After all of the discord Rick Yemm has expressed regarding the History Channel's hit reality show Ice Road Truckers, one might conclude that Yemm hates the show, but he says that, no, that’s not accurate.
“I don’t dislike the show,” he explains. “I dislike the fact that they represent the show as being real. There’s a big difference between real and reality.”
“The production did do a pretty good job with the show,” he says, “It’s an entertaining show. It’s hard when you were there, and situations aren’t happening anything to what it was. So, you see the frustration of that, as well."
On former IRT star Lisa Kelly v. production:
“I can understand why Lisa wants to make a stand,” he says of his former cast-mate, who fans have been vocal about missing this season. “But the way that production is, well, at the end, production did the same thing. They threw their finger up at her and said, ‘Whatever.’
“It’s funny, because the History Channel—and I try to make that correction as often as I can—it’s not the History Channel. It’s Thom Beers Original Productions that makes all of these decisions, and they give a final product to the History Channel as a show. Everything that they’ve done to me, all the bad stuff and the games and everything, it’s not okay’d by the History Channel. They don’t like to hear that the talent has had this happen to them. They DO like the fact that they get a good show.
“They’re very good at what they do,” he says of the production company. “I wouldn’t even have a problem with any of this, but they try to push the show as real events, real situations, and that’s the furthest thing from the truth.”
Manipulation of the talent is the key, Yemm says.
“I call it the reality TV monster,” he says of the producers' overbearing influence on developing what is finally seen on your screen at home. “Let it happen and it will happen. Don’t alter it and let the show be what it was. Like, the first one, they did a little bit of stuff, but very little; now, it’s all games. They’re trying to contrive it, from the time they get there to the time they leave. And, they don’t have to. The show would still be good; it would actually be better if they didn’t.”
IRT Fame Not All It's Cracked Up to Be
And, on fame?
“It’s funny, because of the way they made me famous, I get more violent threats, get more hate-mail than anything else. People in life seem to love to pick apart someone else and hurt someone else than to say, ‘You did a good job.’ I would have liked to have gotten RICH and famous, because then I wouldn’t have cared if people hated me (laughs).
“They think you’re rich,” he says about the fans, “but why do you think there are a million reality shows out right now?” TV shows with big-name stars take up half of their budget for the season, just paying them, he explains. But, with reality shows, “By the time they’re halfway done with that season, [our show’s producers] have already paid for EVERYTHING we could possibly do,” he laughs. "So, the networks make the money and we get ‘fame.’
“There’s such a low budget given to these shows, it can keep going if the ratings go right into the toilet,” he adds, on how many more seasons Ice Road Truckers has left. “So, it’s all up to the networks, what they decide to do. It’s an internationally popular show. It can keep the show going with no ratings at all in North America. I can see it going for a long time.
“It’s going to make it a harder market,” he says, regarding viewers beginning to understand just how much of reality TV is not reality, “but there’s still going to be people that’s gonna watch for the entertainment value. They know it is entertaining.”
Production Promises Made to Be Broken
A lot of promises made are broken once a season wraps, he found early on.
“I think me and Dave get along so well because we got the same treatment from the production people,” he laughs, shaking his head. “It’s all promises until they’re done. My biggest let-down was in Season Two. One guy was saying Ford was interested in doing a truck sponsorship with me, and all this other stuff. All these promises, all the way through. As soon as the show was finished filming, he wouldn’t even answer an email. It all led up to me, making me feel good, wanting to do for them. As soon as they get what they want, there you go: You’re in the trashcan again.”
So, why go back again and again and again?
“It’s the almighty dollar,” he says frankly. “I want to give my family everything I could possibly give them and never have a bill or a worry. So, yeah, that’s why I keep going back. But, that’s the same reason I am so mad, because I know what I’m in for, but I try and see that it’s gonna be different. No, no, it’s not. So, I get even more frustrated. Really, if they’d just stop saying that this thing is real. Just that it’s based on real events. Then it’s not wrecking me as a person.”
Bottom line, Rick feels that it is important that people know what is actually going on behind the scenes of reality television.
“They may hate me now for doing this,” he says of the show’s producers. “But, I am the brash, abrasive guy they put on the show. They’ve pushed me around; now, I want to push back. Everything I do and every decision I’ve made, that’s the bed I’ve made and I lie in it. I never had a regret in my life. There’s things I should not have done, but I don’t regret it. It may turn and blow up in my face, but that’s fine. If they can get away with saying this stuff is real, then I feel I can get away with saying it’s not.”
One complete reality in Rick’s life that fans have been asking about is the status of his 23-year-old daughter.
“She’s good,” he confirms for fans. “She has the disease cystic fibrosis, so it’s something that won’t go away, but her health’s really good right now. The problem with a terminal disease of any kind, you have your scares. But, being halfway around the world, it’s hard, because you can’t just go home.” He gives the production team some praise on this point. “They were actually pretty good. They said, ‘If you have to go, you have to go.’ They wouldn’t pay me; they’d stop paying me, of course. But, they would get me on the next flight, if needed. So, they were good that way, so I will give props to them. It’s a hard thing, when you’re stuck and the phone barely works, and your Internet barely works, and you’re trying to find out what happened. But, she’s feeling really good, now.”
And, no doubt, fans will continue to send their well-wishes and prayers for her continued good health.
Thank you to Rick Yemm for this exclusive interview with Huliq. To read Parts I and II, please click here.
New episodes of Ice Road Truckers airs Sunday nights on the History Channel at 9/8c.
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Image: Courtesy of Rick Yemm