Somewhere in the idiot sphere millionaire machinist Paul Teutel Sr. will still rage and spit. Somewhere Paulie the temperamental artist will never stop trying to transform a perfectly rideable motorcycle into a nine foot long, 800 pound butterfly. And, for as long as electromagnetic waves persist in interstellar space, Mikey will always be a moron. But the last new episode of American Chopper airs this Thursday on the TLC Network.
After six long seasons, our national nightmare is finally over. This ending is hardly a surprise. News that American Choppers was finished popped out of Mikey’s mouth on -where else- The Larry King Show last June.
“I think – I’m taking a lot of liberty in saying this, but I think it is over after this season,” Mikey told the venerable interviewer.
When King wondered “Why,” Mikey, who may not have been as stupid as he seemed, explained “It’s just run its course…We are going off the air…I’m tired of doing the show.”
“You leave and there is no show,” King wondered.
“I don’t know. I’m not willing to hedge my bet. You know what happened to David Caruso. He got flung across the kitchen floor on that one. As far as doing this, and being with family and the politics involved, and all the animosity and just everything bad that goes with it….”
Mikey’s voice trailed off after he realized he had actually compared himself to former television heart throb David Caruso.
Mikey Was Right
Last Saturday, TLC confirmed Mikey’s prediction. TLC issued a statement that read, “The Teutuls will always be a part of the Discovery family and we congratulate them on a tremendously successful series run.” TLC is one of the “Discovery Networks.”
American Chopper debuted on Discovery in 2003. The show moved to TLC for the 2008 season. The idea was for the motorcycle reality series to provide a lead in and deliver an audience for another TLC show about a lovable and cantankerous family. This time the relatives were house movers and the show was called Heavy Haulers.
American Chopper was the creation of a television producer named Craig Piligian. Piligian founded a production company named Pilgrim Films and Television to provide “reality content” for the Discovery Networks. Piligian is a former producer on the CBS program Survivor and his first independent hit for Discovery was Real Stories of the Highway Patrol.
Pilgrim Films has also produced Dirty Jobs, The Ultimate Fighter, Extreme Loggers, Ghost Hunters, TapouT, Sandhogs, Worst Case Scenario and Destroyed in Seconds. Last April Piligian told the New York Daily News that the secret of American Chopper’s success was that television viewers were “looking for more uplifting, happier, self-help, aspirational,” programming. “There’s enough bad news out there,” he said.
Uplifting, Happier Lawsuits
As it turns out, not all of the bickering on American Chopper was as good natured and uplifting as it was supposed to seem.
Last season both Paulie and Mikey quit their father’s business. During the run of the show Paul Sr. defended himself against lawsuits by former employees and in a bankruptcy fraud case.
Last May Cody Connelly, a kid who first appeared in the pilot for the show when he was 14 and worked for the Teutels until he was 20 sued four corporations and one Paul Sr. for back pay. The suit alleged that Connelly “appeared and participated in approximately 92 additional episodes of the show” but has so far only “received payment for 31 episodes.” That he “appeared, attended and participated in numerous events, shows, festivals and autograph signings on behalf ” of the show without being paid. And, finally that “in an episode of the show occurring on or about June 30, 2003 before millions of viewers defendant Paul Teutul, Sr. gifted to plaintiff the motorcycle known as the ‘Old School Chopper’ that plaintiff helped design. To date the chopper has not been delivered to plaintiff.”
Last December, Paul Teutel, Sr, sued Paul Teutel, Jr. in Orange County (New York) Supreme Court to determine the value of his son’s 20 percent interest in Orange County Choppers and to buy his son out.
Never Can Say Goodbye
Stephen Markovits, an attorney for Orange County Choppers said this weekend that the cancellation of the show is not really “goodbye.”
Markovits said that Orange County Choppers will continue to sell custom motorcycles at its 30,000-square-foot retail store in Newburgh, New York.
This summer, the Orange County Choppers “crew” will open a restaurant next to company headquarters and the “crew” will soon announce details of a nationwide tour. “We’re going to continue on,” Markovits promised.
And, then there are also all those shows still travelling at the speed of light through deep space.