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Tallahassee Native Among The "Hunted" On CBS Reality Show


A new CBS-TV reality show series has a Tallahassee connection. One of the fugitives in “Hunted” is a member of a well-known local family.

Even if you don’t know Hilmar Skagfield personally, there’s a good chance you’ve visited his family’s business at some point.

“Tallahassee is my hometown,” Skagfield smiled. “My grandparents Hilmar and Christine Skagfield immigrated here in the 1950s. And then my dad was born here shortly after that and they have a company here called ‘Skandia’ that’s been around for quite a while.”

When he was 18, Skagfield pursued out-of-town studies in the realm of philosophy and fashion.

“I looked at people like MacIntyre Virtue Ethics, Foucault, different ways in which we sculpt the person and how that is done through certain spiritual disciplines.”

Certainly not the typical cast member background a TV reality show might be looking for. But Skagfield said it apparently appealed in the case of CBS’s new show “Hunted”.

“This is a new show; we didn’t even know what it was. Casting reached out to Lee about potentially being on the show. Lee Wilson runs escape rooms and he needed a wingman to get through. And the south is my backyard and also having been on both coasts a couple of times, plus at that time working on metadata and technology, a background in fashion and other different arts, he thought I might be the guy for the job.”

And the show’s producers thought the same thing. In case you don’t know about “Hunted”, this is the show’s first season. In it, 9 teams of 2 people each try to evade capture for 28 days in a 100,000 square mile region of the Southeast. Skagfield said that’s tougher than it may sound.

“You’re going up against people who were in the CIA and the NSA,” he explained. “You’re looking at people who were in the CIO of the White House. You’re going up against people who know how to interrogate your friends and see cracks in your community. So you’re really having to pull off kind of a masterwork of espionage to get through this game.”

So far, Skagfield and his fugitive partner Lee Wison remain uncaught. But that could change in a literal heartbeat.

“You know, when you’re looking at being a fugitive, it you’re trying to limit how many data points are out there, the second those guys get just one, it’s over.”

That’s because, as Skagfield explains, it’s often not the person being hunted who makes the mistake that tips off the hunters.

“That is very common to how law enforcement goes after the bad guys,” he said. “El Chapo got caught because Sean Penn made a little trail in his community. It opened up for Sean Penn and the feds just kept riding that trail all the way in.”

And even though he’s an actual part of the show, Skagfield remains transfixed by the final product as shown on TV.

“It’s been incredible to see how they spliced it together and taken all these hours of footage and seeing how they’ve sculpted these moments into these really thrilling things. I still have stress when I watch these and I’m watching them along with America. I’ve never seen these episodes!”

But beyond the show’s drama and entertainment value, Skagfield thinks seeing just how much of the average American’s life is open to official scrutiny is a matter for serious debate.

“This whole thing is such a needed conversation in America right now. We have to support these people who are doing a phenomenal job. We also have to understand there might be some new limitations that we need to talk about.”

In the meantime, Tallahassee’s Hilmar Skagfield and his partner Lee Wilson will keep on hiding and running in the hopes of staying uncaught and thereby capturing a $250,000 prize.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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