EP Thom Beers on a Billy Mays-free 'PitchMen,' 'The Colony'
But the reality hit "PitchMen," which premiered to great ratings on Discovery in April 2009, didn't have an ensemble in its first season. It was a buddy show, featuring the professional and personal relationship of infomercial kings Billy Mays and Anthony "Sully" Sullivan, as they crafted ads to showcase the work of entrepreneurs and inventors.
Mays' sudden death on June 28, at the age of 50, threw the future of the show into doubt. Questions were raised whether the show would continue with Sullivan alone, whether Mays' twentysomething son, Billy Mays III, would be involved, and, indeed, whether the show would continue at all.
Last July, Discovery announced the show would return, but little has been announced since then. In a conversation with Zap2it on Tuesday (Feb. 16), executive producer Thom Beers filled in some details for season two, which does not yet have an official premiere date.
"We're in production," Beers said. "It's going fantastic. The inventors are amazing. Obviously, you can't replace Billy. It's the same thing -- I can't replace Phil and I can't replace Billy.
"But the show itself -- inventors and the world -- is so rich. You move on. Sully's doing a great job."
As to the younger Mays, Beers said, "Billy Jr., he's a producer. He produces commercials and spots for Sully. He's not trying to take Billy's role. Billy Sr. got those skills from 30, 40 years of practice.
"I don't really know if he has the heart for it anyway. It's going great."
Beers has another reality show with Discovery returning for a sophomore season.
"The Colony," which premiered in July 2009, followed a group of people trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. They were housed in an empty warehouse and faced challenges in building equipment, getting food and water, and fending off attackers.
According to Beers, season two of "The Colony" shifts location and focus.
"I just signed the contract," Beers said. "We're basically going to shoot down in New Orleans. I just got a whole housing project that was devastated by the hurricane, that we're taking over."
Beers said the location is outside of New Orleans proper, and that he's not basing his scenario on the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina.
"I needed a big, devastated area," he said. "We're not going to relive the hurricane. That's not what it is. It's just a backdrop. I needed a warm, swampy area with a lot of protein in the water -- fish, rats, gators."
Follow Zap2it on Twitter and Facebook for the latest TV, movie and celebrity news.
Thom Beers talks life after Phil Harris
Photo credit: NBC