New Alaska reality show to feature Russian Old Believers

A view of the Kenai peninsula with a light dusting of snow is seen across Turnagain Arm Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, near Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)The latest installment of Alaska reality TV will feature the small, isolated communities of Russian Old Believers that call the Kenai Peninsula home. National Geographic Channel is interested in profiling families who live in the Old Believer villages and are specifically looking for “big personalities.”

Natalia Livingston is a producer with National Geographic Channel. She says a casting call will take place Tuesday evening in the Russian Old Believer village of Nikolaevsk, between Homer and Anchor Point.

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“We’re just looking for big personalities and people excited to be part of the show,” said Livingston.

Livingston says the idea for the show came last summer from an Alaskan who works for National Geographic.

“We heard about this community of Old Believers and … basically, we just researched them a little bit and came up with a pitch,” she said.

That pitch includes money, of course. Executive Producer Lisa Blake told the Homer Tribune that each family would earn $3,500 per episode of the show, which is tentatively planned to run for three years.

In addition to its very popular show “Alaska State Troopers,” National Geographic Channel has produced a couple of programs that have focused on small, isolated religious cultures like the Mennonites and the Hauterites.

Livingston says National Geographic Channel has already made contact with a handful of Old Believers in Nikolaevsk and has a number of cast members already set.

In particular, the show’s producers are looking for large families involved in the fishing and boat-building industries.

One issue the producers might face when they arrive in Alaska is the very thing that attracts them to the idea of the show – the fact that the Kenai Peninsula’s four small communities of Russian Old Believers are isolated. The three small Old Believer villages at the head of Kachemak Bay – Voznesenka, Razdolna and Kachemak-Selo – are particularly isolated and although the people who live there participate on the broader Homer community, they still like to keep to themselves.

“We are aware of that,” said Livingston. ” So far we have a had a great response and … people have been very interested in talking to us.”

The casting call will take place at Nikolaevsk School, beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday evening.

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