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October 25, 2014

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County agrees to reality show for coroner’s office

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Clark County Coroner Mike Murphy listens to testimony during a coroner's inquest at the Regional Justice Center Thursday, September 23, 2010.

The science of figuring out how someone died will be the true focus of a “reality” TV show featuring the Clark County coroner’s office.

At least that’s what Coroner Michael Murphy told commissioners considering the approval of a contract to allow videographers to hang around with coroner investigators for a show that could be broadcast on the Discovery Channel.

Murphy said that although his office has been contacted by others for similar shows, he worked with Discovery because it was the only one to let the county view the show before it airs.

By contract, the county will be allowed to ensure the show does not show confidential or proprietary information, and it does not cast the county in a bad light.

In addition, Murphy said investigators who have to tell family members of a death would not wear microphones and the video crews would not show up at someone’s doorstep with an investigator who is making that sad announcement.

Murphy anticipated a lot of re-enactments in the show, since gruesome death scenes are not likely to be filmed. And twice he said that the show’s producers wanted to focus more on the “science” of investigating a death instead of the gory details.

Known for its revolutionary attempts to put names and identities to unidentified bodies — using the Internet, for instance — the coroner’s office also believes the show might help in that effort.

“We believe it can showcase some of the unidentifieds we want identified,” Murphy said.

Commissioners stressed sensitivity to survivors but generally liked the idea.

“I believe it would be done in a professional manner,” Commissioner Lawrence Weekly said. “I don’t see any harm.”

Commissioners unanimously approved the agreement with Discovery Studios.

The county would be paid $5,000 per episode. Initial plans are to produce a pilot, then possibly six episodes.

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