Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Must see TV: Michigan

Hollywood loves Michigan! Okay, maybe not Hollywood per se, but film crews from the Discovery Channel and Travel Channel appear to be smitten by our Midwestern charm.

The Travel Channel show “Best Places To Find Cash and Treasures” just wound up a 10-day-shoot in Dollar Bay and Houghton after the crew excavated copper at the Caledonia Mine in Ontonagon. The episode will be eighth in their new fall season. I'm not familiar with this show, but because of the Michigan connection I've added it to my "must see TV" list. (Check out the Travel Channel's Anthony Bourdain too. Maybe we can sell him on filming a show about Michigan's culinary and cultural charms. Our wineries are to die for!)

The Discovery Channel has been busy here too. Back in May, the zany and informative "Mythbusters" gathered to test an urban legend at Kalitta Air in Oscoda.
In this case, the question centered on whether a jet engine will flip over a passing vehicle.

''We get a lot of our ideas from fans, but this one came from a story circulating on the Internet,'' explained Tod Mesirow, the show's U.S. series producer. ''The report said that an errant taxi driver drove behind a jet in Brazil. The engine's force flipped the cab over.'' [...]

Yet the cab test wasn't entertainment enough for Byron and her mates. The San Francisco team super-sized Tuesday's experiment by towing an Oscoda School bus, and then a single-engine airplane, into the 747 blast zone.
The results are top secret so you'll have to tune in this fall to see if the myth was busted, plausible, or confirmed.

The TV show I'm most looking forward to is "Dirty Jobs" with Mike Rowe. In May, the program filmed Mike tackling the Mighty Mackinaw Bridge. [Picture courtesy Wikipedia]
[...] The hour-long Mackinac Bridge episode, entitled “Bridge Painter,” is airing in conjunction with the bridge's 50-year anniversary.

While Rowe has done his share of jobs that have left him up to his thighs in mud, splattered with goo and decked out in a variety of grubby hardhats, gloves and rubber boots, bridge officials told Rowe the work on the bridge is an entirely different challenge.

“I would describe our maintenance activities as daunting or difficult, as opposed to dirty,” said Mackinac Bridge Authority Administrator Bob Sweeney. “It takes a certain person to meet the challenges of the job.”

The show is expected to focus on workers painting the huge cables that run along the bridge or doing maintenance inside one of the bridge towers, which soar 552 feet over the water, officials said.
Sweeney's observation, “It takes a certain person to meet the challenges of the job,” is no understatement. It takes a certain person to meet the challenges of driving across the bridge! The Mackinaw Bridge is approximately 5 miles long and the height of the roadway at mid-span is approximately 200 feet above water level, and on a real windy day the bridge is designed to move as much as 35 feet east or west. I've crossed the bridge under those white-knuckle conditions and can attest that it's definitely scary.

To give you a feel for just how high the bridge is, check out these photos of the "Dirty Job" crew filming Mike Rowe above the water, particularly image #14. But to see what Mike thought of this job, you'll have to watch "Bridge Painter" which airs on August 7 at 9 p.m.

In fact, make a point to watch all three shows and see for yourself why people love Michigan.


Cathleen said...

Looking forward to the Bridge Painter. I, too, have driven across in less than ideal conditions- and it's very scary. I can't imagine trying to paint it.

Great post!

Mensch71 said...

How cool!!! And yes... we totally need to bring Bourdain here for a tour of Michigan food, wines, beers and oddly named bars. I'll help organize it if you'll join me. :)

If you haven't done so already, make sure to post this up over on www.asbolutemichigan.com. This is great stuff!

Kathy said...

Cathleen, you wouldn't get me up there either!

Mensch71, I link to absolutemichigan.com but don't know how to post there. Is there a diary link?

If you organize something to bring Bourdain to Michigan, I'll do what I can to help. I know what you mean about oddly named bars. "Bucket of Blood" in Houghton County comes to mind!

Mensch71 said...


You can send your story idea to: absolutemichigan@gmail.com. I actually emailed Andy McFarlane (the editor/owner) directly and told him what a great post it was already. But you have to submit your own work.

I adore the "Wuh Bar" in Norway, as in "Say Wuh?". Maybe it's just the UP that he needs to tour...

Larry said...

I'll have to check it out but I know I don't want near the bridge in bad weather.

CEW said...

The bridge moves 35 feet east or west in the wind?! That's exactly the sort thing I didn't want to know. It was scary enough not knowing and driving it in the wind.

How does that movement work? How was that engineered?
Great post.

Kathy said...

Larry, the Bridge Authority closes the bridge when the weather becomes too severe to safely cross it, but their interpretation of "too severe" and mine are miles apart!

CEW, if you click the Mackinaw Bridge link in the third paragraph from the end of the post, it gives information about the 35 foot sway. I have no idea how it was engineered, but I crossed the bridge once during bad weather and swore I could feel it move. My dauntless husband said I was crazy (probably because I was screaming all the way across!).

farlane said...

Boy am I slow!

Here's our posting linking to your great post:
Michigan TV Time!

I also got some sweet photos of the filming from the Mackinac Island Visitor's Bureau!

Kathy said...

Farlane, thanks so much for the link. The pictures are awesome!