Jeff Collins & the burning of the “barn”

Jeff Collins, executive producer of National Geographic’s American Colony: Meet the Hutterites, recently did a publicity interview on a Billings, Montana, radio station. (The series was shot in Montana.)

Unfortunately, Mr. Collins is peddling a rather… well, let’s say a “painfully incomplete” account of what happened during the making of Meet The Hutterites:

This is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Much more coming soon….

  • Dorothy

    There is no doubt in my mind that the scenes were staged or re-enacted, whichever you prefer, and was set up as a reality show.   I have watched the episodes from the start and as a former hutterite myself, I have not seen anything that I have not witnessed myself when I was still hutterite. I am not sure what all the drama is about really.  While each colony differs to a degree, they all operate similarly on the day to day activities.  While drinking in excess and cussing is not embraced, it does happen.  For me the show points out that hutterites are human just like the rest of us, they have emotions and struggles which again makes them no different from their English counterparts.  If anything at all, I think this show has taken away the mysteriousness which has overshadowed the hutterites for way too long and has truly allowed the rest of the world a true glimpse into the lifestyle of what it means to be human hutterites.  

    • Hi Dorothy – 

      Thanks for your comment… and for stopping by.

      I agree with most of what you’ve written. There is little doubt — no doubt, really — that the series & the scenes were outlined & set up for dramatic effect. And I haven’t heard anyone at King Colony insist that their community is a utopia, and that Jeff Collins failed to capture the perfection of it all. 

      Rather, the concern — especially among folks at King Colony — is that the making of the series was deeply flawed and dishonest. That Jeff Collins made certain contractual promises, and then ignored them. That King Colony was promised one type of show (a documentary) but it rapidly shifted gears into a reality show, which has an entirely different tone & character. 

      Let’s put it this way: I’ve asked Jeff Collins to describe to me, in detail, how he made the show. What did a typical production day look like? What were the narrative demands of the series, and how did he go about meeting them? What sort of “direction” was necessary during shooting? Were there cue cards? Did Jeff or his crew encourage the use of inappropriate language? How were payments made? Were the installment payments contingent upon a certain kind of performance? How badly did King Colony need the money? The party for the season finale — who bought the beer? what exactly burned down? whose idea was this? … And so on…

      Jeff refuses to answer these questions. Which, I think, is an answer in itself. 


      • None of yours….

        Alan, you can’t be serious?! I don’t know Collins or do I have anyting to do with the show. If were the producer of the show and you came to me with your superior attitude and your ridiculous questions, I would blow you off too!

        • Well, I guess we’ll agree to disagree, NOY. 

          I’m not coming to Jeff with a “superior attitude”; I coming to him with questions about how he made his “documentary.” That’s what journalists do: we ask questions. And in this situation, there are a whole bunch of answered ones. 

          Thanks again for stopping by. And for calling me “Alan.” 🙂

          • gjessie

            You’re still trying to claim you’re a journalist with this one sided blog?

            Repeat after me.

            Browbeating people over Twitter does not equate to journalism. Posting something on my blog does not make it fact. Finally, just because I ask a question on Twitter doesn’t mean people have to answer.

          • Wonderful to read your voice again, gjessie. I hope you’re having a good summer….

          • Alan, keep up the good work!  Someone needs to ask the questions!  

          • Thanks for the moral support, Kathlean. I’m happy to ask the questions — but it sure would be nice to get some answers! 🙂

          • Thanks for the moral support, Kathlean. I’m happy to ask the questions — but it sure would be nice to get some answers! 🙂

          • Fdewaay

             We really like the Hutterite TV show on National Geographic. It’s one of our
            favorite shows. We record them and play them over and over. It’s so funny
            sometimes, like when Claudia and Lisa got the keys for the utility vehicle. We
            used to kind of avoid Hutterites because they were really strange. Now we go out
            of our way to be friendly to the Hutterites in the Butte area (from Choteau) and
            even buy more produce than we really need from them. We love all the people on
            the Hutterite show, like Rita, Bertha, Wesley, Claudia, Toby, Marvin, etc. Sure
            it can be embarrassing to see people as they really are, but getting to know
            them better is beneficial for all Hutterites and all farm families every where.
            I think the show is fair. It is like Deadliest Catch. The Hutterite show
            portrays family values, hard work, farming, and religion in a positive way. How
            many other prime time shows do that? Many Americans have never seen a farm
            animal killed and eaten. It’s good for them to know practical things like that.
            Maybe the elders don’t like the Hutterites complaining about them, but the TV
            show is not as bad as some people think. My husband even likes it. Even if it is
            a little staged (which it might not be), we like seeing how those people react
            to those type of situations.

            I hope you can call in to the Voices of Montana radio show sometime and
            express your opinions. I listen to that program every day.

          • Dorothy

            I felt led to reply to your comment and I couldn’t agree with you more!!  The hutterites are wonderful ppl with big hearts, and in every way like many of us even those of us who’ve left the colony to pursue a different path.  I totally share your convictions regarding the show, and you are not alone in your observation.  I have made some comments on this site which point out my position on all this hallaballoo.  If you are interested there is another site on facebook by name of “Hutterite outcasts” where hutterites as well English ppl are engaging in discussion.  Feel free to view or to join in.   I feel this show has allowed the English a glimpse into the colony day to day life as it really is, inspite of the fact that many are trying to deny that.  And yes, the show was staged or re-enacted based on real life events as they happen on the colony.  I know personally, cause I used to be a hutterite and can attest to many of the scenes that were staged for the show.  Dorothy

          • @4e5f0cb6c6f9197db17cff192ca9fa3d:disqus & @2985e7f58024d7350d2236d1bf94a58c:disqus: I understand your points, and they’re well taken. But as I’ve tried to tell Jeff Collins on Twitter, the issue (to me) isn’t whether or not TV viewers are enjoying the show. Based on the ratings, they are. I’ve tried to focus more on what the people of King Colony were promised… what they got… and what they think of the results. And clearly, they’re not happy. Put another way: The Hutterites live much of their lives apart from the rest of the world because they’re trying to live up to a different, higher standard. Do they always succeed? No. But at least they’re trying.The question now ought to be: What should now be done to address their profound sense of embarrassment and betrayal?

          • Mr Mairson.I think I understand now where your coming from,nice of you to do this.I’d think I’d like you in my or our corner fighting for us.I have to admit I was wondering what your agenda was since you are also from NG.So I want to thank you for having our back,appreciate that .Liz

          • Hi Liz,

            Thanks for your note & your support. I think much of the controversy surrounding this show could be cleared up by opening the windows & doors — and letting some fresh air & sunshine in. Specifically: We just need to hear exactly what happened during the making of this show.
            I have no doubt that folks at King Colony did not fully grasp exactly what a reality TV is, especially when the post-production (ie editing) was complete. If Jeff would walk us all through that process, he’d be doing everyone a great service.
            Thanks again for your thoughts, and for stopping by…best,Alan

          • oh, oh Dorothy; It’s hutterites CAST OFF, not outcast…:)

        • Scott from So Cal

          The key “none of yours” is that Mr Collins has lied about a wonderful group of people who came to America to express their religious freedom and I tank Mr Mairson for bringing this inaccuracies to light through this site and

        • Well, I’m no journalist but I USE to be a fan of the Nat Geo channel.  I for one would LOVE for Jeff Collins to give some answers.  He is a liar and I will never view Nat Geo the same after what they did to the Hutterites!!!  Collins has done a great job at putting a huge blemish on the reputation of Nat Geo!  My new view, Nat Geo takes advantage and exploits people.  They promise one thing and they do good ole fast switch on the people, vulnerable people!  

      • Dorothy

         Alan, for the record I was the ex-hutterite that was interviewed on the ninth episode, I was not handed a script to read from.  I simply answered the questions they asked me truthfully.  Again, as I understand it, some of the scenes were re-enacted but essentially they were based on reality.  I remember as a young person in the colony gathering with my peers and watching tv on my forbidden television in our basement, now if they re-enacted that, would that be false??  There are many incidences I am able to relate to on the show of youth rebellion.  Does the re-enactment of these make it false?  No, of course not, as I said in my post, re-enacted, scripted, whatever you wish to call it, perhaps it didn’t happen just like that at the moment of filming but I am able to recall much of it just from my own experience as a young hutterite.  For me the show points out one thing for sure, that people, humans will be human regardless of what religion we are born into.  Thank God for the the frontal lobe which gives us all the ability to reason, to rationalize and be unique individuals. 

        • Hi Dorothy,

          Were you in the 9th episode, or the series finale (#10)? I watched #10, and remember the woman who is an ex-Hutterite & who sat down to chat with Bertha at a sandwich shop. I remember thinking: This is NOT scripted. It felt & sounded very authentic. 

          FWIW: I’ve never claimed the entire series is scripted. But I’ve heard from many people who were part of the production that the show is what might charitably be called a staged drama. You seem to suggest that staged or not doesn’t matter, but it clearly matters to the people who are in the show.

          While it would certainly help if Jeff Collins provided a detailed description of how this series was put together, his openness and honesty is not absolutely necessary; others will soon step forward to tell their story in their own words. Which will no doubt please Jeff, since he has long insisted all the words and stories in his TV series were theirs to begin with. 

          Thanks for stopping by… and for your comment. 


          • Dorothy

             Yes Alan that was me at the sandwich shop with Bertha,  I don’t mind an open honest dialogue so therefore I wonder have you ever visited a colony yourself?  Have you lived amongst the hutterites for any length of time  and if so how long?  Do you have any idea of the daily life on a colony?   I see you now call the show a “staged drama.”  Fair enough, life on the colony can be dramatic too, so I guess you are right in that respect.  There was nothing mellow or nice about Bertha and Rita being shunned in the first or second episode. You have to remember I lived in a colony and was part of the daily drama if you will, hence I chose to leave.  I understand the King Colony people are under a lot of duress at this time and likely this is causing many of the people to succumb  to the pressure from the elders.  That is unfortunate in my opinion, same song different verse.  No different then when I was a hutterite, the elders threatening with various disciplinary actions against the members and in this case because the people re-enacted or re-dramatized their life in this show.

          • Hi Dorothy – 

            No, I have never visited a Hutterite colony. And I’m not here to defend shunning, or how the Elders exert their authority, or any Hutterite policies or beliefs. I understand why some people live on Hutterite colonies, and I understand why some people leave. 

            The main issue — for me and, I think, for many folks at King Colony — is how Jeff Collins went about cobbling together his 10 episodes. What exactly happened in the making of Meet The Hutterites? If you were a fly on the wall, what would you have seen unfolding during the many months that Jeff Collins & his team were at King Colony? Jeff wants everyone to focus on what he’s trying to say with the stories he shot; the Hutterites want people to focus on who Jeff Collins is and precisely what he did while at the Colony.

            Jeff was just granted 10 hours on National Geographic’s primetime stage, where he told stories that he & National Geographic produced. The ratings were great; bravo for Jeff & the Channel.

            Now it’s time for the Hutterites to share the stories behind Jeff’s stories. When you hear from the folks at King Colony — and you will soon — you’ll have a much better sense of what the “reality” of reality TV really is.

            Thanks again for stopping by…


          • Dorothy

             I guess I would expect them to share how the film was made, and how the scenarios were set up.  These people are professionals in what they do, so they I’m sure brought their professionalism to this platform as well.  Again I’m not here to persuade you Alan,  I have a feeling that no amount of responding on my part is enough to convince you and I can only speak for myself.  All I know for a fact is I witnessed personally much of the re-acted scenes as well as much of the drama shown on this show in my own life.  Quite frankly this could very well have been my life, with Bertha and Rita as my mom wanting her kids to become educated, and Claudia in myself wanting an education and myself ultimately leaving the colony to pursue that.  I am trying to understand where you are coming from Alan, but I am having a difficult time figuring exactly what your agenda is.   As for my interview with the show, I’ll tell you right now that I spend about an hour with them, but they used about two minutes to highlight or summarize what the gist of the conversation was, I guess I didn’t expect them to air the entire interview.  I expect that is what they did as well with much of the footage they gathered during the time spent at the colony. 

          • Dorothy,

            It’s interesting you use the words “this could very well have been my life.” It echoes something I’m told producers would say to members of the colony who resisted doing or saying certain things. Well, maybe it didn’t happen, but it could

            You ask where I’m coming from, and what my agenda is. Well, I guess I’d say I have a lot in common with Jeff Collins:  he doesn’t like bullies, and neither do I. 

            In his case, he resents the authority exerted by the Elders, and he has crafted a show to reflect those values. In my case, I don’t like when people leverage their money & power to get their way with less wealthy, less powerful people who are not especially media savvy.

            In short: I don’t like bullies.

            I think Jeff probably started with the best of intentions, and then discovered that good intention weren’t going to produce the show he needed. And so the game changed, which Jeff understood, but from everything I’ve heard and read, the folks at KC didn’t fully grasp what they were creating. Which makes sense: Jeff has done this hundreds of times, but the people at the colony have done it exactly once. And once, I bet, is more than enough for them. 

            I hasten to add that I think you did a wonderful job on the show. You came across as a real person with values and a worldview that must have come from years of experience, thinking, and prayer. As I said earlier, it was immediately apparent while watching you talk to Bertha. … I wish I could say the same for many of the other characters on the show. 

            I wish Jeff well, and I hope the people at King Colony recover from this experience, and can come together again. But I still think this story is not over yet, as much as Jeff wants it to be. 

            Thanks again for your thoughtful comments. 


  • None of yours….

    Super annoying to read this kind of BS! Might help your reporting out, Mairson, if  your source provided some kind of proof! Other than that, looks like you’re into sensationalism and hopping on the Hutterite success train!

    • NOY – Not sure exactly what you mean. What sort of proof are you looking for? Material evidence? Embers from the burnt “barn”? Or is personal testimony sufficient? 

      As for “hopping on the Hutterite success train” — I have no idea what that means. 

      Re: sensationalism — may I suggest you direct some of your ire towards Jeff Collins. He’s the guy who needs drama, not me. And if you listen closely to his interview on The Big J Show (radio in Billings, MT), near the end you’ll hear Jeff playing semantic games about barns and sheds and what exactly burned down, and why.

      All our confusion could all be cleared up with a supplemental DVD: The Making of ‘Meet the Hutterites.’ I’ve asked Jeff for an interview I could include in such a multi-media package. Thus far, he has refused. It’s worthwhile to wonder why he won’t pull back the curtain to let us all see how the sausage of reality TV gets made.

      Thanks for your comment & for stopping by. 

      (P.S. Please feel free to call me “Alan.”)

      • None of yours….

        Alan, anyone can say anything. Tammy claims Collins made up the show. Ok, then, what does she know that could help us to believe her claim that the show is faked.

        • NOY – 

          Please stay tuned. There’s lots more coming this week that will clear up all the confusion. 


          • jeff collins

            Mr. Mairson, you’re a YELLOW journalist at best. You have taken my comments over and over and posted them out of context. Further, you have posted them providing your own commentary, which has been false. For example, the dinner with my business partners had NOTHING TO DO with the final airing of Meet the Hutterites. That show is a TINY piece of my $$ business. It just happens to be the one I am most passionate about, which is why I keep refuting everything you and others say. As you now know, the Hutterites of King Colony were forced to write those letters and forced to hold that news conference. Even still, they managed to defend the production by saying it was an accurate portrayal of life on King Colony. They tell me the elders have threatened them and they apologized to me in advance for writing those letters. Since you’re such a brilliant journalist, you might have noticed that ALL of the main characters who appeared in the show were not part of the news conference, except for Wesley who managed to defend the production while still saying what he was told he HAD TO SAY. Thanks to you and Ms. Kirkby the journalists who attended that press conference have all called me, along with NATIONAL PRINT AND TV outlets, requesting interviews because they now want to dig into what REALLY happens on these Colonies. They sensed extreme duress and noticed the presence of three men who were there to supervise. The journalists also had conversations (off the record) that concerned them. So, please feel free to keep posting EVERYTHING I say online out of context and then adding your own scribble to tell your 5 readers what you THINK i’m saying. Your desire to seek revenge against your former employer may ultimately do more damage to the Hutterites of King Colony than anyone. You might try viewing Perez Hilton’s site — yours is beginning to look a lot like his. Congratulations, I’m sure your colleagues are pleased with your success. P.S. I blocked you on Twitter because you are annoying. Don’t think for a second that you are in any way a threat to me or my business.

          • Hi Jeff,

            Thanks for stopping by again. I appreciate your willingness to address some of the core issues here, and to share your insights. No one knows what happened on this production better than you.
            • I’m hurt that you think I’m a “yellow journalist” and that you claim I take your comments out of context. How about we get together ASAP and get the context right, once and for all? How about an interview on Monday, August 13, 2012, at noon ET, on a public platform (Google Hangouts, say). Contrary to what you told me a week ago, you don’t require any approval from National Geographic to discuss the show because you’re doing that, regularly, online.

            • Re: who was forced or coerced to do what when — that’s certainly worth discussing. But it’s hard to tell if the members of King Colony were coerced into writing those statements OR if they were coerced by you — and the $100,000 you paid them — to fake a hospital run, burn down a shed, swear, drink, and otherwise do stuff that isn’t traditionally thought of as “celebrating family values” (which you promised to do in your contract). How can you look into the hearts of the members of King Colony & determine what their true motivations were, and are, and who is really doing the coercion?

            • Wesley is your guy. No doubt about it. If I were you, I’d keep him close by at all times. He’s definitely your ace in the hole.

            • Re: the presence of “NATIONAL PRINT AND TV outlets” (your caps) — as you said in your recent tweet: “This has played out exactly as I hoped it would.” Well played, sir (although not so “well” for the folks at King Colony).

            • You keep talking about “revenge” against my former employer, but you are mistaken. First, I’m not angry, I’m disappointed. Second, I was not, and never have been, employed by Fox. You’re the Fox employee, and I have no doubt you’re doing great work for them. I’m sure David Lyle is delighted by your performance. … Me — I just think my Society shouldn’t get in bed with the sort of company that hacks the phone of dead girls. Murdoch & Co are getting hammered in the UK, and are now heading our way. You’ve signed up to serve. I haven’t. I simply think there should be a few corners of the media world that are not infected with the sort of “journalism” which you — and they — claim to practice. “We report, you decide.” Puh-leeze.

            • I don’t think I’m a threat to you or your business, nor do I want to be. I want Collins Avenue to continue to produce the fine reality shows that will soon make one of Hollywood’s Top 50 Reality TV Executives. And when Dance Moms: Topeka launches, I’ll be out here, cheering you on. But will I sit by silently as you play your laughable confidence game? No, sorry, I won’t.
            • I realize my site doesn’t have an audience as big as the one you’ve found on the National Geographic Channel. But I’m okay with that. I’d much rather speak to a smaller (but growing) audience here, and call ’em like I see ’em, then pander for eyeballs by intentionally driving a wedge into a community to further your career. You can tell me you’re on a noble mission, that you’re fighting for women’s rights, or individual freedom, or Christian Truth, but another, more obvious truth can be found right here.

            • You blocked me on Twitter, but you evidently don’t grasp how Twitter works. I can read all your stuff, you can read all mine. Unless you lock down your account, blocking me seems rather silly.• I wish you wouldn’t call me names. I try to remain respectful of you.
            As I mentioned above, I’d like to invite you to the following: An interview on Monday, August 13, 2012, at noon ET, on a public platform (Google Hangouts, say). Again: you don’t require any approval from National Geographic to discuss the show because you’re doing that, regularly, online.

            So you in for Monday @ noon? Please let me know.

            Thanks for stopping by, and for all your thoughts.


          • gjessie

            Alan, hold up.

            You’re not behaving like a journalist, so why should Jeff meet with you for an interview?

            In fact, you stated in another thread that you’re simply a publisher in this matter. But let’s ignore that for now.

            If you’re not going to do the basic due diligence of reporting–and simply sitting at a computer and using the Internet or phone doesn’t count–then why would anyone take the time out of their day to be “interviewed” by you?

            You know better.

            In fact, that’s one of the underlying messages of this very blog. Yet you’re not staying true to the portrait of journalism that you want everyone else to faithfully uphold.

            You’re not “reporting,” but rather providing your own commentary on things unsubstantiated, unobserved, or taken partially or completely out of context.

            Sound familiar?

            It’s amazing to watch you behave in the very manner that you critique others for.

            I asked you to disclose what extent you’ve gone in verifying the authenticity of the claims you’ve been publishing? And your response was I’ve been doing “primary research,” but admitted that you haven’t worn down any shoe leather observing the community, talking to people, watching their body language, but you’ve been to Silver Springs and it’s the same.

            Silver Springs isn’t the Colony.

            Again, you know better.

            And in fact, you went on to say that you needed to be paid in order to do it. I believe you stated $1,000 was your day rate. However, if you’re so outraged why would you not forgo your day rate and truly do real reporting.

            Okay, maybe you don’t have the time or means to do it. Or maybe you’ve realized you’re not a reporter and that’s why you decided to play the role of publisher in this matter.

            In that case, as a publisher what steps are you taking to make sure the materials and facts you’re publishing are authentic and accurate? It’s great to see hand-written notes, but how can we trust how the author is? Were they under duress when writing it? If you talked to someone on the phone to verify how do you know the person is who they claim they are? Basically, how are you going about the fact-checking? What mechanisms have you put in place to correct any mis-statements or false materials that you may publisher?

            I’m expecting your eight-plus paragraph response to state you’re not a publisher either and that you would need $$$ to help with that type of operation and that in all honesty you’re simply and ISP and you’re not responsible for the materials the authors.

            Hopefully, you’ll know better.

            Finally, as a publisher I must admit it seems as though you have an agenda since your commentary is very one-sided and accusatory. In fact, I don’t think you have ever discussed that there is a long history of individuals attacking how they were portrayed in documentaries and reality shows. That once they saw themselves and were seen by others claimed that things were taken out of context and even faked (which there is some create research on). In some cases it was true, and in others it wasn’t.

            Just wondering why you so strongly think that one side was innocent and exempt from responsibility and the other is pure evil and manipulative? Because that seems to be your “fair and balanced” equivalent.

            Can’t there be truth in it all?

            That the Colony knew what was happening, but once it was captured on screen weren’t proud of everything they saw. That for the individuals involved they way they see themselves is not necessarily the way they are seen by others. That Jeff wanted to bring visibility to a group of outliers so people would know more, but also knew that communities are never as perfect as they think and that he knew he would find good television.

            Trying to hijack this issue to fit your agenda only exacerbates the unknowns around this issue.

            Things aren’t simply black or white. Good or evil. Right or wrong. And neither is this situation.

            Something we should all know better.

          • Hi Jessie,

            No long reply this time… but I’d love to chat with you one day soon. Please call me: 202-643-7430. I’d like to learn more about your concerns AND to find out in what ways you’re willing to help us here at Society Matters. Your insights & high standards would be a real asset to our staff — and to our readers.

            Enjoy the rest of the weekend…

  • Jcollins

    I am Jeff Collins.  Everyone who replied here — thank you.  Why would I dignify this man’s request for anything when I can speak to the national press any time I wish vs. some blogger who is disgruntled ex- National Geographic employee with an agenda to try to harass and embarrass his former employer.  Collins Ave is an international company with worldwide tentacles and vast resources.  If anyone cares to do their research you will find that I am an accomplished producer with many hit TV shows under my belt. “Meet the Hutterites” played out exactly the way I thought it should and no one was mislead about anything. I speak to the people at King Colony on a daily basis.  The Canadian Elders are upset about the show for the EXACT reasons Dorothy points out.
    If I were Mr. Marison I would find a new enemy to harass or at the very least make SURE everything said is accurate and doesn’t defame me, my investors or the National Geographic Society with is owned by the second largest corporation in the world. Please visit me at to learn more.  Unscripted TV is the fastest growing entertainment medium of our time.  Those who don’t understand it or refuse to try will be left behind. 

    • Dear Jeff,

      Thanks for stopping by — especially since you blocked me on Twitter. No hard feelings, though. You’re always welcome to share your thoughts and perspectives here. At Society Matters, we value an open, civil exchange of views.

      A couple of quick responses to your message:

      – You have dignified me with a response by leaving a comment here. I appreciate it. 
      – Your “national press” vs. “some blogger” conceit reflects a deep misunderstanding of what is happening in media. The balance of power is shifting, which is why so many media companies are in financial trouble. 
      – I love your description of Collins Ave as being “an international company with worldwide tentacles. [emphasis added] But I’m not sure that image is one that does you any favors. 
      – No one doubts your ability to produce hit shows. Bridezillas, Fly Girls, Outrageous Kids Parties, and more — you’ve clearly found a niche in the world of reality programming. 
      – You’re right that “Meet The Hutterites played out exactly the way [you] thought it should.” But that’s the whole point, Jeff: It did NOT play out the way the Hutterites of King Colony were led to believe it would. You did a branding bait-and-switch, a clever sleight-of-hand which I outlined in this post
      – I don’t consider you my enemy, Jeff. Not at all. Rather, I think of you as a creative voice that uses a Society of which I’m a member as a platform for your storytelling. But in the case of Meet The Hutterites, you let your ends get polluted by your means. As a result, you left behind a lot of collateral damage. (Details coming very soon.) I’m simply looking for constructive ways for you to help heal the wounds. 
      – When you write: “I would … make SURE everything said is accurate and doesn’t defame me, my investors or the National Geographic Society with is owned by the second largest corporation in the world” … well, that sounds very aggressive, Jeff. And since we’re all pulling in the same direction here – good, truthful, fair storytelling that doesn’t hurt the people you claim to be helping — I hope that you and “the second largest corporation in the world” will make a good faith effort to help the Hutterites of King Colony. 

      And for the record: You didn’t promise “unscripted TV”; you promised a documentary that would reflect the spirit and good nature of the National Geographic‘s 1970 magazine article. 

      Let’s commit ourselves to working together — with each other, with the Hutterites, with the Channel, and with the National Geographic Society — to recapture the creative and constructive spirit you must have projected when this whole project began.

      Thanks again for stopping by, and for sharing your thoughts.


    • Mattas1

      Your nothing but a lier why are all the people of king colony letting out wat really happened

    •  Collins, we know who owns Hollywood and their purpose: To corrupt, pervert, propagandize and make your dollar…..well, enjoy it while you can buckaroo, you have your part in hell.

    • MOON187

      IS IT TRUE THEIR WONT BE A SECOND SEASON!!! UGH,,,MABEY U CAN SET UP SOME KIND OF SHOW  WHERE WE CANS EE CLAUDIA GO TO SCHOOL or bertha cook,,or wesley doing something?i loved seeing the simple way of life and the soulful nature of the people 

    • Kathy Stahl

      Hi Jeff,
      Thank you for clarifying the intentions and agenda of Mr Mairson. I knew from his initial post that his intentions weren’t honorable and that there was more to his story. Off course we didn’t know his history!

      On another note, you did a remarkable job representing Hutterite Life, it is absolutely amazing that you were able to capture the key points in just 10 episodes. That is why you are the producer. Thank you!

      • Hi Kathy,

        Thanks for your note. And it’s true: You don’t know my history, but I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.

        For instance, it might be helpful to know that what I’ve been writing about here at Society Matters I said, in general terms, for a good ten years before I left National Geographic in 2008. The Society, like all media companies, has some very serious challenges ahead; I happen to think that joining forces with News Corp & Rupert Murdoch is not to the long-term benefit of NGS. 

        Re: my intentions, and whether they’re honorable — I’m spending my free time to help an organization I care about find a new path through a confusing media maze. Why do you think that’s not honorable? I don’t call anyone names; I don’t disparage any reputations; I simply shine a light on what I think National Geographic is doing wrong, and on what I think could be made right. 

        Re: Meet The Hutterites — I’ve asked Jeff for one thing, and one thing only: a detailed account of how he constructed and shot this series. The Making of ‘Meet The Hutterites’… the sort of thing you might see as an extra on a DVD. Is that a dishonorable request? 

        Finally: Are you a resident of King Colony? I ask because most of the colony members are upset with the results of this TV series. Isn’t it worth finding out why? 

        Thanks again for your comment, and your honesty.


  • So, Jeff Collins supplied alcohol to underage people???!!!  I’m pretty sure most of them are under 21. I am sickened by all of this and I hope King Colony sues!  

    • Hmmm… the drinking age. That’s an interesting point, Kathlean. Thanks for mentioning it.

      • jeff collins

        That’s a lie. Jeff Collins (that’s me) owns the production company and did not supervise and aspect of the physical shooting, my employees did. My employees did not ever supply alcohol to underage teens. WE KNOW THE LAWS are not new to making TV. *If you only knew what we DID NOT SHOW to protect the underage teens and minors you would have a different view of production. For example, the death rates for children and teens on any Hutterite Colony should be examined. There have been numerous deaths due to (one example) a 9 year old behind the wheel of a piece of heavy farm equipment. In my opinion — a 9 year old should be in school, not behind the wheel of a tractor.

        • That’s a great observation, Jeff. Attention should definitely be paid to those sorts of tragedies, and I hope you find a way to shine a bright light on them. That said, the issue (for me, anyway) is that you did not deliver what you promised to deliver. You did a head fake at the start (“the Channel is the Magazine on TV”) because you knew there was no other way for a “Hollywood type” (your words) to get access to King Colony. But then, once you started shooting — and once the dailies were looking too tame – you unilaterally changed the rules. That, I think, is why so many people feel misled. Thanks for stopping by again. And by the way: I would much prefer to just have a straight Q&A about the show. I don’t know why you’re willing to engage on Twitter and in this discussion forum, but then hide behind the excuse that only NGC can give you approval to talk about the show. You’re talking incessantly about it online. Why not open the windows & let a little sun shine in? It would help bring this controversy to a resolution… assuming, of course, that you want the controversy to end.Thanks for considering this. best,Alan

          • I’d like nothing better than to see a ”showdown” between the 2 of you, Jeff and Alan, but not on account of the hutterites. Also, Jeff,don’t give us that bull that you respected King’s wishes on some of the story lines.You did want to sensationalize the hutterites.You wanted to interview my brother-in-law,thank God he refused.You weren’t satisfied with a take, cos it was too ”boring” so you had to do it over again.And why didn’t you do more scenes of church services or of King singing in church.There is good at King col.and don’t say that you respected their wishes to stay away from the spiritual aspect of it. You’r ppl we’re invited to a funeral without your cameras and you refused, and I wondered why,I still do, for I;m sure you would have been there in a heartbeat with your cameras.You’ve got what you wanted,and I hope you’re happy, Jeff …all the best to both of you,Liz

  • National Geographic has an agenda to corrupt anything holy, especially Christianity.  Stupid foolish men….it has withstood thousands of years and will endure despite your efforts.  I, for one, and I am not alone, are turning your channel off.

    • Hi Tina,

      Thanks for your comment & your concern. I can’t speak for the National Geographic Channel, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. But I do know lots of people who work for National Geographic magazine, and I can assure you they do NOT have “an agenda to corrupt anything holy, especially Christianity.” They’re good people.

      But I encourage you not to just turn off the Channel & walk away. Instead, you could ask for some accountability, some answers. If you’re interested, take a peek at our attempt to get an interview with National Geographic Chairman & CEO John Fahey: Dear John: Let’s Talk.

      Every “Like” counts. 🙂

      Thanks for considering this…

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