ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - A new reality television show filmed in St. Louis has some people denouncing it, even though the first episode has yet to air.
It`s called Salvage City, and features Cherokee Street businessman Sam Coffey and crew going around St. Louis, breaking into abandoned historic buildings and scrounging for hidden treasures he can repurpose and then resell from his shop on Cherokee Street, called The Factory.
It is something he has been doing for years, but last winter, he did it with a Discovery Channel camera crew in tow.
"Am I breaking the law?" Coffey asked rhetorically. "I think it is on a case by case basis. Sometimes I probably am."
So why would a network like the Discovery Channel agree to televise crimes in progress?
The simple answer is it would not.
"It is legal for the production of the show," explained Charie Smith, whose St. Louis based company No Coast Productions co-produces the show. "We have to have everything kind of signed off and sealed up by the time it goes on air so nothing can come back on us," he said.
In other words, the reality of this reality show is the property owners said okay.
Still the producers say the dangers portrayed are real.
"If a pigeon lands in the wrong place in one of these buildings the whole thing is going to come down," said Aaron Bowden of Coolfire Originals, the other local company producing the show.
But real or not, it`s a concept Andrew Weil, Executive Director of the Landmarks Association of St. Louis finds troubling.
"I am concerned about the program possibly glorifying and also spreading the word about the opportunity that there is no enforcement nobody cares if you do stuff like this," Weil said.
Coffey insists he does not remove features of the buildings themselves, like someone did when they stole the terracotta masks off the Sun Theater in Grand Center.
But Coffey had no problem swiping a bowling pinsetter from that same building and turning it into a whiskey rack, which now sits in the production company`s office.
"If I have to break the law to do it, I absolutely see a greater good," Coffey said.
The idea of stealing something to save it is sure to be controversial. But of course that`s the plan.
"It has enough controversy in it that it is going to get people excited and talking about it which is really what we want right now," said Smith.
So far, there are only three episodes of the show. They will be broadcast back to back this Sunday at 10 A.M. on the Discovery Channel.
Read more: Discovery Channel to Premiere 3-Part Series SALVAGE CITY, 12/22
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