Gurney said.
Scott Gurney insisted that the series is unscripted – even though it seems implausible that one of the show’s stars shares his home with eight grizzly bears.
Jeff Watson, 48, appears on Porter Ridge and spends his days with his neighbors and with his domesticated bears.
“They’ve been in my house, but they don’t stay in here all the time,” Jeff Watson said of the bears.
It is elements like his pets that make the series so dissimilar to anything else that’s on TV, Jeff Watson said.
“I don’t know if there is anything out there that I can compare this show to. I wouldn’t compare it to <<Duck Dynasty>>. So many people are making that comparison… The only similarity that I would see between our show and <<Duck Dynasty>> is funny characters,” he said.
In fact, Jeff Watson said – if anything – he thinks Porter Ridge is much more reminiscent of TV shows from an earlier time period.
“To me this show is a mixture of <<Dukes of Hazards>> meets <<Little House on the Prairie>>, meets <<The Waltons>>, meets <<Andy Griffith>>.”
And though it’s not a sitcom, Jeff Watson insisted the wholesome reality show wouldn’t be painting a picture of Indiana overall.
“We’re not trying to represent the whole state of Indiana… This is us. We’re just individuals. We’re not in any way trying to say <<this is Indiana>> or <<this is southern Indiana>>.”
Like Scott Gurney, Jeff Watson predicts the show will attract families.
“I’m sure there are people out there who would like to see a show that’s less cussing, more family values, camaraderie, rapport, relationship between the characters, not a lot of fighting between everybody… I think people are getting a little tired of too much drama and they want to see people getting along, and we get along around here.”
Porter Ridge premieres on Discovery Channel on Tuesday, August 13.