The Herald Bulletin

September 9, 2013

Local casket maker solicited to participate in reality show

Owners prepare audition tape, receive positive support

By Traci L. Moyer The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — Rumors of a television show featuring specialized coffins and real-life casket makers have been circling in the world of entertainment for a couple of years. The reality, however, could feature a local business and filming could begin in the near future.

Chris Boots, founder and president of C.J. Boots Casket Co., 516 Meridian St., said his business was approached to participate on a reality show and producers seem eager to start casting immediately. The casket company specializes in unique woodwork and custom, detailed coffins.

Boots said he was surprised by the solicitation and they have also already spoken to production members in a video conference call.

“Hopefully this is something positive for the community,” Boots said. “If it is along the flavor of ‘Duck Dynasty’ that’s not so bad.”

Details on the show are vague at this point, but Boots said the show is for a major television producer who has created such shows as “The Office,” “Ugly Betty,” “Master Chef,” “The Biggest Loser” and “The Hero.” He said he is under the impression that the show would be a series based around his business and its ability to create caskets that reflect the personalities of the deceased.

“There really isn’t anyone that does what we do,” he said.

An email from the casting company sent to Boots says the show will feature a casket maker whose only goal is to please the sensitive wishes of the customer and create a coffin “so broadly variant that the only limitation is the customer’s imagination.” It says that Americans are starting to “borrow” from British and African cultures and have fun in honoring the deceased with specialized caskets.

An almost identical email, however, was also sent to Jason Straw, a wood worker in Gainsville, Fla., who posted the information on a social network page. Straw creates custom furniture, cabinets and flooring. Attempts to contact Straw were unsuccessful.

Nathan Smith, co-owner of ‘Til We Meet Again, has also been contacted a number of times by reality producers about his casket company.

‘Til We Meet Again is a retail store featuring both metal and hardwood customized caskets sold from mall storefronts. Its nearest retail location is in Fort Wayne.

“If the show is done right, it would be good for the industry,” Smith said. “We are too busy right now running our business to be on a reality show.”

Boots said he has those same concerns.

“We still have a business to run and a product to get out,” Boots said.

Anderson has been fairly popular recently with reality programs including Spike TV’s “Repo Games,” MTV’s “Teen Mom,” HBO’s documentary “Dirty Driving” and a local Gothic family on ABC’s “Wife Swap.”

Boots posted the following message on the “If you grew up in Anderson, IN.” Facebook page: “Interview with Hollywood Producers today for a new reality TV show for custom caskets. Shooting video all day Friday. Thank you Madison County for all your support!!! Cross your fingers!”

More than 130 people have liked and commented on the announcement including Lillian Taylor, Anderson. Taylor is a family friend of Boots and said that while she is not a fan of reality shows, she would watch it if he was featured.

“I’ve known him since he was a teenager,” Taylor said. “He is a good young man. He’s very committed to whatever he takes on.”

Like Traci L. Moyer on Facebook and follow her @ moyyer on Twitter, or call 648-4250.

For more on C.J. Boots Casket Co., see Page A3.