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Why Terlingua Doesn't Want Reality TV Cameras in Their Town

A National Geographic film crew has come to town.

Terlingua, a small town in Brewster County, West Texas, near the Rio Grande, used to be a mining town. Now it's mainly a tourist destination on the way to Big Bend — but pretty soon, Terlingua might attract a different kind of tourist.

National Geographic has started filming a reality show with the dubious premise that Terlingua is an outpost of suspicious outliers. Buckner Cooke knows all about showbiz — he’s worked as a cameraman for big Hollywood productions and now manages the Starlight Theater in Terlingua. He says he knows that this production will make his town look bad.

On what the show could do to tourism: “Being situated between the Big Bend National Park and the Big Bend Ranch State Park, all we have is tourism. If we’re portrayed in a light that shows us to be somewhat dangerous — it's basically something we have to fight all the time because we’re on the border…It’ll just be another roadblock for us.” 

On how last year’s murder case might affect the show: “The murder case — that’s a raw nerve right now. We have not been able to actually heal from that, because the trial has just started. Yesterday was the beginning of jury selection. So we’re still trying to deal with this.”

On having film crews in Terlingua: “We have this group that does reality programming...and they’re going to be the ones who convey this story to America. If this was D.A. Pennebaker coming down here I think we’d all feel a little better about it. Not the guys who do 'Ax Men.'”