Written by Don "Deuce" Gill (email)
posted under 'gold rush alaska'
In retrospect, I think a more fitting title for this post would be “Mining Jimmy Dorsey’s blog, The Glory Hole”. In truth, I'm starting to feel bad for ol’ Jimmy Dorsey, especially after viewing episode 6. Don’t get me wrong, based on the shows editing and how Jimmy has been portrayed throughout the series, I would have honestly most likely been the dude to haul off and take a poke at him. I’m not a fan of that personality style, particularly at work and more so when my families livelihood is on the line. Sorry, but that’s just me. We would probably be toe-to-toe pretty early on.
But, here is the rub: trying to pull apart what is drama and what is real and what was edited to be strung together to create ‘characters’ on a national reality show is far from fair. You can’t project what you saw on the show as the basis of who Jimmy really is. Hell, if someone was bored enough to follow me around with a camera all day long for months on end, editing could make me seem as shrewd and calculating as Keyser Söze (reference to the mastermind in The Usual Suspects. If you haven’t seen it – put it on your to-do list.) Continuing to rip on and make fun of Doresy without hearing his side of the story is wrong. If we as fans of the Gold Rush Alaska series want to get a peek behind the curtain, if we want to better understand who Jimmy really is, what Jimmy really thought, what Jimmy is planning next – you have to go to Jimmy.
Enter “The Glory Hole”, Jimmy Dorsey’s private blog where he gives an insider’s perspective to how the show was conceived, shot, managed, edited and produced. In an effort to provide a more balanced and fair view of Jimmy, I have spent the last day or so pouring over his posts, reading his reader comments and have come up with some interesting nuggets. He answers a lot of questions that many fans have wondered. Let’s start with some of the more obvious questions.
Did the participants in Gold Rush Alaska make money from the Discovery Channel for participating?
According to his post, “Ten Facts About Gold Rush Alaska” Jimmy states that “the Discovery channel never gave Jimmy Dorsey a red cent! And we are still broke albeit for door to door and some real estate sales!” Further in the comments, Jimmy goes on to say that he was promised $1000 an episode, but never received what was agreed to by Todd. In other posts such as, “So we left the mine…” Jimmy alludes that the Hoffman’s were making lots of money from the Discovery Channel series by stating, “Oh not because he didn’t have any money, he made a grip of money from Discovery Channel so the Hoffman’s were not hurting.” In yet another post, Jimmy quotes Todd Hoffman as saying, “Todd kept saying the TV show was the gold mine!”
Like many of the subsequent commenters to these posts, I have to shake my head at the horrible deal that Jimmy negotiated. If indeed it was just a $1000 and episode he missed the boat for sure. But hey, who would have thought that the show would blow up to the size that it did. Not much scratch for such negative exposure for Jimmy and his family.
While I assumed from the beginning that the families were being compensated by the Discovery channel, Todd’s comment about the show being the gold mine really sticks in my craw. The fundamental basis of the show is that the whole grand adventure was all or nothing. If they don’t find gold they lose their shirts. In the comments section of “Getting kicked off the show is what reality lore is made of”, reader danmerica makes the following observation:
I also tend to believe that the families leaving in the last episode was more to do with mid August back to school time than it was no money to feed them.Doesn’t this make perfect sense? They come up after school let’s out may and leave in August.I think the only thing real happening is poor acting.
Jimmy’s response to the comment was, “perceptive you are young jedi”. This response leaves little doubt that it was not the financial pressures mounting on the Hoffman’s decision to have the families leave camp. It was more to the tune that school break was over.
How much gold did the show actually end up pulling for the season?
In Jimmy’s post, “Ten Facts About Gold Rush Alaska”, reader WesM asked that very question. Jimmy responded on Jan. 22nd, 2011 by stating, “I heard 16 oz that were shown on television but the real number is… 28 ounces since these guys are liars. I have an inside source. Anything else you hear is a lie.”
Based on what I have seen through the first six episodes, that low number does not come as a complete shock to me. There was no evidence of sampling or real prospecting anywhere in the series. Their mining style was definitely portrayed as picking a spot to dig a hole close to camp, naming it “The Glory Hole” and going for broke. I don’t grock Jimmy’s accusation that the Hoffman’s were lying about the overall weight they found, unless he is accusing them of something more serious. Doesn’t matter to me either way – 16 ounces or 28 ounces is still a complete miss for the size of equipment they have been running and the location they have to work with.
How much of the Gold Rush: Alaska show was produced and edited versus reality?
There is no quibble in Jimmy’s pronouncement that Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush Alaska is scripted and over-produced all the way through. In his January 22, 2011 post entitled, “Getting kicked off the show is what reality lore is made of” Jimmy shockingly declares:
I am blessed! I was kicked off of a reality show! But I knew it was coming because I read the script.
In a formatted documentary, AKA: Reality Show, the story lines are written by script writers before the characters, (participants) every set foot on location (in our case the mine.) The entire show is scripted, outlined and understood by all the production team but is only revealed to the participants that need to influence the storyline. The storyline is what you see as the viewer and all of the drama that is created is for your ratings which sell the program. I know about the script because I had a sneak peak read in April at the Sandy Airport.
My character from the beginning was as the “greenhorn”, “rookie”, and more deceitfully “outsider” ,”victim” and even possibly “villian?” Todd had multiple meetings with me about how the summer would be hard for me. He was planning on “running plays” as he called them which started with me hitting a car he purchased for the sole purpose of me “accidently” running into. I grew the beard and kept my tooth out which I actually have an implant for not too different from the dentist that was a character on The Hangover. I was OK with the whole idea, as I have been in music entertainment for years! Shoot lets do it I thought!
In other earlier posts, like such as the December 24th entitled “Beaver (not gold) fever at the mine”, Jimmy outlines a typical day of production filled with scripts and reshoots to catch the drama.
The days consisted of reading scripts written by someone back at the editing suite and cutting new scenes to help the first two episodes. More power plays between all of the men for camera time and who gets to use the tools or who drives what truck was getting old. Lunches mainly consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or leftover bear surprise accompanied with Giardia infested Tang.
Will there be a Gold Rush: Alaska season two?
Again referencing back to the post, “Ten Facts About Gold Rush Alaska” in the comments section, when asked about the possibility of a spinoff my commentor JC, Jimmy lets go with this this little gem:
Yes a spin off is not only possible but Discovery and Raw TV had edited my character (from about episode 2) to be a second crew. They were talking to me about running my own plant on B channel as early as June last summer. I can’t say who will get the spin off show but I really am not concerned about that right now. I am working on learning to extract gold from rock, learning leach processes, floatation cells and new types of gravity circuits not to mention explosives and core sample drilling. I am in talks with investors to make my show work and set myself up to get the gold.
Digging further through his posts we find a reader who has spotted ol’ Jimmy poking around mines in southern Oregon. Reader spikemaster commented on Jimmy’s post “Gold Rush Season 2”, with the following question:
I’ve heard from 2 different people that you’re going around OR with a camera crew filming for a show you’re doing this year. They saw you, they talked to you. Is it Discovery or RAWTV again?
Jimmy’s replied to spikemater’s comment on Jan 24th, 2011 by saying, “Confidential. Please don’t say where in Oregon we are filming! I do not want claim jumpers around our mine shaft. I am very concerned for the kids. Also I do not want terrorists to know where they can find explosives”.
Wow, jumping directly from a failed placer mining operation to a production hard rock mine is fricking insanity. Doing this with the least productive person in the crew with absolutely zero experience in mining should be criminal. And what was that bit about seeking investors? Seriously? Who is going to back this guy?
Given Jimmy’s obvious lack of experience and skill, why the heck would they bring him?
That is a question that had been running through my head for the first episode. In reading the Discovery Insider interview with Todd Hoffman, when asked how did he assembled your team for this venture, Todd responded by saying:
Jim Thurber is an old friend from church and Greg Remsburg and I went to junior high and high school together. Jimmy Dorsey is a newer friend. We had not gone on too many adventures before Alaska - I met him through hunting.
This is a very different view that was given by Jimmy in his post, “Why did Todd bring Dorsey?” In this post, Jimmy lays out is that it was all because Todd wanted to eventually start a rock band to play Haines during filming. Um, what the hell? That makes no sense at all. As Jimmy admits, he has no construction experience, limited welding skills, no engineering background to speak of, but gets tapped to go Alaska to mine for go because he can play bass? If true, Todd is the biggest fool in the world.
So, after reading Jimmy’s side of the story what’s my take on Jimmy’s future prospects?
Well, that’s actually a bit tougher to nail down after reading through his blog. While my initial aim was in trying uncover the ‘other side of Jimmy Dorsey’ in reading his own words, I walk away with a bitter taste in my mouth.
Jimmy’s continual barrage against the Hoffman’s and the Discovery channel after the fact, for something that he knew exactly what he was getting himself into in the beginning is infantile at best. In reading through his posts Jimmy comes across as bitter, upset and clearly with the sense that he feels victimized. Comments to his readers are crass, snippy, rude and unwarranted. Seriously, if the negative comments bug you that much, take them down – it is you blog after all. Responding back in kind does nothing more than cement the ‘character’ you were portrayed in the show.
For me, what takes the cake is that if true and Jimmy is indeed attempting to round up investors for a run at hard rock mining which is about 20 times for complex and dangerous that the placer mining they attempted in Alaska, well – buyer beware. He in essence will be setting up the same scheme that he so vehemently railed on the Hoffmans for – creating a reality show about gold prospecting that in reality has nothing to do with reality. While I will definitely be tuning in with interest to watch Jimmy play with a couple of pounds of semtex in his mine, I will be watching it for nothing but the drama.
If Jimmy Doresy is a hard rock miner, then maybe I really am Keyser Söze.