Clash of the Ozarks
In the winter and early spring of 2014, the Discovery Channel broadcast a short-lived reality show whose storyline involved a reported century-old family feud in the town of Hardy (Sharp County). Clash of the Ozarks, as it was called, ran for one six-episode season and was not renewed.
David George, the vice president of Leftside Pictures and producer of two episodes of the series, was visiting the Ozarks seeking a cast for an entirely different storyline than Clash of the Ozarks. While visiting Hardy, he met Gary “Crowbar” Russell, the host of a local access television show, Ozark Outdoors. As George listened to Russell’s family stories, he became convinced they could provide material for a successful reality show.
Russell had told George the story of the feud between his family and the Evans family, which was said to have begun sometime in the nineteenth century when a fight broke out at a local dance. Before the fight could be stopped, three people were reportedly killed. The feud sparked by this event, Russell claimed, continued to the present time.
While this feud served as the backdrop to the series, the twenty-first-century storyline centered around the potential loss of Russell’s farm. Russell needed the money from his main source of income, a moonshine still, to pay his taxes. When the still was destroyed, his ability to pay his taxes and retain his land was in jeopardy. Russell was convinced that Kerry Wayne Evans had destroyed the still. Evans, who was believed to be conspiring with a local wealthy woman known as the “baroness,” would then pay the delinquent taxes and claim the Russell farm. The main characters other than Russell and Evans were Russell supporters Sevella and John “Marty” Terrell, Jimmy Haney, and Mark Gordon, as well as Evans accomplice Renee Clay, the “baroness.”
The weekly series premiered on February 25, 2014, with the final episode airing on April 1, 2014. The show did not air a second season. Although inadequate ratings may have contributed to the cancelation of the series, the legal troubles of the series cast were also a factor. Evans was sentenced to six months of house arrest, a $4,000 fine, and three years of probation for illegal ownership of an operating machine gun in 2014. That same year, Terrell was charged with manslaughter in a car accident and was facing various drug charges, and Haney was arrested for felony drug possession and parole violation. Any hopes of a second season likely ended when Russell suffered a fatal heart attack in 2016. The fact that Russell’s enemy, Kerry Evans, served as an honorary pallbearer at his funeral provides an interesting end to the story.
For additional information:
“Clash of the Ozarks.” Internet Movie Database. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3520612/ (accessed November 20, 2020).
“Garry Russell.” Find-a-Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/162437501/garry-russell (accessed November 20, 2020).
Stephenson, Will. “Hardly Hardy: Small Town Arkansas Gets Caricatured in ‘Clash of the Ozarks,’ Locals Welcome It.” Arkansas Times, March 20, 2014, pp. 17–22.
CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas
Last Updated: 11/20/2020