Arlington native puts new twist on car reality shows

Posted Wednesday, Oct. 02, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
More information ‘Reality Rides’ To record or watch the show on the Velocity channel Sunday at 8 a.m. • AT&T U-Verse Ch. 1102 • Time Warner Cable Ch. 755 • DirecTV Ch. 281 • Dish Network Ch 246

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Filmmaker Brian Greene’s latest brainstorm will ride into reality in a new TV series that premieres on the Velocity channel on Sunday at 8 a.m.

Greene, an Arlington native and Martin High School graduate — and son of former Arlington Mayor Richard Greene — has spent the last 21/2 years producing the new show, titled Reality Rides.

Greene’s company, Greene HD Productions, was established in 1995 and has an impressive résumé of programming produced for television and industry. Reality Rides is not the company’s first show to air on cable networks — Greene’s Route 66 programs aired on several national cable channels, as did one called Air Show Extreme — but the latest project is notably grander than any earlier one-off productions.

“This is the first series that we’ve put together. And it’s aimed at a mainstream national audience and has an open-ended lifespan,” Greene said.

Initial agreements call for the Velocity channel to air 26 weeks of programs over two seasons. Season one premieres Sunday, and the second season will kick off in January. The company has an option for a third season on Velocity for which production is underway.

The show’s premise is to follow the long restoration process that transforms antique and deteriorating cars back to their classic beauty. The first season stars a 1955 Buick Special and chronicles the challenges that the restoration crew faces as it rebuilds the car.

Recently joining the effort as executive producer is another Arlington resident, retired businessman Mike Ames.

Ames, who owned several businesses, now does consulting work and serves on several boards, but he says his keenest interest is his hobby of collecting cars.

Ames and Greene met by chance at a local car show. As the two men got acquainted, Ames learned about the Reality Rides project and eventually joined the small group of partners working on it.

“This was an opportunity that puts me around something I enjoy — that’s the cars — and to work with a good guy like Brian and be a part of something that could potentially be profitable and fun at the same time,” said Ames.

Because of the popularity of automobile programming, distributors were regularly contacting Greene to see if he had programs available to sell. Although he had done one-off pieces working with such brands as Corvette, Land Rover and Saab, he had not produced a series of programs.

Contemplating how to satisfy the demand led to his idea to create the Reality Rides series. He began by searching for a shop and a head mechanic who could be the focus of the show, and that’s how he connected with Carl Meredith, the owner of an automotive shop in Red Oak.

“Carl is a perfect fit. A very down-to-earth and honest guy, Carl’s a perfectionist when it comes to cars, especially hot rods and restorations. He is truly an artist,” said Greene.

Once Meredith had assembled a build team, the next step was to decide what to build. Wanting to avoid what he calls typical shows that revolve around Chevy, Mustang or Camaro, Greene wanted something different but still from the 1950s.

They decided on Buick and found a 1955 Buick Special in Mineral Wells. “It had a very straight body with some minor rough spots and an interior was pretty much nonexistent, but it was a car in decent shape for restoration,” Greene said. After he bought the car along with a parts car, production on the show began.

As the show’s creator, producer and director, Greene said his goal is simple. “I set out to produce a show that is absolutely real. There is nothing fake in this show.”

There is a recurring criticism Greene says he hears from people actually working in the automotive industry about the current spate of reality car shows: “It is safe drama and safe deadlines showing people arguing and fighting in a staged way that is not real.”

Determined that his Buick would not be among the reality show cars that reportedly had to be rebuilt after filming, Greene filmed without artificial deadlines to make sure the build was of the highest quality.

“We spent six months building this car,” he said. “We had a build team of five people, and someone was working on the car seven days a week. It took six months. We filmed a couple times a week, but someone was working on it seven days a week. Otherwise this build would have taken about a year to a year and half to do.”

Ames says their approach is very unique. “I think that fact is more entertaining than fiction. A lot of shows that call themselves reality shows actually are not. They are staged and artificial. Our show is truly reality with real people who really work on the cars. It’s not scripted, so what you see is a true story of how these cars are created and built and customized.”

Besides Reality Rides, the group has another show titled Magnificent Motorcars in production that will air on the History Channel next spring. Greene has traveled the world filming in the Mercedes museum in Germany and at car museums in the Netherlands and England.

“This series will be about the cars, their owners and the fascinating stories behind some rare automobiles. The shows are a history lesson of a time when cars were part of the lifestyle for the elite. The cars themselves are art — expensive art. Some of them are worth millions of dollars,” said Greene.

Season two of Reality Rides will feature two cars. One is a 1942 World War II-era Dodge Command car that was built for the Jordan Winery in California. The other car, a 1940 Lincoln Zephyr, is part of Ames’ collection.

Early reviews of Reality Rides from over 15,000 online test audiences who viewed the trailer and one episode were overwhelmingly positive Greene said.

Greene is elated with how the car makeover turned out. He describes the reborn Buick as an “exceptional automobile.” The team decided to enter it in the world-famous Buick Nationals, the premiere competition for Buick collectors.

But Greene was hush-hush on how the car fared at the contest. “You’ll have to watch the final episode of season one to find out,” he said. “Stay tuned for a very surprising ending to this show.”

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