Somebody’s Gotta Make It Real

Dear NPR –

Last week, while googling myself on a random Thursday evening, I was alerted to the attached photo. It was taken approximately five seconds before the shark behind me attempted to bite my mask off, and six seconds before I filled my stainless steel shark suit with a pint of my own urine.

While the photo brought back a rush of jolly memories, I was a bit shocked to see it in a slideshow next to a headline that read, “When Wildlife Documentaries Jump the Shark.”
The article that followed bemoaned the state of today’s non-fiction programming, and said some rather unflattering things about producers and networks who deliberately mislead their audience. Happily, I wasn’t mentioned by name. At least, not in the article. My face however, was on full display, and the caption below it read as follows:

“Mike Rowe scubas in protective underwater gear as he hosts an episode of Discovery Channel’s ‘Shark Week.’ Critics say sensationalized wildlife documentaries, like some of those broadcast during Shark Week, do more harm than good.”

I know the truth is important to NPR, so I hope you won’t mind if I clear up some potential confusion. The last time I hosted Shark Week was 2008. The photo you posted is 8 years old, and while I admit the composition and quality are both first-rate, I can’t help but wonder if someone else’s image – maybe someone currently associated with Shark Week or actually employed by Discovery – might have made more sense. Especially in an article whose fundamental point is to chastise networks for deliberately confusing their viewers.

As you may have heard, (or maybe not) I have a new show called “Somebody’s Gotta Do It.” As with Dirty Jobs, nothing will be faked or staged or manipulated. There will be no scripts, no actors, and no second takes. It will likely not be the most exciting or the most dangerous show in the history of cable television. (It will certainly not be the dirtiest.) But it will be honest. And, like every Shark Week segment I ever hosted, it will be completely unscripted, and totally real.

If you’d like to write an article about that, drop me a line and I’ll send you a photo from the current decade. The show premieres on CNN, early October, tentatively October 8th, 9pm-ish. (Pending breaking news.)


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