JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Duane "Dog" Chapman and his partner, Beth Smith, took questions at Thursday's screening of the season premiere of "Dog, the Bounty Hunter."
Chapman clan grows comfy with cameras
"Dog the Bounty Hunter"
One-hour season premiere airs at 7 and 11 p.m. today on A&E, repeating at 10 p.m. tomorrow.
"The Hunt Is Back On," stated the publicity posters on display in and around the Deep Blue nightclub at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Thursday. That means it's a new season of "Dog the Bounty Hunter," starting with a one-hour premiere tonight on the A&E cable network.
It's only a few minutes after the star couple -- Duane "Dog" Chapman and his partner, Beth Smith -- has entered the lounge that Smith, the self-proclaimed "mouthpiece of my family," is volunteering the story of how she landed her "ultimate bounty": "Big Daddy," the man of her dreams.
The two will be married on the Big Island May 20 -- an affair that obviously will be incorporated into the popular reality show. Smith says she'll finally seal the deal with her "longtime love, my white knight, my soul mate.
"I first met Dog when he bailed me out of jail back in Colorado," starts this unusual tale of love at first sight.
She was a 19-year-old secretary and had gone with her then-boyfriend to buy lemons for a tequila party that night. The guy, unfortunately, was carrying a gun, so Smith took it from him.
"At the checkout stand, I was arrested for shoplifting when I tried to get around to the other side of the counter to help. And, of course, I had a gun on me, so I also got a concealed-weapon charge."
Enter, the bondsman: "And when Dog came to get me, I see this sleek biker with long blond hair, black leather and Levis. With a big, black Great Dane beside him, I thought he was the sexiest man I ever saw.
"So, then and there, I decided I was going to stalk him. When I began pursuing him, it wasn't easy to see him because of his bounty hunting. So I figured I should get into the bails bond business myself. I would write some bad bonds just to get him into my office.
"It took 16 years but he's my ultimate bounty," Smith says with a triumphant smile. Chapman proposed last year in Las Vegas.
THE COUPLE'S relationship has only been strengthened through their mutual pursuit of criminals, but it's put to the test on the third-season premiere, "California, Here Dog Comes."
Chapman and Smith, with their regular crew -- "Youngblood" Tim Chapman (no relation, who attended the event with his wife, Davina, and young daughter, Summer Rain) and Chapman's sons Leland and Duane II -- are on the hunt again. This time, they fly to San Francisco to try to capture the fugitive Samu Savea, a k a Sam Iosia.
Sequestered at a private table, Chapman and Smith could be heard occasionally whoopin' and a-hollerin' as the episode covering the intense and focused chase aired on high-definition televisions throughout the club.
"Bounty hunting has become easier," Chapman said at a post-screening Q&A, "because our reputation has skyrocketed because of the show's popularity."
"Our personal life, meanwhile, has plummeted," chimed in Smith.
Even though Chapman's exploits have brought A&E its largest audience over the past two seasons, the couple was awestruck during a promotional trip to the Big Apple, seeing Dog's stern visage on the giant billboard in Times Square and the Jumbotron at the Port Authority.
"I've found out that when we talk, people listen," Chapman said. "Because of my background, I can say that I am a criminal-justice expert. Thanks to the show, people in the community are taking back their lives. I've had upward of 60, 70 children in Waianae coming out of their houses when they see me in their neighborhood, pointing out the drug dealers."
But back to the business at hand.
Chapman said that "this third season of shows, we're used to the cameras now so we're more relaxed, so I think these shows will be a lot better than the first two seasons."