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Thomas twins keep TV dream alive

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — El Pinto reality show … take two?

Courtesy of El Pinto

Courtesy of El Pinto

The owners of the well-known North Valley restaurant are still pursuing their TV dreams, only now they intend to do it on their own terms. After previous attempts to create a reality show with experienced production teams that ultimately felt too forced or phony, Jim and John Thomas are forging ahead with their own, newly established production company and their own vision.

The duo told the Journal Monday they have enough footage for the first episode of “Raw & Wild,” a series that would feature their travels around the state to learn about New Mexico food sources — from piñon to chokecherries to brown trout — and how they are used in traditional cooking. They don’t have a distribution deal and the pilot still requires editing and some other post-production work — in fact, the owners are this week launching a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter to raise about $17,800 to cover some of the remaining expenses.

But the Thomases think their idea has potential given the country’s growing interest in healthy, unprocessed food. And perhaps more important, they say it would be authentic because it highlights their genuine interest in local food and time-tested recipes.

“It’s going to be a true reality (show) based on true reality,” Jim Thomas said.

El Pinto announced in the summer of 2014 that it was under agreement to develop a reality show with a pair of media companies. By early 2015, they had parted ways with one but were still working with the other on a “sizzle reel” sales tape.

Having now worked on the project with multiple parties for more than a year, they said they realized that a Hollywood version of their story would likely mean behind-the-scenes finagling to create certain characters, conflict or storylines that did not ring true.

“We saw which road they wanted to go down with drama and all that,” Jim Thomas said. “(It) was presented to us ‘Why don’t you do something that’s more realistic and true to who you are?’
“We thought this is something we could really get into.”

They have already invested heavily in the “Raw & Wild” idea. Though they will not say exactly how much they already have pumped into the project, Doug Evilsizor, El Pinto’s marketing director, said it’s “two to three times what we’re asking the public to contribute.”
They say the crowd-funding campaign is also a way to gauge how interesting others find their idea.

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