Dee Haslam wears all sorts of different hats. And she wears them well.
She's the CEO and founder of RIVR, a production company that has created groundbreaking tv series and reality TV shows with cult followings – Trading Spaces, Whale Wars and the World Series of Poker to name a few. She's the President of the Cleveland Browns Foundation, where she's quietly becoming a fixture in the community for involvement in trying to create tangible change and for her dedicated charity work. She's also the wife of team owner Jimmy Haslam, playing an integral role in the ownership group with a passionate interest in the football team.
Fat Guys in the Woods is Haslam's latest reality TV project conceived by her production company RIVR. The show debuts this Sunday on the Weather Channel at 10 p.m. and it has people talking.
The title of this new show is what has Twitter and Facebook abuzz. Fat Guys in the Woods makes you think it's some combination of The Biggest Loser and Man vs. Wild. Yes, there are fat guys on the show, but the series is not about losing weight or hunting down wild animals. The show teaches the everyday beer-belly American dad there's so much more they could be doing with their lives.
"The show is more inspirational than you would think," said Haslam. "Get off the couch and get going. Learning survival skills is one of the most interesting things you can do. Learning how to make fire. Learning how to build shelter. These aren't experts doing it either, so it's fascinating to see these men try and figure it all out."
For reality television to work, Haslam says you need small production crews in the field. Fat Guys in the Woods features just that. Often times the characters on the show have go-pro cameras attached to their heads and are completely on their own in the middle of the night. The show was filmed in the woods of Tennessee and Haslam did drop by several times to check and see how filming went. She thinks many people will relate to her latest programming push.
"I think what we lack is time alone," said Haslam about today's culture. "We are either online, or watching TV. We are so tied to technology. When you are outside by yourself for a period of time – and these guys are out there for a week – they are able to think and get in touch with themselves. Half the battle of the show was getting these guys to think about their lives. It's mostly mental, it's physical too, but the mental part is the most gripping."
Haslam keeps her eye on other hit reality programs because often times they spark innovative ideas. But mostly in her household, she's watching football.
"NFL Network. ESPN. All things football I'm going to like," said Haslam. "Most anything on the NFL network I will like. If we are watching TV, we are usually watching sports programming."