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Author says Hutterite show was fabricated

This undated image released by National Geographic Channels shows a Hutterite family in Lewistown, Mont. "Meet the Hutterites," is a National Geographic documentary series about a small religious colony in rural Montana. (AP Photo/National Georgraphic, Ben Shank)

The Hutterites of King Ranch Colony in Montana, who were featured in the National Geographic Channel's recent series "Meet The Hutterites," are speaking publicly for the first time through a former Hutterite.

Mary-Ann Kirkby, author of the book "I Am Hutterite," recently issued a news release claiming to be on behalf of the colony in Montana.

Kirkby said Jeff Collins, the executive producer of "Meet The Hutterites," insists that the people from King Ranch Colony love the show and that it is a factual representation of their lives.

Not true, according to Kirkby, who cited colony residents who are now coming forward with testimonies about being pressured and coerced into staging scenes to create drama intended to boost TV ratings.

Scripted scenes and dialogue assigned to colony members have been rescued from the garbage, Kirkby said, which she cited as "clear evidence" that the episodes were staged.

Collins signed a contract with the colony to make a documentary, but soon after production began, residents were told their lives were "too boring." New, completely fabricated scenes were then staged and shot to create a reality TV program, Kirkby alleged.

Kirkby said that according to colony residents, the series does not reflect their daily lives and misrepresents not only their community and its core values, but Hutterite culture in general.

Leaders of King Ranch Colony have asked to meet with David Lyle, CEO of the National Geographic Channel, Kirkby said, but Lyle has ignored them. Now, the Hutterites are taking their case to John Fahey, chairman and CEO of the National Geographic Society, and to the Society's board of trustees.

King Ranch leaders say the series is in serious breach of contract and they will settle for nothing less than a public apology from the National Geographic Society, according to Kirkby's news release.

They also are demanding that all 10 episodes of the series never again be aired or duplicated anywhere in any format at any time.