When stand-up comedian turned actor Jim Jefferies entertained the troops in Afghanistan, something special happened -- he became completely enamored. He was touched by their heroism, patriotism and love for one another. It was something he could never forget.
Jefferies is not just any ordinary stand-up comedian. He is also the Co-Creator and one of the Executive Producers behind the television hit series Legit -- a television show inspired by his own life.
He discussed his experiences abroad in places like Afghanistan and Iraq with several partners behind Legit and pushed to find another way to give back to the troops during the filming of season two.
CO-Executive Producer Paul Bernard immediately knew what Jefferies wanted and after a quick conversation with Peter O'Fallon, Co-Creator and Executive Producer/Director, the two came up with the unthinkable -- put real veterans who served abroad on the show.
Jefferies, Bernard and O'Fallon agreed to bring the FX original hit series a bit of authenticity but in order to do that, they needed not actors but rather the men and women who once served in uniform -- veterans. What they decided was massive considering scripts needed to be modified in an incredibly short period as did finding approximately forty veterans willing to actually go on the show.
Few would ever be capable of coming through with such a large request to gather forty veterans needed for the show in less than a week's time. One production company has nearly unlimited access to the veteran community and Bernard knew exactly who it was -- Zulu 7 Productions -- a newly formed veteran owned and operated production company.
Zulu 7 founders AK Waters, Dale Comstock and Robert Markovich alerted the troops four days prior to filming and on Monday morning an oversized platoon of veterans who once served in conventional forces all the way to the nation's most elite special operations units, which included US Navy SEALs and Delta Force, took over the set.
The entire crew from Legit was quick to put the veterans to work. Some served as military technical advisors while others volunteered to perform critically needed stunts. A few even had the opportunity to take on much larger roles acting as essential characters for the show.
Jefferies, Bernard and O'Fallon were more than pleased with the veterans who worked on set. In fact, they were elated to work alongside some of America's best and brightest.
In reference to working with the veterans, Paul Bernard said something I will never forget. "This is awesome...These guys are awesome." It wasn't his words that touched me, but how he said it. The best way to describe his actions as he expressed himself is quite simple -- think of a child meeting his favorite superhero -- better yet, think of a child meeting forty superheroes.
This past week in Hollywood, something magical happened. A few outside the box thinkers with exceptionally creative minds were capable in not just bringing approximately forty veterans together and employ them for a few days, but they were actually capable in assisting these former warriors in ways they may never have even realized.
Once a service member leaves the Armed Forces, rarely do they ever get the opportunity to put the uniform back on -- and for many, that is something dearly missed. But this week, a group of veterans put the uniform back on and moved about as if they were once again serving in combat beside their brethren.
What the Legit crew did this week was provide an opportunity for healing. The healing process occurred as a brotherhood of warriors reunited. They shared stories from abroad, divulged individual successes, yet most importantly, they networked with a great team of Hollywood personalities.
Jim Jefferies, Paul Bernard and Peter O'Fallon are brilliant artists but more so, true patriots who really do care about America's veteran community. What they did could be the start of something big for those who once served. Let's just hope that other directors and producers get on board incorporating the veteran community into more Hollywood endeavors.
Legit season two will air in February on FX.
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