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Lights, camera, prom: Upcoming TV documentary series to focus on Tatum High School shindig

By Peggy Jones pljones@news-journal.com
May 22, 2012 at 11 p.m.

The final month of any school year is exciting, particularly for high school seniors.

Schedule the senior prom during the last week of the school year and throw a network filming crew into the mix and you get an unforgettable experience. That's the case this week at Tatum High School.

The Los Angeles-based company that produced "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" and "The Real Housewives of Orange County" is filming a hush-hush docu-series in Tatum that is scheduled to air in September.

Tatum High math teacher and prom director Barbara Puckett said she was contacted by a producer for Evolution Media earlier this year. That's when she learned Tatum was one of several Texas high schools under consideration to be spotlighted in the network reality series.

"They were looking for something unique," Puckett said. "He told us their spin for the network was to focus on the unique traditions across the country with prom. And they wanted a Texas prom."

Particularly, Puckett said, the producers wanted to zoom in on mother-daughter relationships and father-daughter relationships as families were getting ready for prom.

"You know, the dress-buying and the hair and the transportation," she said.

Weeks later, Puckett said, the school learned Tatum High was chosen to be featured.

The production company and school board reached an agreement on filming rights, said high school Principal Bob Garcia.

The school will get a nominal fee, which the principal would not disclose.

"I told them, 'Remember, we have a school to run every day. Keep it down to a minimum.' And they've done a wonderful job," Garcia said. "The production company is friendly and cooperative and non-intrusive in our day."

Why Tatum High? It would appear that Prom 2012 there is, indeed, unique.

The theme is an "Enchanted Evening," Puckett said, and the dress is elegant. That's not so unique.

But the school also is conducting an arrival contest, she said, for the most unique way to arrive at the prom at Longview's Pinecrest Country Club.

"We have students arriving in a helicopter," Puckett said. "And in a semi and on a racing lawn mower. I don't even know what all they're coming in."

After prom, she said, students will change clothes and load into chartered buses to be carried to a destination unknown - a well-guarded surprise location.

And when that's over, the students will get back on the buses for a return trip to the high school stadium, where they will be served a breakfast picnic on the football field and shown their senior videos, Puckett said.

Of course, production company cameras will be rolling and the lights shining all the way.

Puckett said crews will be recording while the ballroom is decorated, as students arrive and during the prom, the after-prom and breakfast picnic.

"This is huge for these kids," Puckett said. "It makes them feel very special. Prom is always a memory-making time of year. But these kids will have their memories of their prom and the events leading up to it in a documentary - forever."



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