'Blood & Oil' gives North Dakota oilfields soap opera treatment

Tue Sep 22, 2015 7:19am EDT
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By Ernest Scheyder

WILLISTON, N.D. (Reuters) - North Dakota's oil boom gets the Hollywood soap opera treatment in ABC's "Blood & Oil," which explores the insatiable lust for money and opportunity that defined the tens of thousands who built the state into an energy giant and rival to OPEC members.

The series, which premieres on Sunday, tracks a young couple played by Chace Crawford and Rebecca Rittenhouse who aim to open a laundromat in burgeoning Rock Springs, a fictional oil boomtown based on real-life Williston.

After a setback and in desperate need of cash, Crawford's character engineers a land deal that gives him financial leverage over the local oil tycoon and his wife, played by Don Johnson and Amber Valletta.

"We were really interested in the modern-day version of the 1849 gold rush, in that theme of boom and bust" Josh Pate, the show's co-creator, told Reuters.

The series explores many common challenges of North Dakota's oil boom, including the lack of affordable housing, get-rich-quick deals and the rise in crime.

Crawford's character deposits a $1.1 million check at a local bank in the first episode, a step that seems unrealistic to most Americans but a common occurrence here at one time.

"They say the first million is the hardest," Crawford's character tells the bank teller, a reference to oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens.

Johnson's character was based in part on legendary wildcatter Harold Hamm, the founder of North Dakota's second-largest oil producer, Continental Resources Inc.   Continued...

Cast members Don Johnson (L) and Chace Crawford from "Blood & Oil" speak at a panel for the ABC television series during the Television Critics Association Cable Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills, California August 5, 2015. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok