TV series brings fame, money to town
By ADELLA HARDING, Free Press Staff Writer
ELKO - Elko got an economic boost from the filming of a Fox Television reality series at Red's Ranch, renamed "Sizzling Saddles" for the show.
Elko Convention and Visitors Authority Executive Director Ralph McMullen said the producers told him they spent more than $500,000 in the Elko area.
ReNae Welsch, who co-manages Red's Ranch in Lamoille with her husband, Rich, thought the economic benefit was even greater.
"They really put a lot of money in the community. The Red Lion did the catering, and there were a lot of locals doing work," she said. "They rented cars and trucks."
Stockmen's Hotel & Casino also provided a barbecue, Welsch said.
Welsch said the crews also shopped and gambled in Elko, which wouldn't be part of the official production costs.
Then there are the motel costs and costs for renting Red's Ranch.
All total, she said she figured "they dropped a couple of million bucks in town."
Welsch said the cast of "Playing It Straight," which debuted Friday evening, stayed at Red's Ranch, while the crew stayed at High Desert Inn.
McMullen also said the show used the Elko Convention Center for interviews, and he is excited about the promotion Elko will get from the series.
"We get national publicity for our area," he said.
Welsch said the show also used local cowboys, and local animals brought to Red's Ranch, so it looked like a working ranch.
Red's Ranch, owned by Mimi Ellis, is a lodge for guests of Ruby Mountain Heli Ski, as well as a home for Ellis. The ranch also is rented for meetings and events.
Welsch said the location manager, James Gierman, learned about Red's Ranch after calling Robin Holabird, deputy director of the Nevada Film Office and Nevada Tourism Board. She in turned referred him to ECVA.
He liked Lamoille, but the producers were leaning toward a site in Montana, until they came to Red's Ranch for a look, Welsch said.
"They came and loved it," she said.
The director was Lauren Alvarez, and the producers were Jeremy Mills and Gareth Provan.
The set was closed to preserve the secrecy of the reality show, Welsch reported.
"We had the sheriff's posse at the gate," she said.
Welsch also said she was impressed with the people putting together the show.
"They were very down to earth. They were super nice guys," Welsch said of the show people who originated from several countries and states.
She also said the people involved in the production "loved the Star Hotel."
Both Welsch and McMullen said they had to sign confidentiality agreements, as did other local people who worked with cast and crew, and that is why they didn't talk about the show until now.
The disclosure agreement was for $5 million.
Welsch said the crews were at the ranch last July and August. It took three weeks to set up, two weeks to shoot and one week to clean up, including painting the interior walls back to the colors they were before the show.
They also put up a new sign to call the ranch Sizzling Saddles, and built a small barn in a field for the eliminations.
"We left it standing," Welsch said.
They also filmed a rodeo at a ranch near Wells and went to Las Vegas for a day, Welsch said, using K-T Services buses.
"You can't imagine the amount of equipment they brought in," she said.
Welsch said earlier in the week that she was anxious to see the series, because they did so many hours of shooting that she had no idea what the finished show would be like.
"They had cameras running all the time," Welsch said, "but I didn't watch much of the filming. It's supposed to be funny and fun."
She also was anxious to the see the credits. She was told she and her husband are named, along with Elko and Red's Ranch.
According to the producers, the show puts one woman and 14 guys together, with a catch - some of the guys are gay. If she picks a straight man at the end, they split $1 million. If she is wrong, the gay man wins the $1 million.
One of the creators is Kim MacQuarrie, a former Nevada resident, and the other is Ciara Byrne.