When everyone kept telling her the crazy antics of her security office could be a reality show, Koplan took a stab at her second dream by making a DVD of their typical workdays, unedited and uncensored conversations and behavior included. She sent it away to lifelong friend and reality programming agent, Matthew Saul, and then she waited. And waited. And waited. But her patience paid off in the end. Cable network AMC bit on the idea and Hollywood brought her second dream right to her doorstep. After a year and a half of filming, the first episode of the unscripted docudrama, “Small Town Security,” will air July 15 at 11 p.m. on AMC.
"I just still can't believe it," a very emotional Koplan said in a recent interview. "I'm still in awe. I don't know why I've always wanted to be a star. I would've liked for this to happen 20 or 30 years ago when I was younger, but I'm still young. I'm just so grateful for Matt Saul. If it weren't for him, we wouldn't be here. Everyone we've dealt with along the way has treated us like A-list stars."
“Small Town Security” is executive produced by Ken Druckerman and Banks Tarver from Left/Right Productions. The first season is comprised of eight, thirty minute episodes, the first of which will be aired Sunday, July 15, at 11 p.m. (10 p.m. Central) on AMC, immediately following the season premiere of “Breaking Bad.” “Small Town Security” will also be available On Demand on Comcast and will be repeated during the following week. For a preview, go to amctv.com.
JJK Security, under the pseudo-Hollywood name of "Small Town Security," consists of an eclectic and largely dysfunctional staff, mainly featuring chief Koplan and her four-legged partner "Lambchop," her husband/marketing director Irwin Koplan; Christa Stephens, the secretary; Brian Taylor the private investigator/office manager and Lt. Dennis Croft, operations manager. JJK specializes in security, process serving and private investigation. A sixth member, Neil Miller, died after the DVD was made. Koplan described Miller as another "Redd Foxx" and said he always made her laugh uncontrollably and is very missed.
Aside from the zany Miller, Koplan said the rest of the staff is still very crazy and entertaining. She said it isn't so much about the business as it is about the relationships of the JJK crew. Most of the "magic" is just the camaraderie among the family-like group. Cameramen were stationed in the office and also went along for the ride when Irwin or Croft had to conduct business.
"It's about us and how wacky we are," Koplan said. "It's completely unscripted. Even though we act nutty, it's not put on. It's all real. This room is full of sex talk and vulgarity and farts, but we enjoy it. For instance I'm happily married to Irwin, but he knows I'm attracted to my detective. There are a lot of secrets that are going to come out that will make it very interesting."
Secrets such as Irwin's hoarding habit, Koplan's openly confessed sexual attractions and Christa's penchant for "mooning" Koplan on occasion will be open season for America to see, along with the bickering and pranking that takes place on any typical day. Yet Taylor, who takes Koplan's teasing in stride, said for all the silliness that takes place, there is still a healthy balance.
"I'm flattered a woman like Joan sees me that way, but really it's just like any work environment," Taylor said. "We tease each other. It's all in fun, but when it's time to work, we work. We goof around, we do silly stuff, but when a call comes in, we know the difference between cutting up and getting serious. I think that's how it works. Everyone respects each other and we all pull our weight."
Koplan said she never apologizes for her behavior and the difference between her and most other people is she isn't afraid to admit things out loud.
"I'm 61 years old, but I feel 17," Koplan said. " I don't take drugs. I love to listen to music. I'll blast it and feel like my whole soul has jumped into the song. I could explode. I'm trying to get it across to a lot of women that if they feel 17, and have those feelings, even sexually, then they shouldn't hide it and they should admit it and enjoy it, maybe share it with their friends. I think it'll help a lot of people."
One thing Koplan pointed out was that although she realizes her behavior might be offensive to some, especially the local citizens of Ringgold, she hoped they would realize she wasn't representing them, but herself.
“I just want everybody in Ringgold to know that I'm not representing Ringgold, so if there are some things they hear me say, I don't want them to take it the wrong way," said Koplan, a New York native. "I live here. I've lived here longer than a lot of people, half my life, so I know they're going to judge me. I say some things that have nothing to do with Ringgold. This is just me. However, the way I act has nothing to do with Ringgold, it's just me."
Aside from their secrets being broadcast into the living rooms of everyone in America, the cast said the experience was positive and made them even closer. Irwin said he hoped it would increase the business. All agreed the cameras were intrusive and a little intimidating at first but after awhile it was "business as usual," and the filming blended into the day. AMC allowed the staff to view the first of the eight filmed episodes, which they unanimously deemed a funny success, but they look forward to seeing exactly what will make the cut in the end.
"So far, what I've seen is masterful," Croft said, "because of how much material they had to get and how condensed it is and yet the story is excellent. We still don't really know the subject themes or the content they are going to pull from. We were moving in so many directions, even emotionally, and it was spidering in so many areas. It's going to be riveting, twists and turns, you don't know what to expect."
Croft also said he thought he would be nervous about seeing himself on film, but it wasn't as bad as he anticipated.
"For me, there was a little touch of 'what if,' but then when I sat back and looked at it....it is what it is and that's who I am and that's who all these people are and we're just being who we are, and you can't be sorry for that. If you're afraid of yourself, and can't accept yourself, you're never going to really live.”