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‘Wild in Waukegan’ ready for a dose of reality

A film crew from 'InvestigatiDiscovery' visited arerecently. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media

A film crew from "Investigation Discovery" visited the area recently. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 5, 2013 2:58PM

When you hear the phrases “National Geographic” and “documentary film crew” and “filming in Waukegan,” it might conjure up images of adventurers in khaki shorts hiding in the bush to catch the wild Waukeganite in its natural habitat.

Maybe we’ll see images of herds collecting at the water’s edge to slake their thirst, only to be threatened by a king salmon lurking beneath the surface. Or maybe the camera crews will document rituals that remain a mystery to scientists, like migration patterns around the Metra station.

But all that comes from an old-school interpretation of the National Geographic mission, which was centered around thick yellow magazines collected by your father. This is 2013, so there is not only a National Geographic Channel floating around basic and/or expanded cable, but it features reality programming. Raise your hand if “The Dog Whisperer” ranks among your guilty pleasures.

In the case of Waukegan, film crews have already been around town capturing images for another of those reality shows, “Drugs, Inc.” For the uninitiated, a definition that would have included me prior to this week, “Drugs, Inc.” dates back to 2010 and comes with episode titles like “Alaska Heroin Rush” and “Meth Boom Montana.”

“Drugs: A multi-billion-dollar industry that fuels crime and violence like no other substance on the planet,” reads the overview at the show’s Web site. “While some users sacrifice their lives to an addiction they can’t escape, others find drugs to be their only saving grace from physical or emotional pain almost impossible to overcome. Where should the lines be drawn in this lucrative industry?”

So that’s why you might see or already have seen small film crews out and about in Waukegan with a Steadicam. What exactly are they up to? Well, for one thing, I’m told they aren’t doing anything that will require road closures, so the Amstutz can stand down for the time being.

According to Lake County Health Department spokeswoman Leslie Piotrowski, the show’s producers have contacted local residents who successfully overcame addiction through health department programs, so the guess here is that our end of the world will join the ranks of Alaska and Montana in the episode guide.

It remains to be seen what the result will be or when it might air, but we’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, feel free to ruminate on what kind of episode title Lake County might inspire. For the record, “Hawaiian Ice” and “Hollywood High” have already been used.

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