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Casting company searching for Alaska search-and-rescue volunteers

Ben Anderson

Metal Flowers Media, a media development company based in Hollywood, is seeking Alaskans for yet another Alaska reality show. Tentatively titled "Missing in Alaska," the show focuses on search-and-rescue volunteers in the Last Frontier.

Metal Flowers Media has already helped cast other Alaska-based reality shows, including "Ice Road Truckers" and another upcoming program, currently titled "The Frontiersmen." That show would follow a crew of misfits in an elimination-type program as they try to survive in the Alaska wilderness.

From Metal Flowers Media:

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A major cable network is seeking the most experienced Search and Rescue (SAR) teams in Alaska for a new documentary-style series.  The series will follow these SAR teams in their everyday adventures of saving lives in some of the most harrowing weather and topographical conditions known to man.

The new casting call -- following ones for for "The Frontiersmen" and "Army Wives of Alaska" -- indicates that the Alaska reality blitzkrieg isn't over just yet. Other Alaska reality shows still airing include the Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch," which kicks off its eighth season next month. Still others have come and gone, like "Hook, Line and Sisters," a program about a Colorado family fishing in Alaska in the summer. That show was cancelled after only a few episodes aired in January.

The latest program will tap into a variety of Alaska search and rescue operations. More than 2,000 people were listed as missing in Alaska at some point in 2011, and about 3 percent of them became the target of search-and-rescue operations. But it could be difficult to find cooperative agencies that regularly take part in rescues. Two of the main ones, the Alaska State Troopers and the U.S. Coast Guard, have reality television shows of their own.

Other search and rescue agencies in Alaska are smaller but more specialized, meaning they don't get called out as often. Those include the well-trained Alaska Mountain Rescue Group -- which is called out on an average of 30-40 times a year, but only under the direction of the Alaska State Troopers -- and Alaska Search and Rescue Dogs, an organization that trains dogs to assist in searches. That team helps out with about 20-30 rescues every year.

Both of those are based in Anchorage. Search-and-rescue operations in other parts of the state include Kotzebue's Arctic Circle Search and Rescue, which had a hand in rescuing two missing snowmachiners in early February. Alaska SAR operations are frequently a labor of love, funded through donations and staffed by committed volunteers.

Since the new TV project is in the very early phases, it could fizzle, as some Alaska reality TV shows do.  One program proposed in the very early part of 2011, "Alaska Fishermen's Wives," never materialized. But Metal Flowers Media expressed hope that the right SAR group could make for interesting television.

One thing's for sure -- Alaska's reality TV presence isn't dead yet.

Do you work for a Search and Rescue operation and are interested in being on the program? Contact Sarah Furlong at Metal Flowers Media at sarah(at)metalflowersmedia.com.

Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at)alaskadispatch.com