By Laura Butler
A glass eye, two t-bone steaks, an artificial leg, a hunting dog and a cage full of parakeets are not exactly items on everyday grocery lists. However, those are things you might be able to find on the show Pawn Shop Wars in the near future.
Emerson St. John, technical supervisor for the department of communication, is directing what could become a new reality show to air on CMT, MTV or possibly A&E.
Derek Jones, a fellow Colonel graduate and friend of St. John’s, came up with the initial idea for the show in August 2007 based on a pawn shop in Pineville, Ky.
By November, Jones, St. John and pawn shop owner John Slusher began contract negotiations and presented the idea to both CMT and MTV.
Both networks agreed to run a pilot, or “screener,” which will be presented to a target audience as soon as editing is finished in the next couple of weeks.
If the pilot is well received, both sides will work out a new contract for more episodes, which will portray the interesting sales transactions that transpire each day in the pawnshops.
The pawnshop in Pineville will be pitted against a pawnshop in Barbourville.
The crew shot 16 hours of footage in Pineville between Jan. 3 and 5 and, according to St. John, there was never a dull moment.
“I’ve had a really great time shooting this project,” St. John said. “I got to shoot the aerial shots from the bucket on the town’s fire truck; hear some great Willie Nelson songs from a man about to pawn his guitar; and caught some great stories from the men getting their hair cut in the pawn shop.”
St. John also said he hopes the show can break some of the stigmas associated with pawnshops.
“I think the show will help promote some better images about rural communities in Kentucky,” he said.
Students participated in the production of the pilot as well. Darrel Saylor, a senior from Middlesboro, served as the sound technician and Billy Hatfield, a KCTCS student, was the director of photography.
St. John said he was not leery of using students in the production.
“I think it makes for a great experience to include on resumés. If a student’s qualified, I’ll take them. I love to be able to include them in any production I do,” he said.
St. John says he’s anxious to get the ball rolling.
“As soon as I finish up the editing process in the next few days, we’ll launch the screener and hope for the best,” he said. “I think it’s a winner, so keep your eyes peeled.