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History Channel to debut 'Ice Road Truckers'-like 'Ax Men' on March 9


By Christopher Rocchio, 02/27/2008 

The History Channel has announced Ax Men, a new Ice Road Truckers-like reality series that will document the treacherous life of Pacific Northwest timber cutters, will premiere on Sunday, March 9 at 10PM ET/PT.

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Ax Men will follow four different logging crews through a season in northwest Oregon's remote forests, where they're responsible for retrieving timber perched on mountainsides with too steep of an incline for access via machinery. 

If you think the job doesn't sound easy -- that's because it isn't -- as mechanical problems, violent weather, unpredictable terrain and runaway logs are just some of the dangers facing the loggers on a regular basis.

In addition, Ax Men will also provide viewers with insight on history of the logging industry and how technology has transformed life for the modern logger.

The 13-episode series is a production of Original Productions -- the same production company behind last summer's Ice Road Truckers reality series, which followed a group of six truck drivers navigating frozen terrain as they hauled crucial supplies to miners working at Canadian diamond mines located only miles from the Arctic Circle.

Ice Road Truckers' premiere broadcast hauled in 3.4 million overall viewers -- a ratings performance that made the series' debut the most-watched original telecast in The History Channel's own 12 year history. The History Channel is currently filming Ice Road Truckers' second season and Twentieth Century Fox recently secured the rights to turn the series into a scripted big-screen action movie.

The four logging crews featured in Ax Men -- as well as their The History Channel supplied bios -- are:

- Pihl Logging

Pihl Logging has been the lifeblood of Vernonia, Oregon for almost 25 years. Almost everyone in town - all 2,300 of them - knows someone who relies on company owner Mike Pihl to keep their family fed. Pihl Logging is comprised of a group of men who like to trade jibes with each other almost as much as they like to cut timber. Mike's son-in-law Kelly is being groomed to take over the business one day, but the real heart of the operation is 30-year veteran timber cutter Dwayne Dethlefs. Rounding out the crew is Dwayne's son Dustin, greenhorn Cody Davis, site boss Todd Cutright, and a host of other colorful characters.

- J.M. Browning Logging

Operating out of Astoria, Oregon, no-nonsense, all-business Jay Browning started his company from the ground up. Logging is one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet, and Jay Browning knows it. He lost his hand in a logging accident and now wears a prosthetic, but prides himself on not accepting any of the workers comp checks that followed the ordeal. Taking handouts isn't Jay Browning's style. J.M. Browning has the most powerful equipment, the most skilled workers and secures the biggest jobs in town. Jay is idolized by his employees, including son Jesse. Jesse's been sweating away in the woods for seven years in hopes that he will earn the right to take over his father's business one day.

- Stump Branch Logging

Company owner Melvin Lardy, 32, eats, sleeps and breathes logging. He's been in the business for more than a decade, but recently landed a monstrous job that could be his big break - if it doesn't break him in the process. Melvin's equipment is the logger's beginner set - a collection of rusted hunks of metal that stop at a moment's notice and shut down production without warning. Melvin has always succeeded where others have failed, though, and he's hoping his luck will hold out on this job. Part of his success depends on greenhorn Michael, who's been on the job only one month. Michael is working alongside his childhood buddies at Stump Branch, but lifelong friendship won't get him anywhere when it comes to learning the logging business. Michael is catching on quickly, but this business doesn't cut anyone a break.

- Gustafson Logging

Darrell Holthusen is the Superman of logging. By day, he oversees multiple job sites for one of the biggest companies in Astoria, Oregon. By night, Darrell coaches pee-wee football, counsels underprivileged youth, and is a devoted family man. Darrell's definition of a successful job is one that allows his men to return to their families each night unharmed. Gustafson Logging's newest job, aptly named "The Challenge," is one of the steepest and most inaccessible jobs they have ever attempted. To help him get the job done, Darrell is relying on Robby Motsinger, his yet-unproven crew chief, who must step up if he's going to earn the respect of Darrell and the other men of Gustafson Logging.

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