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November 23, 2014

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Answers: Clark County:

Clark County coroner’s office the setting for a reality TV show?

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Clark County Coroner Mike Murphy stands n the back of the courtroom with Assistant Coroner John Fudenberg during the fifth day of the coroner's inquest for Erik Scott at the Regional Justice Center September 27, 2010.

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John Cahill, Clark County's public administrator, goes to the homes of the recently deceased, takes inventory and carts away possessions.

We all meet death one way or another. But do we really want to watch it week after week, then day after day if it goes into syndication?

The question arises because the Clark County Commission this week will consider a proposal that focuses on this issue.

You mean elected officials will be making some kind of proclamation that there is, or isn’t, an afterlife?

Nothing so high-minded or, in some views, fanciful. A video crew wants to pay the county $5,000 per episode to follow employees of the Clark County coroner’s office as they go about their business investigating “all deaths by violence, criminal means, suicide or any unattended death whatever the cause.”

That seems unprecedented.

Not entirely. A pilot was made of a reality TV show about Clark County’s public administrator’s office. This is the office responsible for, among another things, holding onto property that may be the focus of a legal dispute after someone’s death.

Dr. G: Medical Examiner” is a reality TV show that features investigations of unexplained deaths in Orlando, Fla. That show uses re-enactments to portray incidents leading to a death.

If videographers were allowed to go everywhere with Clark County coroners, they would likely have to do re-enactments of certain scenes, said John Fudenberg, Clark County assistant coroner.

Fudenberg added that Clark County’s coroner’s office has a stellar reputation nationwide and “we’d be happy to show off what we do and what our staff goes through.”

“But definitely, no one would have unrestricted access to death scenes,” he said.

Why did he say that?

Because there is some question about the proposed contract between the county and reality TV producers. On the commission’s agenda, the summary says “the attached agreement … specifies terms and conditions relating to the producer’s access to the coroner’s office and unrestricted death scenes.”

Fudenberg stressed: That does not mean videographers would have unrestricted access to death scenes. Instead, it means they would have access “to death scenes that are unrestricted.” Presumably, that means the investigator could deem certain scenes off-limits to filming.

The agreement indicates that before a show is broadcast, producers would need consent from law enforcement, the family of the deceased and anyone who was filmed, including county employees. In addition, producers would have to provide “rough cuts” of the show to the county for review before it airs for factual accuracy, to ensure it doesn’t show proprietary material, does not compromise community safety and does not cast the county in a bad light.

Do you actually believe the family of someone who just died is going to agree to let their loved one’s death story be portrayed on national television?

Are you for real? Have you seen reality TV?

Which network would broadcast the show?

The Discovery Channel. A pilot and possibly six episodes would be produced.

Did the Clark County public administrator’s show ever air?

Not yet. A county spokesman said a pilot for the program, tentatively called “Vegas PA,” was shot and is in the hands of the National Geographic network. No date for airing has been set.

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  1. I'm thinkin Clark County needs to pass on this one

  2. It can be handled like crime reporting, specific scenes handled discretely. The producers must surely be mindful of the potential for lawsuits if they cross over the line, especially in litigious Las Vegas. The county can use the money certainly, the burden of keeping things respectful and not too sensational seems to rest with the producers. I say go for it.

  3. Let them continue to follow the LA County Coroner. I agree with Kevin, Las Vegas needs to pass on this one.