Little Rock, Arkansas - A sub shop in Little Rock, traded three meat-lovers subs, for what turned out to be the only known copy of a lost pilot episode of '80s TV smash hit, The Dukes Of Hazzard.
The episode, which die-hard Dukes fans refer to as 'the legendary lynching episode', was supposed to be the show's series premiere, before the big-wigs up in N.Y.C. got a look at the finished product.
"We wanted an authentic look of the south," admitted Ari Wickmeyer, on a Zoom call from a Florida Senior Center. He was the executive producer on the show in the 1980s. We caught up with him playing Chinese checkers. "We said, 'Hire some writers, directors and crew from the south, and let them get to it. Call us when you're done. Bye.' And I hung up," explained Wickmeyer.
"Three weeks later, what we got was Uncle Jesse holding a black man at gun point to open the very first episode," tells a forlorn Mr. Wickmeyer. "I was, like, I do not like where this is going..."
Sure enough, once Rosco and Boss Hogg arrive on the scene to investigate what Uncle Jesse says was a 'peeping-tom' in Daisy's window, the gang string the man up to the back of Cooter's tow truck and half-drag him, dangling back to the town jail.
In the episode, the man survives the 5-mile journey over bumpy dirt roads. Barely conscious but able to speak, he agrees to plead guilty if they leave him alone. They make him sweep the entire town with a fireplace broom and shovel. And clean Boss Hogg's Cadillac with a toothbrush.
"But we says, 'Hey, this ain't gonna fly,'" explains WIckmeyer. "There ain't nearly enough car jumpin' in this episode. So I says, 'fellas, hows about you put the African American gentleman in Bo and Luke's trunk, and take him for a little ride!
"And boy did they ever! They totaled four or five cars on that first episode alone. Cost a damn fortune!"
"Eventually, a bunch of associations put the kibosh on the whole thing. I understand, I guess. Whaddya gonna do? Diff'rent era. Damn shame, though, that one would have won an Emmy," adds a wistful Wickmeyer. 'You can barely tell that the black guy is really Cooter in black face, either. Can ya? Great make up artist, the best, went on to do CATS.'
"Times change, now it'd be a Mexican guy, I guess, right?" said Wickmeyer, as we started to hang up on him. "Damn, I lost again! Marty, you always beat me! I ain't payin'! I was on a damn phone call!"
Bidding for the lost episode's 47-minute BETA tape will be done online at Christy's (Not the auction house, but the sub shop in downtown Little Rock), with the footage expected to fetch well over $800 (more than likely from pro-golfer, Bubba Watson, who also owns the General Lee, and loves watching movies on BETA tape.)
(Writer's note: No vintage muscle cars were damaged in the writing of this story. And Bubba's OK, too. Black Lives Matter.)