From stunt show to documentary

YANKEE LAKE — Raymond Kohn of Champion won’t become a TV star. He’ll have to settle for movie star.

“Stuntlife: The Wild Ride,” a new documentary that chronicles Kohn’s career restaging the antics of “The Dukes of Hazard” as founder of the Northeast Ohio Dukes live stunt show, will premiere Saturday at the Yankee Lake Ballroom, and one of the actors from the popular CBS television show in the late ’70s/early ’80s will be in attendance to host the event.

Kohn said he originally was approached by Highway Pictures about a possible reality series on the NEO Dukes. A signature element of the General Lee, the Duke boys’ orange Dodge Charger from the television series, derailed that idea.

“Because of all the recent anti-Confederate flag things going on, basically they decided it wouldn’t be good for TV, but it would make a good movie, a documentary,” Kohn said.

The General Lee features a Confederate flag on the roof.

A crew filmed the NEO Dukes show last August at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds, and Kohn gave them access to footage he had shot over the years, which includes 22 jumps in his General Lee replica.

The result is an 85-minute film that Kohn described as, “Phenomenal, and I’m not just saying that because it’s me … Watching the video through the 12 years of me doing this and seeing it put from this perspective was like seeing it all for the first time.”

In addition to the stunts, the NEO Dukes have a cast to play the characters from the series. Kohn said seeing how they used footage with his late father, who used to portray Uncle Jesse, was an emotional experience.

“That hit me pretty hard,” he said.

The movie will be shown at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Yankee Lake Ballroom, and copies of the movie will be available on DVD for $20. Byron Cherry, who played Coy Duke during the fifth season of “The Dukes of Hazard,” will serve as host of the evening. Kohn and his group have worked with several former stars of the series over the years.

Starting at 4 p.m. Saturday, the NEO Dukes will have their replica vehicles from “Dukes of Hazard” on display as well as replica cars from the television series “Knight Rider” and the “Smokey and the Bandit” movies.

Kohn said a second film is in the works about their efforts to restore a vintage Trans Am into a replica of the car Burt Reynolds drove in the “Bandit” movies.

agray@tribtoday.com

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