Things got heavy -- literally -- during the TCA Cable Press Tour last week when Eric Esch (better known as the 400 pound heavyweight boxer Butterbean) took the stage to discuss his new series, "Big Law: Deputy Butterbean."
In the reality TV show, Esch, who has been deputized by the Walker County Sheriff's office, partners with fellow deputy Adam Hadder to bust bad guys in and around his hometown of Jasper, Alabama. When one journalist wondered if Steven Seagal's short-lived show, "Steven Seagal: Lawman" was an inspiration, though, that idea was quickly smacked to the matt.
Though producer Lorri Leighton dodged the question by praising Esch, Hadder wasn't as political. "Butterbean's much better than Seagal," he joked.
Esch agreed, adding, "And cuter, by the way. Just thought I'd throw it out there. Well, a lot cuter."
But when it was suggested that, thanks to Seagal's show and another starring Erik Estrada on CBS, Esch might not be taken seriously, Hadder didn't joke around. "I don't think a lot of them took the Seagal show seriously because he did not live there," he said. "He wasn't from New Orleans, I believe is where it was filmed. And he just kind of came in and filmed and he was gone. Butterbean's just like me. We're born and raised there and grew up in Jasper and Walker County, and so he was well known. And so me, I guess, going back to your question, I like it. I've enjoyed having him with us."
Esch continued, "I'd like to throw something on top of that. I did this because it's my hometown. I live there.... A lot of the other reality shows, they're just doing it just to be on TV. I did it before the TV. I did it because I care about my town. I mean, the only bad thing about the show that's going to come from it, more people's gonna want to move there." Then, he added with a grin, "But, you know, if they're good people, we don't mind."
The show, which promises to show "every training session, patrol ride and bad-guy bust that Butterbean experiences" premieres on the Investigation Discovery network Tues. Aug. 9 at 10 p.m.