'Dirty Jobs' producer developing new airplane repo man reality series
By Christopher Rocchio, 07/01/2009
With the economy going down, the amount of airplane repossessions are taking off and will soon be the focus of a new reality series.
Dirty Jobs executive producer Craig Piligian is developing a new reality series that will follow repo man Nick Popovich as he travels the globe and repossesses airplanes and other big-ticket items, Daily Varietyreported Sunday.
Piligian -- who also produces Ghost Hunters, The Ultimate Fighter, Sandhogs, Extreme Loggers and American Choppers -- is currently shopping the series to cable networks, according to Variety, which added its most-likely landing will be either Discovery Channel or Spike TV.
The Apprentice first-season winner Bill Rancic -- who had "befriended" Popovich and served as his advisor about the show -- will executive produce the project along with Popovich and Piligian, Variety reported.
Popovich is the co-partner of Sage-Popovich, a repossession firm that makes its money by reclaiming high-priced items from owners who can no longer afford the payments, according to Variety, which added the business mostly deals in airplanes and helicopters.
Needless to say, repossessing something as large as an airplane can often cause problems -- which is evident in the fact that Popovich has been held at gunpoint by security teams and even spent some time behind bars for repo jobs gone wrong.
"Every case is different," Piligian told Variety. "Maybe it's a small airline in Scandinavia that bought a 747. He has to figure out how to get past airline security and grab the plane. He plans it like a military operation. Sometimes he's in disguise. Often it gets a little hairy."
Sage-Popovich has been in business for 30 years and includes a staff of 65 "super-repos," which Variety described as a "a motley crew of pilots and mechanics who find ways to take these planes."
Earlier this month, Salon.com ran a profile of Sage-Popovich that reported the firm had clients ranging from Citibank to Credit Suisse and nets between $600,000 and $900,000 per job.
While Piligian told Variety he had been negotiating a deal with Popovich for months, the Salon.com story apparently peaked the interest of other producers looking to acquire the rights to the project.
"That threw a monkey wrench into things," Piligian told Variety.
"Why couldn't this story have waited one more week? We [had nearly closed] with him. Then every other producer tried to make a deal, but [Popovich was] incredibly honorable. This could have gone a totally different way. But we're a blue-collar production company, and they appreciated that."