'Lone Target' Takes Toll on Crew, Says Joel Lambert

By Stacy Jenel Smith

January 16, 2014 5 min read

Fans of the Discovery Channel's midseason hit "Lone Target" are well aware that the title star, former Navy SEAL Joel Lambert, is up against some seemingly insurmountable challenges in the war game-esque reality show. Lambert lets us know that his production team has it just as rough. At least.

"It's been brutal on the crew," he says. "We've had massive injuries, significant injuries. We had one producer get stabbed in the neck by a flying fish and he almost died."

A flying fish?

"I know — this is the most unbelievable story I've ever heard," responds the handsome and personable veteran of 10 years of special ops duty. According to him, part of the fish was embedded in the producer's neck and had to be pulled all the way through, instead of out the way it came in, due to barbs on its body. "It was a centimeter away from his spinal cord and a centimeter and a half away from his carotid artery," says Lambert.

And if you find that hard to imagine — no worries! "It will be in our behind-the-scenes episode," Lambert promises.

But that was just one example of bad things happening on the "Lone Target" locations. "Some other producers and camera guys got attacked by killer bees and we had cases of anaphylactic shock," he reports. "We had to stop production for awhile for a medical emergency."

A producer had to be hospitalized in the Philippines. There were cases of Dengue Fever. "One of the camera guys got his shoulder torn — his rotator cuff detached from the bone," says Lambert. "That was $100,000 worth of surgery. He's recovering now."

Oddly enough, they haven't had too much trouble signing people up to work on the elaborate survival program that calls upon Lambert to use his vast array of skills as a tracker and expert at evasion in order to escape capture. The show has been sold to 240 countries under the title "Manhunt," and is rolling out internationally Feb. 1. Lambert's going out on an international promotional trek.

"I'm worried about getting soft. You get soft very fast," he says, not completely kidding. "I'll go to these luxurious hotels and sleep on the floor."

Lambert was initially approached about the project by someone who knew him through Veterans in Film and Television, a group of vets working in the industry. Because of his unusual mix of areas of expertise, including tracking, Lambert happened to fit the profile wanted for "Lone Target." He became much more interested when he found out that a former Army Green Beret was among the show's creative team, "someone who knew what he was talking about instead of people imagining it."

He says he further tested the idea talking with friends in special ops before taking it on. For Lambert, it is "a sacred trust" to portray his brothers in special ops in the right way. He's bothered "that trust has been compromised lately by certain books and such. I really want to show to the world who we really are at our best, that brotherhood is more important than the individual," he says.

Lately, "I've gotten a few calls and have heard from a few of my friends at the very highest levels of special forces, some admirals, who are enjoying the show. Most if not all the reaction I've had from my brothers has been very positive." And that, he says, is far more important to him than critical reviews or ratings. "My brothers all that matters."

Lambert does admit that one of his biggest challenges in making "Lone Target" has been getting himself to forget the camera crew — that poor, beleaguered camera crew — is there. In fact, he says with a laugh, "The most difficult thing for me to overcome in the show is when the camera guy forgets he's there — and tromps around as I'm going through an area, making very delicate footsteps, and trying not to leave any trace. Or when we stop to take a break, and he's dumping his backpack and going 'Oh, man!'"

"They should get hazard pay," Lambert adds. "They are massive studs."

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