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Photos courtesy Ron Ransom and We-TV

Ron Ransom doing a green-screen segment for his episodes on "Sunset Daze." After four episodes, We-TV announced it would be giving the Sun City Grand-based reality show "a new launching pad" later this summer.

The cast of "Sunset Daze." Since its April 28th premiere episode, the show strived to paint the northwest Valley retirement Mecca as a kind of Jersey Shore of the geriatric set.

Ransom being filmed in his back yard, grilling his trademark BBQ ribs.

Ransom, an avid golfer, is current president of the Desert Mashie Golf Club, a Phoenix group founded in 1946 by ten black golfers and whose youth program included Tiger Woods' niece and former Phoenix resident, Cheyenne Woods.

Ransom hopes to use his TV exposure to help raise money for the Clearview Legacy Foundation, a charity to restore the Clearview Golf Club in Canton, Ohio – the first golf course in America designed, built and owned by an African-American, the late William Powell (left).

We-TV's website includes an interactive game called "Bling My Cart," where viewers can customize the golf cart of their favorite "Sunset Daze" character.

Published by Lovin' Life, July 2010

Man walks into a bar in Sun City Grand and starts talking with a woman about a mound of cocaine she found the other day, wrapped up in a dollar bill and dropped on the floor of the retirement community’s recreational center.

“The police analyzed it for over three hours,” says Mitzi Mills, the community’s HOA director, to Ron Ransom, perched on his usual stool at the Kokopelli Winery & Bistro. “It was in a really pure form — almost like plaster. They said it was 90% pure, and worth probably $900. Yeah, it was good stuff!”

It’s too bad the producers of Sunset Daze, the WE-TV reality series on swingin’ seniors in the SCG, have wrapped up filming here for the season. The sound bites from Mills’ and Ransom’s conversation alone would make for tantalizing TV.

“When I opened up the dollar, the white stuff went everywhere,” the ebullient Mills exclaims. “At first I was ticked off because I was wearing black! I figured the guy from the pool cleaners must have had something in his pocket and had dropped it. But then people started saying to me, ‘You better call the cops. That ain’t chlorine!’”

Ransom laughs, as Mills gets ready to leave. “Don’t slip on that floor on the way out, girl!” he jokes. “It’s gettin’ slippery around here!”

The sight of the residents yucking it up over a wad of coke found so close to their shuffle-ball court would fit right in with the titillating theme of the show, which, since its April 28th premiere episode, has strived to paint the northwest Valley retirement Mecca as a kind of Jersey Shore of the geriatric set. In its first four episodes, Sunset Daze has focused on the hot tub escapades of a 72-year-old playboy (“Get the Viagra, Mosin!” he commands his Shih-Tzu upon lining up a new date), a couple of 60-plus women learning how to pole dance, and one of them, a tattooed, double Pinot Grigio-guzzling widow named Sandy, talking about her BOB — or “battery-operated boyfriend.”

“That’s not the way everybody is out here, of course,” says Ransom, 68, the sole African-American in the cast of nine and one of the six on the show who are married. “But we’re also not all sitting around here waiting on the grim reaper!”

Like the suspicious powder found on the rec room floor, surprising things do happen in Sun City, Ransom admits. But speaking from his own experiences during the filming, Ransom suspects some of the juicier dialogue and situations on Sunset Daze were suggested by the show’s youthful producers.

“A lot of it was these young producers instilling their words into the mouths of these supposively responsible older adults. I had to say ‘no’ to a lot of stuff.”

Perhaps he should have been more agreeable. Ransom himself has so far not appeared in the series, which was shot over 13 weeks around Surprise, Peoria and Sun City West but interestingly not Sun City Grand itself (the unincorporated town’s council would approve filming only inside the cast members’ homes). Teasers for the fifth episode showed Ron and his wife, Kay, featured prominently in the show, but that episode was mysteriously yanked from its original airdate, and two days later, the network announced it would be giving Sunset Daze “a new launching pad” later this summer, “after the clutter of the broadcast sweeps period concludes.”

Roughly 311,000 people tuned in for the premiere episode, hyped in prime publications from USA Today to the New York Times as a refreshingly against-type depiction of senior life. But the audience dropped by 40,000 viewers for the second episode, and it appears the novelty of watching over-60 singles cavorting in hot tubs may have already worn thin.

That’s bad news for Ransom, who’s been counting on his exposure in Sunset Daze to launch his own fourth or fifth act in what has already been an eventful life.

A former car salesman, restaurant owner and entertainment promoter from Columbus, Ohio, who moved to Sun City Grand four years ago, Ransom is hoping to parlay his reality show fame into publicity for two current causes. For starters, he’d like to throw a little love to the uptown Phoenix R&B supper club, Doc’s Place, owned by his new friend, Doc Jones. Moreover, he’d like to help raise money for the Clearview Legacy Foundation, a charity to restore the Clearview Golf Club in Canton, Ohio — the first golf course in America designed, built and owned by an African-American, the late William Powell.

“Here’s a man who put 93 years of blood, sweat and tears into building that golf course,” says Ransom, himself an avid golfer and current president of the Desert Mashie Golf Club, a Phoenix group founded in 1946 by ten black golfers and whose youth program included Tiger Woods’ niece and former Phoenix resident, Cheyenne Woods. “His daughter, Renee Powell, was the second African-American woman ever to play on the LPGA Tour. Why wouldn’t you want to help preserve that golf course?”

Raised in segregated Bryan, Texas, Ransom also has some surprisingly positive things to say about race relations in Arizona — in particular, Sun City Grand, where “people don’t have time for discrimination” — which the Sunset Daze camera crew captured him dispensing to a group of middle school kids at a recent “Career Concepts for Youth” program in Phoenix aimed at African-American students.

“I let them know adversity is energy,” Ransom says. “I reached about 30 kids that day. But when the show airs, I’m hoping to reach 30 million!”

Fueled by the success of the fan-driven Betty White Facebook campaign, which surprisingly landed the 88-year-old star a hosting gig on Saturday Night Live, Ransom recently started his own Facebook page and is hoping his exposure on Sunset Daze drives viewers to find out more about his personal causes.

Alas, Ransom may have to wait out the summer for his 15 minutes of fame.

“All they have to do is show me in one scene,” he says, confidently. “All I need is one shot. And then, once people start looking for me, this thing is on!

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