Discovery's tamer 'Wild'

Re-edited episodes clear the air

Discovery Channel on Monday aired re-edited versions of its "Man vs. Wild" for the first time since acknowledging that elements of the unscripted series were faked.

A disclaimer was added to four episodes from the first season that ran consecutively from 7-11 p.m., and other clarifications came in the form of new voice-overs from "Wild" star Bear Grylls and excisions of dubious footage.

In July, the series' British TV network, Channel 4, said it would investigate allegations that Diverse Television, the company that produces "Wild," had misrepresented Grylls' involvement (HR 7/24). Discovery was forced to acknowledge that "some episodes were not natural to the environment," creating a public-relations nightmare for one of its most popular series.

Although the series claims that Grylls braves the great outdoors, there have been several confirmed instances where Grylls either spent nights in a motel when he was depicted as sleeping outside or received off-camera assistance in constructing rafts or bridges he is shown crafting alone.

Beginning with Monday's rebroadcasts, "Wild" will now feature a disclaimer that runs both in the introduction and in the middle of each episode that reads: "Bear Grylls is trained in extreme survival techniques. He and the crew receive support when they are in potentially life-threatening situations, as required by health and safety regulations. Professional advice should always be sought before entering any dangerous environment."

In an episode airing Monday set in the Scottish highlands, Grylls feasts on a rabbit he claims to have caught in a trap he set. But in the re-edited episode, the voice-over makes clear that his crew provides the rabbit for him.

"My trap didn't catch anything overnight, but I've been brought a rabbit to tell you what to do if you're luckier than me," Grylls says in the voice-over.

In another part of that episode, the location of one scene shot relatively close to civilization is specified as such.

An internal team at Discovery has been working around the clock in recent weeks scrutinizing the veracity of every second of the series. As of Monday, additional episodes scheduled to roll out during the next month were still being edited.

"If we found anything that wasn't natural to the environment, we have edited it out," a Discovery spokeswoman said.

For an episode in which Grylls travels to Mexico's Copper Canyon, a new voice-over clarifies that he is wearing a safety harness to descend a chasm. The original episode does not allude to any use of a harness; Grylls typically is depicted as traveling with just a few tools including a knife or flint.

In an episode set in Ecuador, a scene was removed that depicts Grylls going off to sleep in the forest because he in fact slept indoors that night. Another scene in the episode in which he is shown constructing a bamboo bridge now has a voice-over in which Grylls acknowledges that he received help on the project.

An episode set in the Florida Everglades features additional voice-over from Grylls explaining that a sleeping platform he erects above swampland also required assistance.

The new disclaimer also is posted on Discovery's Web home for "Wild," and any online video featured on the site that was changed for broadcast also will be changed. The re-edited episodes will repeat numerous times in the coming weeks on TV as well.

Grylls already is in production on a second season of episodes, which are expected to be edited from the get-go to emphasize the role the "Wild" crew and outside experts play in the production. The second season of "Wild" will roll out in three two-hour installments on Nov. 16, 23 and 30.

Those episodes are set in Patagonia, Panama and Siberia. A fourth episode filmed at an unspecified location is being considered. Grylls also is expected to return next year to shoot a third season.

The second season of "Wild" will be preceded by a Nov. 9 special, "Bear's Everest," in which Grylls attempts to fly over the Himalayas.