The state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, center, speaks with Jason Rygaard of Port Angeles-based Rygaard Logging Inc., as cameraman Brian Andrews of Original Productions tapes their talk Friday for an episode of “Ax Men Reborn” on the History Channel, set to premiere later this year. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

The state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, center, speaks with Jason Rygaard of Port Angeles-based Rygaard Logging Inc., as cameraman Brian Andrews of Original Productions tapes their talk Friday for an episode of “Ax Men Reborn” on the History Channel, set to premiere later this year. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Series to feature Rygaard logging family member

PORT ANGELES — A new History Channel reality series, “Ax Men Reborn,” will feature a Rygaard logging family member and, for one episode, an appearance by Washington state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.

Franz, in Port Angeles on Friday to discuss pending state legislation on wildfire suppression with the Peninsula Daily News and to visit with several constituents, filmed a documentary-style snippet for an episode featuring Jason Rygaard of Rygaard Logging Inc., in which the two are talking about the timber industry.

“It’s something that the department wanted us to do for them so they could state their view on the lumber industry, which we incorporate into the program,” said Ernie Avila, chief operating officer for Original Productions, which is producing the series.

Avila said Rygaard Logging, which fells timber on DNR land, will play a key role in the new show, which will premiere in July.

The new series is an extension of the logging industry series “Ax Men,” which was itself axed in 2016 after a nine-year run.

“We’re at ‘Ax Men,’ Season 10,” Avila said Friday of the new show.

“Ax Men” featured Jason Rygaard’s late brother Gabe, the 45-year-old father of three and owner of Rygaard Logging who died in a three-vehicle collision west of Port Angeles in 2016.

Rygaard could not be reached for comment, and a message left for a family member was not returned.

The new show keeps its focus on the family.

“The storyline is going to focus on Gabe’s brother, Jason,” Avila said.

“The father is trying to get the company back on track, with that tragic event with Gabe.”

That part of the 10-episode season that focuses on Rygaard explores the theme of getting the company re-established and keeping alive “the tradition of Rygaard logging,” Avila said.

Original Productions, based in Burbank, Calif., bills itself at www.origprod.com as “a multi Emmy award-winning force in unscripted television.”

Avila calls it “docutainment” that thrives on workaday people.

“What we do is follow along with the individual while they’re doing their regular work and not inserting the reality-type producing into it,” he said.

“We do the factual reporting of it and put it into an entertainment format.

“You get the reality of what it takes to do that job.”

Here’s History Channel’s official logline, or summary, of the show:

“The logging families of the Pacific Northwest have been torn apart since ‘Ax Men,’ ” it says.

“Untimely deaths and a changing economic landscape have threatened family businesses.

“For this new generation of loggers, now is the time to start wielding the ax as the timber industry is on the upswing again and the old guard is looking for redemption.”

About four million viewers were watching “Ax Men” in 2010. Even more popular shows produced by Original Productions include “Swamp People,” “Deadliest Catch,” “Ice Road Truckers” and “1,000 Ways to Die,” according to www.imdb.com, an online entertainment database and subsidiary of Amazon.com.

Avila said Franz likely would be featured in the show’s first episode.

“I had a great conversation with Jason about the importance of the timber industry for Port Angeles and our state,” Franz said Friday in an email.

“It’s important to highlight the many benefits of working forests.

“Timber harvests on trust lands fund our schools and communities, support family-wage jobs and provide us with materials we use every day.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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