If you love Dave Hester on A&E's Storage Wars, you better make sure to tune in to the now-airing season 4, because as of recently, Hester, the series' favorite love-to-hate figure, has been fired and is no longer a part of the show.
According to Hester, he was fired for complaining about how producers stage the storage units - and now he's suing for wrongful termination, breach of contract and unfair business practices, amongst other things.
In Hester's lawsuit, not only does he suggest that A&E has committed fraud on the public, he also goes on to describe familiar examples in which chicanery was afoot on the series:
A&E regularly plants valuable items or memorabilia. By way of example, in one episode a pile of old newspapers announcing the death of Elvis Presley was discovered. In another episode, a BMW mini car was found buried under a pile of trash. When Plaintiff David Hester ("Hester") complained to producers that A&E's fraudulent conduct of salting and staging the storage lockers was possible illegal, he was from the Series.
Defendants Original Producers, LCC ("Original"), the producer of the Series, and A&E Television Networks, LLC ("AETN"), the distributor of the Series, would like the public to believe that the Series present a genuine and accurate portrayal of the abandoned storage locker auction process. The truth, however, is that nearly every aspect of the Series in faked, even down the plastic surgery that one of the female cast members underwent in order to create more "sex appeal" for the show, the of which was paid for by Original. Original regularly "salts" the storage lockers that are the subject of the auctions portrayed on the Series with valuable or unusual items to add dramatic effect, even going so far as to stage entire storage units. Original also manipulates the outcome of certain auctions by paying for storage units on behalf of the weaker cast members who lack both the skill and financial wherewithal to place winning bids.
For fans of the series, the Elvis newspaper stash and hidden BMW are memorable moments in the show - though suggestions that those moments, as well as many others, are faked aren't likely to surprise anyone who watches Storage Wars. What is surprising, however, is why A&E and Original Producers decided to make Dave Hester - arguably the most successful and business-minded individual on the series - their enemy.
Over the past 3 seasons (season 4 is currently airing), Hester has spent a total of $78,210 on storage units, ultimately garnering him profits of almost $300,000. Still, that's likely nothing compared to how much Hester has earned from simply appearing on the series, which (as both A&E and Hester will tell you) is one of the most popular shows on A&E, if not cable TV as a whole. At this point, most television networks have their own version of Storage Wars.
Whether or not Hester's claims are true still remains to be seen. Although, it should be noted that even though Hester has profited from the series, having him speak out about staged units and inappropriate production involvement lends much more credibility than if it were any other cast member complaining. Fortunately for A&E, this might turn out to be a problem for the production company, Original Productions, more than the network itself. Original Productions' stable of shows includes 2 Storage Wars spin-offs and a Gold Rush: Alaska-esque series, Bering Sea Gold; they also have TruTV's Black Gold, which is famous for fan complaints about how poorly-staged everything is. They even went as far as tracking down actors and actresses who stood in for real-life people on the series.
Will this impact the future of Storage Wars? Like most things, we'll just have to wait and see. However, with Hester no longer part of the cast, his disappearance will be as noticeable as it is detrimental. Even though fans of the series love to hate him, Hester was the most professional of the bunch, helping to elevate the entire series to something other than upscale garage selling. Without Hester, fans just have to hope that Barry Weiss, a friend of the show's creator, can step up to fill the loss of intrigue.
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Storage Wars airs Tuesday @9pm on A&E.