Tuesday, November 17, 2020

There was a a cross-country lawnmower race reality show inspired by a David Lynch movie

"The Straight Story" is a 1999 movie directed by David Lynch about a man who commits to a long drive on a tractor to see his brother:

LATimes on "The Great Grass Race," a low budget reality competition created by a company called "Menace Vision" and loosely inspired by the movie:
Unlike Straight’s story, though, “The Great Grass Race” is animated by a competitive edge. After “racing” 3,000 miles from Los Angeles to Tampa, Fla. — a destination shifted from New York City at the 11th hour because of COVID-19 restrictions — to claim a nebulous prize of “up to $100,000,” contestants crossed the finish line in mid-September and the winners were announced, though the exact prize money was not.

It was a slow slog through punishing heat and slashing rain at 5 mph, the lawnmowers’ maximum speed. Required to embark on the journey without money, racers were forced to beg strangers along the way — in person and on social media — for gas, food and shelter.  
A contract signed by contestants and obtained by The Times includes a nondisclosure agreement. A first violation of the agreement results in a $20,000 penalty, a second $50,000 and a third $100,000. The contract states that contestants who leave the show before crossing the finish line owe the producers $100,000, with limited exceptions. It also limits the producers’ liability for injuries. 
Soon after launch, the production became plagued by problems. Several crew members dropped out within a few days. 
According to [a camerman], the patrol officer told him that with trucks speeding around the blind curve where the racers were plodding along, “we’ll be picking up your bodies for weeks.”

“And that got under my skin because … he’s right”