Lake Ozark may be going to Hollywood.
Or maybe Hollywood is coming to Lake Ozark.
The board of aldermen is giving serious consideration to an offer from a Los Angeles-based entertainment company to do a reality television series featuring the Lake Ozark Police Department and the Lake of the Ozarks. The company, Twelve02 Entertainment, Inc., hopes to sell its production to The Travel Channel, or possibly another cable television entity.
After considerable discussion, and input from City Attorney Roger Gibbons, the board asked Gibbons and Police Chief Mark Maples to draft an agreement that would be beneficial to the LOPD and the city of Lake Ozark. The board will review the draft and then decide if it wants to pass it on to the production company for its consideration.
Maples explained in a memo to the board and Mayor Johnnie Franzeskos that the company was at the lake for Lake Race 2013 in early June to film for a future Travel Channel program. Company representatives apparently enjoyed their experience so much that they shadowed LOPD Det. John Loveless to learn more about Lake Ozark, the lake and LOPD issues.
The goal of any filming, Maples said, would be to portray Lake Ozark and the lake in a positive manner. But he also had reservations about language in the contract.
"As written, we don't have any editing rights… or control over what they do with the footage in the future or how it's presented," Maples noted.
He also pointed out that the film company is willing to stage an event of some kind (possibly a stolen vehicle recovery from the lake) if nothing of interest develops while riding with the LOPD.
The production company has visited with the Water Patrol Division of the Missouri Highway Patrol, the Camden County Sheriff's Department and the Convention and Visitor Bureau, Maples said. The company is also working with Atlantis Diving and Recovery.
Maples said the Water Patrol apparently drafted its own agreement with the production company, which prompted Lake Ozark officials to ask for a copy for their review.
"Is this something you want to do?" Alderman Tony Otto asked of Maples.
"I think we'd be foolish not to as long as it puts us in a positive light and promotes us," he said.
Alderman Jeff Van Donsel agreed, saying "the exposure would be tremendous if it puts the city in a positive light."
Aldermen Judy Neels and Don Langley offered a bit of caution. Neels insisted on local control of any filming, and Langley said the reality-based approach might portray Lake Ozark in the same vein as the reality television program "Cops."
Page 2 of 2 - Attorney concerns
Gibbons, who reviewed the production company's draft agreement at the request of Maples, shared several concerns with the board.
"Frankly, I do not see how the city or its police department benefits from the agreement," Gibbons said in his memo. "I am also not convinced that the material will promote the lake area to tourists. What if the material shows how people come here on vacation and party only to be arrested and placed on probation?"
•Potential legal issues if the company portrays an individual in a less-than-favorable light and the individual sues the city.
•There is nothing in the agreement that indemnifies the city for lawsuits, nor for any material breach of the terms of the contract.
•The agreement allows the producer of the film project to change the content in any manner.
•The tentative project name is the "Branson Ozarks Project," which is odd since it isn't being filmed in Branson.
•The agreement says that the "artist" in the production would be the LOPD, which is an "expert on-camera talent of the project." The legal ramifications of that claim might be bothersome if a lawsuit arises from the agreement.
•The producer has the exclusive right to obtain production of the project with a third party television or cable network other than The Travel Channel.
•All filming becomes the copyrighted material of the producer and grants it the right to "vary, change, alter, modify, add and/or delete from any of the material and to rearrange and/or transpose the material..."
•The agreement grants the company authority to change the film in any way, even if it makes the city look bad.
•The agreement says the LOPD has to make itself reasonably available to the producer for a 12-month term, potentially tying up Maples or his officers for up to a year.
•The agreement would be made in California and would be governed by the laws of that state. If the city is sued, or is forced to sue, officials would have to travel to California. California law would trump Missouri law.