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Free beer certainly didn't buy Dan any grandchildren with ladies at the Sea Otter, and the jailbait girls eventually wander off without scandal. Throughout the rest of the day, the keg continues to attract a steady stream of racers and freeloaders. At one point, Mark Weir, a pro downhill racer affiliated with Wilderness Trail Bikes in Mill Valley, cruised by to shoot the shit. To Dan's delight, Weir asks him to join the WTB Factory Team. When I join the chat, Dan asks Mark -- obviously for my benefit -- why he invited him to join his biking team. Weir doesn't start off by saying what a great rider Dan is or even anything to do with riding whatsoever. "Because you bring media," he said. "You know how to promote yourself."
Dan has indeed brought the media this day (and in the best tradition of the media I'm drinking my own share of free beer). Still, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the action is elsewhere. As the sun and the amount of beer in the keg both sink, Dan's spirit seems to sink with them. Sure, we are having a chill time, eating burgers and pounding brews. But for Dan, it isn't as much fun as being "up there" -- the downhill race course off in the distance.
"When I'm not up there, I'm sufferin'," he says.
Two weeks after the Sea Otter, Dan quit smoking weed to clear out his head. After his hellish crazy experience at Alpine Meadows, he had shelved the Kung Fu Honda smash-up derby for lack of a car that he could destroy, and he realized that he needed to plan his shoots more thoroughly. Dan says he actually feels better when he doesn't smoke pot, but then he gets stoned again and forgets about having felt better before he sparked up.
Dan has taken to calling me "Chill Will," which I unexpectedly find flattering. But I've sorta lost touch with his latest schemes, and a couple of weeks went by where I didn't talk to him at all. By now, I'd grown skeptical of his schemes anyway, even if the ones he did pull off deserved recognition. As he lamented that day at Alpine, his knee injury had screwed up his chances of getting a cover story in his hometown newsweekly. I'd originally envisioned a story about a talented and trippy young local showman in search of a show. Instead, I had witnessed a thirtysomething dude living like a frat boy, in danger of becoming a one-hit wonder for a song that no one had ever heard of. His mom was right: Dan had chosen an incredibly difficult path for himself. He wanted to get paid to party -- and become famous for it.
Then he called me with big news: He was going to have his own television show. He'd mentioned the possibility before, but I'd reflexively dismissed it as a bongload boast, something that would never really happen. Being an underground video king was one thing; being a national TV star was another.
According to Dan, his segment on Livin' Large had attracted the attention of Hollywood producers. His connect in SoCal was Nisa Ahmad, an old friend from Claremont Middle School, who had produced the segment for Livin' Large after seeing "Redneck Battle Truck." Afterward, she hooked up with other producers, whom she says "immediately saw his talent" when they saw the segment. Ahmad -- who worked for many years as a talent agent for the Mitchell Agency in San Francisco -- shared their assessment. (At Mitchell, she once represented a model who did a stunt for Jackass and broke her back.)
Dan didn't have his own show just yet, Ahmad said. To use the Hollywood lingo, "It's in development," she says, meaning that she and her partners are shopping the idea of a male-oriented reality TV show with Dan K. Harvest as the star to different television outlets, looking for a taker.
But why Dan?
Ahmad says he's a regular guy who regular guys can relate to, but one they can also envy for the wild and wildly fun stuff he does -- the partying, the bike stunts, the rapping, the videos. "He's a young man that men would like to live their lives through vicariously," she explains, adding that there's a market for a dude like Dan K. on television. "I'm not necessarily going to call him the next Johnny Knoxville, but with Jackass having had its reign, so to speak, there's a space right now."
She suggested that cable channels like FX, which has been looking for new dude-oriented programming, could use someone like Dan K. The new all-dude cable channel currently known as TNN -- sort of a Maxim for television -- is another possibility.
Ahmad was a little mysterious about some details. She wouldn't name her partners, though she said that one has 25 years of executive-producing experience and is well-known in Hollywood. And she refused to divulge the exact premise of the program.
Dan, however, was more forthcoming. He described the show as Mr. Rogers with a comic edge: For instance, Dan K. goes around his neighborhood outing all the stoners at the local snowboard and bike shops. "It would be called, hopefully, Dan K. Harvest Is Crazy at Benvenue Again, something like that." He hopes production will begin by the end of the summer.