Storage Wars producer admits scripting lines, moving items between lockers

Storage Wars executive producer Thom Beers admitted writing cast members’ lines and staging storage lockers on the show, but only by “occasionally” moving items from one locker to another. A lawsuit filed this week by one of the show’s stars, Dave Hester, accuses the show of being a “fraud” and “faked.”

Beers said that last summer, during a panel discussion in about reality TV sponsored by the National Geographic Channel. It was held June 18 in Washington, DC, before the debut of his new NatGeo series about antiques, America’s Lost Treasures. The panel was moderated by TV Guide’s Damian Holbrook, and also included me, which is why I’m in the clips below, saying nothing. One of the panelists, Kate O’Hare, mentioned rumors of salting the containers, and Beers said,

“Nope. I can honestly tell you that the stuff found in those containers are found in storage containers. Now what I will tell you this: We have 20, 30 auctions, and so occasionally maybe one piece shows for one auction container, storage locker to another, you know, but that’s as far as we’ll go. That’s, I think, important.”

In other words, since they cannot show 20 or 30 lockers being opened, they’ll move interesting pieces into one locker. That’s not reality, though it’s also not totally fake, either, since the person bid on a locker with those items inside, they just weren’t all in the same locker. If that’s all that happened, it’s far from Hester’s damning accusations that the show is “going so far as to stage entire storage units” or that the production “regularly plants valuable items or memorabilia.”

Earlier, Beers discussed writing cast members’ lines as a substitute for narration. This is pretty obvious on Storage Wars and other series, as the cast members sound different when they’re in interviews because they’re not actors.

“I have to admit: There’s some writing involved. We do it in Storage Wars, we do it in America’s Lost Treasures. … I’m so tired of narration driving story,” Beers said during the National Geographic panel, adding that he uses the cast members to tell and drive their own stories. Roger Catlin asked if he always gives cast members lines, and Beers says they’re fed about half their lines, though producers “allow them to translate what we need to push the story.”

“I have to admit,” Beers said, “what I like about it is there is a little bit of a chance to make a more clever turn of phrase. So, in essence, there is some writing; it is a set-up. It never–it didn’t push the story. The story is the story.”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.