A Star Is Reborn

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Dispatches, July 1997


A Star Is Reborn

Marty Stouffer gets a makeover, Hollywood-style
By Johnny Dodd

Take heart, fans of wildlife filmmaker Marty Stouffer: This month, just half a year after being removed from his PBS pulpit, the plaid-clad ex-star of Wild America returns to the spotlight — albeit in a larger and more, well, factually challenged format.

Stouffer, you may recall, was last seen fending off charges that he staged scenes and mistreated animals in filming his documentaries. Now, however, along with brothers Marshall and

T O  T H E

“It was going to be difficult to overcome the shock value when the jury heard the words ‘bubonic plague’ and realized it was being sent through the mail.”

— Attorney George Luther, on the 11th-hour decision of his client, Larry Wayne Harris, to plead guilty to wire fraud. Harris, who claimed to be a CIA agent and a “scientist,” agreed to serve 18 months of probation rather than stand trial for illegally receiving shipments of the virulent germ via the U.S. Postal

Mark, he is the subject of a feel-good feature film creatively titled — you guessed it — Wild America. The movie chronicles the fateful summer of 1967, when the Stouffer boys leave home to film wildlife with a 16-millimeter camera. Along the way they have all sorts of enlightening encounters: one with a giant alligator, another
with an even more giant moose (portrayed by a mule outfitted with strap-on antlers), and finally with a den of cuddly bear cubs. Cranking up the “awww” factor further still, the role of young Marshall is played by cuddly kid actor Jonathan Taylor Thomas of Home Improvement fame.

Sound like one heck of an unbelievable summer? “Ummm … well, it’s based on a true story,” says director William Dear. “Almost every event sort of happened in an almost similar way.”

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