Phil Harris demanded 'Deadliest Catch' keep taping following stroke
By Christopher Rocchio, 02/22/2010
Phil Harris apparently didn't want his ultimately fatal stroke to interfere with Deadliest Catch's sixth season.
Harris -- who died earlier this month after suffering the stroke while the show was filming his Cornelia Marie vessel fishing during Alaska's 2010 opolio crab season --- wrote a note insisting Deadliest Catch's producers film his hospitalization after he came out of a medically-induced coma, The Los Angeles Timesreported Friday.
"We gotta have a great ending to this story," Harris wrote, according to executive producer Thom Beers.
Producers and Discovery Channel are still unsure how they will end Deadliest Catch's sixth season, according to The Times, which added they were still filming the 16-episode season's final three episodes when Harris became ill.
"We don't really know exactly how we're going to handle the hospital material right now," Beers told The Times about the show's sixth season, is currently slated to debut sometime in April and will include an additional Harris tribute special.
"We really don't. But we do now that he's represented throughout the entire new season. We'll work with the boys and his family and decide what is tasteful obviously, what's right and what's appropriate. We want to celebrate his life, not his death."
"This is five years I filmed with Capt. Phil," Beers told The Times.
"We have a long history with him and watching that relationship evolve -- not only our relationship with him, but also his relationship with his sons and in the Bering Sea. It's just really fascinating to watch. He got closer to his sons in a very dangerous work environment, so we're going to do a big special for Phil."
The fate of the Cornelia Marie -- which resumed opilio crab fishing with relief captain Derek Ray following Harris' stroke -- on Deadliest Catch is still undecided, according to Beers, who added that question will ultimately have to be confronted.
"The boys are holding up as much as possible," Beers told The Times about Harris' sons, Jake and Josh.
"It's been tough. They're a little rudderless right now. He ran that ship and now they're having to deal with it themselves. The question now is whether the boys will continue to follow in the footsteps and what their plans are. That's what the off-season is going to be -- they'll have to figure it out and we'll be there to support them whatever they decide."
Regardless of whether the Cornelia Marie continues on the show, Beers said Harris will be missed.
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"He's the voice of reason," Beers told The Times.
"In all the chaos, you know you can always look at Phil to give you the straight answer. When you're casting a show, you're always looking for a certain amount of charisma, and Phil had this sense when you looked at him, this kind of soulful, doleful look. Like the weight of the world was on his shoulders. And it wasn't necessarily that he was comfortable with it, but he accepted it."