VH1 News Presents: Reality Secrets Revealedby Jamie Goralski -- 01/06/2004
The show begins with a hurried montage of various scandalous clips from various shows. This clever editing move is employed throughout the entire hour so get used to it. Not only are my remote’s pause and rewind buttons are now conspiring to quit but my attention span has been permanently lessened to about .8 seconds. Thank you, VH-1. If this reads as choppy, I’m sorry. It was a very fast-paced show and they got a lot of interviews and footage crammed into an hour and there is no way to do that and maintain a soothing flow.
Trishelle Cannatella, Real World: Las Vegas, provides the opening quote: “I knew we were being filmed but at the time I didn’t think about it.” I guess this proves once and for all that you don’t have to be conscious to get through the Bunim and Murray screening process, as long as you’re beautiful.
I can’t share all of the various clips with you unless you want this recap to be 800 pages long, but can I just say this? Teck jumping naked into the pool first episode of Real World: Hawaii is something I can live the rest of my life without ever seeing again. Happily.
The narrator informs us that this special will alert us to the fakes, the frauds, and the outright lies of reality TV. Reshoots, creative editing, and what the stars deal with when the cameras finally stop rolling. Everyone on the edge of your seat? Good.
Irene McGee, Real World: Seattle, says she was psychologically traumatized after the show was over. Wasn’t she psychologically traumatized by her season? We are then told that reality TV is a “festering boil on the ass of humanity.” That is some sexy imagery!
Finally here are the opening credits and on with the show…
January 27, 2003, the producers of Joe Millionaire led us to believe Evan Marriott and Sarah Kozer were doing the dirty in the bushes. She is furious as she says it never happened.
Matthew Felling, Center For Media and Publicity Affairs, says that, “Reality television is like reality the same way that professional wrestling is like wrestling. It’s not quite the real thing but it really draws a crowd.”
So do train wrecks.
Speaking of train wrecks there is a clip tossed in here showing Heidi Strobel, Survivor: The Amazon, getting naked for peanut butter and chocolate. Can that be placed in the vault along with pixilated Teck and never shown again? I’d appreciate it.
Toni Ferarri, who was a cast member of both Love Cruise and Paradise Hotel, feels played by both the producers and writers but concedes it is what she signed on for. For the seven 12-year-olds out there who still believe The Real World is an accurate depiction of real life, we are told that it, in fact, is not. Danny Roberts, Real World: New Orleans, talks about the false circumstances in that in the actual real world no one gives you a job and you don’t get to live rent free. And most of us don’t live in a TV studio. Irene McGee tells us it’s like living on your high school stage. Trishelle informs us that they even had microphones in the headboards. Toni says that there were approximately 1500 surveillance cameras on Paradise Hotel and mics everywhere. You know those necklaces they were forced to wear to signify their coupledom? They weren’t just ugly jewelry, they were ugly sound equipment as they were mics also.
Ben Pappas, US Weekly, tells us for every Survivor challenge where we see only the contestants and Jeff Probst, there are hundreds of crew members just off camera.
Ever wonder about those private confessionals used on so many shows? Those aren’t just therapeutic avenues for extemporaneous venting. They are interviews with the directors. They show a very funny and very unflattering clip here of Toni completely enraged. She is one scary girl. I was watching in the safety of my bedroom and actually flinched from her harangue. Both Irene McGee and Amaya Brecher, Real World: Hawaii, confirm that the staff stirs up trouble by passing along gossip and trying to get fights started amongst the cast.
I love Amaya. I almost didn’t recognize her as she is no longer blonde, but she looks great. I have always thought she got a really raw deal with how she was treated during her season and I’m glad they got her for this show. It’s nice to see she has it all in perspective.
Back to the interviews posing as confessionals. Mike “Boogie” Malin from Big Brother 2 and Gideon Horowitz from The Restaurant concur that the staff, when not trying to fuel the fighting, attempt to plant the seeds of romance by mentioning specific women to them in flattering ways.
Ever wonder how they manage to capture everything interesting on tape? Some don’t, not the first time out anyway. When Gideon had a slip and fall which resulted in a broken arm, they missed it. So they had him fall again and reshot it. The fall we actually saw was staged after the fact and was actually the worst composite of footage from several takes. Mark Burnett, the evil genius behind Survivor, admits to staging minor reenactments such as body doubles used for aerial shots. Well, the narrator says he admits that as he didn’t appear on this show. I say this in the interest of clarity and also to avoid any unnecessary litigation. Other shows say they would never do that. Matt Kunitz, former Real World producer and currently the executive producer for Fear Factor, says, “If we didn’t shoot it, it didn’t happen.” He goes on to say that editing is a tool they use to help tell the story. “You might call it manipulation, but it’s a tool.” A manipulative tool? Gee, you never see any of those on reality TV. Ahem.
Next we see some Big Brother 2 footage which is real, telling a story which is not. Mike Malin tells us that we see Will and Kent conspiring about his eviction and it appears that Christa is nearby overhearing this, but she was not. The footage of her was taken another day and pasted in. Mike has no problem with it.
Critics feel that Americans know that these shows aren’t real and don’t care. That none of this is about being real and rather it is about being interesting.
April of 2003 Married By America, we see footage of Jill Nicolini and Kevin Gallagher’s non-wedding. Jill tells us that while it appeared that she dumped Kevin at the altar, that was merely editing. In fact he said no, also. Well, now we can all sleep nights knowing Jill is busy repairing her image.
Back to Sarah and Evan from Joe Millionaire… they play a clip of them kissing and she says it was a short kiss that they cut and repasted several times to make it look longer. She tells us even her mom pointed out how her hand kept moving to his shoulder over and over. Back to those two crazy kids in the bushes, because we can never see that often enough… the producers got creative as it was real video but the audio was added in later in the editing studio. The slurps and moans were from earlier in the day when her friend Melissa was giving her a back massage. She said that she and Evan were innocently kissing and the editing was, “beyond what is conscionable.” I agree, that really goes beyond editing to flesh out a story and just plain making stuff up.
But where does slurping happen during a platonic back massage? Never mind…
The spokesman for Rocket Science Laboratories declined comment. They are the fine folks who gave us not only Joe Millionaire but also Temptation Island and Married By America. Their parents must be so proud of the contributions they have made to society.
As we head off into the first commercial break we’re told that the legacy of Joe Millionaire is “the slurp heard ’round the world.”
I don’t make a habit of commenting on commercials but I have to put a question to the fates, the powers that be, whomever. Isn’t Justin Timberlake’s fifteen minutes up yet?
Okay we’re back. Reality television is trying to create something more interesting than real life. I think it would be a good drinking game if everyone did a shot each time they made that point in a slightly different way. We’d all be drunk by now. Gervase Peterson, Survivor 1, informs us that in shows of this ilk casting is key. Mikey Glazer, a producer on Fear Factor, says that he wants to make shows people will be talking about around the water cooler the next day. Shows in which there are people you love to hate and “you’re gonna sit and go, ‘That di*k!”” I am too big a coward to watch Fear Factor but this guy is cool… he has more on screen presence than most.
Jason Gay from GQ magazine states that they are looking for compelling, good looking people, heroes, villains, and those who create drama. Ben Pappas, US Weekly, compares and contrasts the first two seasons of Big Brother. Same house, same scenario, wildly different casts which explains why season two succeeded where the first failed. Mike “Boogie” Malin was one of the keys to the success of season two. We get to see part of his audition tape in which he does a freestyle rap: “Five girls in the house, Oh man I’ll entertain the entire nation. And what else? How about 12 cameras and my affinity for masturbation.”
That’s the sound of a million teenage boys snickering.
He said he created a character so he would be chosen. Various audition videos are spliced together and run at a frenzied pace across the screen and since I was embarrassed for these people (clearly they have no internal shame so they need someone to blush for them) I’m glad it’s over. More than one person thought being completely naked with their ‘tender parts’ (copyright Kathy Griffin) covered with shaving cream would be avant guard. Apparently it’s commonplace now. Who knew?
Every year thousands of people flock to the casting calls of various reality shows in search of their fifteen minutes of fame. That was the show’s phrasing, not mine, so it begs the question… did Andy Warhol really promise everyone those fifteen minutes? What was he thinking?
Oh good, Mikey Glazer is back. We see footage of him in Vegas screening applicants for Fear Factor. He is asking for a fifteen-second pitch from each of the wannabe stars. One woman could only do nine seconds and he tells her if she can’t even handle the fifteen seconds she can’t fill an hour. Coming from someone else that would sound mean but he was charming. I’m all warm and fuzzy witnessing his people skills. He is looking for archetypal personality traits: Outgoing, enthusiastic, charismatic, somewhat attractive, and articulate. The life of the party types. He draws the analogy to the remote control, how people flip it so quickly between channels so he flips the remote in his head when he’s meeting people and he knows within five seconds if someone is right or wrong for the show. That about three seconds longer than I give people to make a first impression before I judge them, so that’s quite fair, actually.
The real secret to impressing reality show producers is tears. People willing to bare their souls if not their bodies for millions of viewers. They are also looking for cast members that people can instantly relate to and for some inexplicable reason this was voiced over a shot of Kaia and Teck, Real World: Hawaii. That is sarcasm from the editing booth and made me laugh out loud. You’d be hard pressed to find two people less relatable to most humans. Most sea monkeys would feel superior to those two, and rightly so. So we are told the casts aren’t chosen as people but as stereotypes and there is a shot of Road Rules: SAS Veronica, which proves that the editor has a wicked sense of humor. The stereotypes they are looking for are: nerdy guy, cool guy, the jerk, the gay guy, the black guy, the hot girl, the bitch (shot of Flora, Real World: Miami… well, if the stereotype fits), and the slut.
Topher Goodman, The Restaurant, feels he was cast to be the wacky gay guy. I was just called a wacky heterosexual today. Seriously. What are the odds?
Matthew Felling said the show that took the fake reality to another level was High School Reunion. That WB show cast was labeled, literally, so you didn’t have to bother to assign your own stereotypes. Artie Shaw was an applicant for that show and says they had the story arc set up before it was even cast. They wanted to cast him as the nerd and it didn’t matter that real life didn’t bear that out. He was also a varsity athlete, had a lot of friends, was very social, and didn’t want to be narrowly defined by the term nerd. High School Reunion led the viewer to believe it was an actual reunion of the class of 1992. But Holly, the shy girl, was from the class of 1993 and the homecoming queen graduated in 1991. Some call it a random sampling and others flat out lying. Tim Gittings, the artist, was actually a member of the class of 1992 and feels that there is nothing wrong with bending it a little to help the story.
Then there is a flash over to Puck, Real World: San Francisco. Was that a quiet nod to those of us who think his storyline was helped along with some bending or was it an incongruous shot that meant nothing? Draw your own conclusions.
The story is everything. Some shows have dozens of story editors on the payroll. When Zora Andrich needed help in the final scenes of Joe Millionaire, there was always a staffer to feed her a clever quip. They told her to put it in her own words and they would fix it up for her.
Well, I could be charming all day long, too, if I had a team of writers feeding me lines. Of all the secrets that are not really secrets being revealed tonight, this was the only one that surprised me. I take editing with several grains of salt but I was surprised they were actually writing material for her.
Matt Kunitz says that production never wrote the story beforehand, they were writing the story afterhand. I like made-up words, well, I like this one.
Joan Meyerson, Writers Guild of America says, and I quote, “They’re watching tons and tons of footage and out of this footage they are coming up with the story. That’s writing. It may not be actually putting word on paper but it’s coming up with a story and structure and that’s definitely writing.” Goodness knows I don’t want to irritate anyone representing the Writer’s Guild of America, but … what?? I always thought words were an intrinsic part of the writing process and if they officially aren’t I need to know so I can sue my college. I distinctly remember being told that writing involved words.
A lot of time is now spent showing Ruthie Alcaide, Real World: Hawaii, on her trip to the hospital for alcohol poisoning, drinking, and in various states of drunkenness setting up her interview where she states the obvious. Ruthie says that her storyline was “alcoholic” and the only time she saw herself on TV was with a drink in her hand. Amaya Brecher says they focused so much on Ruthie’s drinking that they didn’t show what a great person she was. I beg to differ. I think Ruthie came off very well in editing, one of the saner and most likable cast members, after she came back to the house from rehab.
Jerri Manthey, Survivor: The Outback/The Surreal Life says that the episode where she took on rice duty, on Survivor defined her. Everyone decided after that that she was a bitch. [Editor’s Note: I find this claim to be incredibly ironic, considering that after the show was over she posed in Playboy and talked about being a bitch!] Gervase Peterson says he wasn’t nearly as lazy as he was edited. Amaya says the lesson they all learned is that they were not people to the powers that be, they were footage.
The most prized footage of all is an emotional breakdown. They show clips of David, Real World: Seattle, in his angst over his relationship he had with a casting staffer on his season. Caroline Locatelli, The Restaurant, claims they decided she was the emotional one – the one who could be counted on to scream, yell, curse, and cry. Amaya says that every time she cried in the house it made it to air.
The savviest characters know how to keep themselves in the spotlight, once cast, and will create their own storylines. Mike Malin and Will Kirby, Big Brother 2, decided together that Will would hook up with the hottest chick in the house and Mike would get with the fun and crazy girl from Louisiana. There is a meta-awareness of knowing who you have to be in order to succeed on these shows. Jerri says that now people go on with a preconceived plan to be the villain (Jon Dalton, anyone?). “Maybe that’s good for reality TV, but is it real?” To answer her rhetorical question, yes. There are plenty of people who live out their real lives as cartoons as well, sad to say.
Jason Gay, GQ magazine, compares the earliest seasons of The Real World to later ones and states that in the beginning they didn’t know what they were doing or what to expect and now they know how to make themselves the star of their season. Tami Andersen, Real World: Los Angeles, tells us that now everyone is trying to top the season before them in outrageousness.
Ahhh… Real World: LA. Why couldn’t they find Jon Brennan to opine for this special? That would have just made my day. Or Julie or Heather from season one? Oh well… can’t have everything.
Or apparently anything. Another shot of Teck jumping naked into the pool and not only do they show it but they stutter the film so they show him several times. What did I ever do to you people?
Gideon Horowitz, The Restaurant, knew he would get airtime when he said “f*ck you” to a customer. Toni Ferrari knew she had to create something to do to get airtime and she did, she claims everyone else did also. She talks a little about how she went from one reality show to another. Apparently she played the bitch so well on Love Cruise she was to recreate the same part on Paradise Hotel. She knew what they wanted and why they hired her. On Paradise Hotel someone told her it would be a shame to lose her without getting “that great Toni moment” so she obliged. I remember how she ripped into Dave, and if she was hired to be a bitch it was brilliant casting. She owes him an apology as she was just mean. And scary. Did I mention she’s scary? Whenever they show her yelling I mute my TV.
Where were we? Oh yeah, editing. All the manipulation in the world can’t create characters out of nothing and they work with what you put out there. I remember Heather B. saying the exact same thing on a Real World reunion from a hundred years ago, hosted by Allison Stewart. That was when Tami was complaining she was edited as the bitch and Heather said they only use what you give them. Gosh, recycled Heather B. wisdom making me all misty over here. To illustrate the point of how “if you don’t do it they can’t use it against you so don’t act like a big baby after the fact,” they show the clip of Sarah Becker trying to shove Flora through the bathroom window to spy on Mike, Melissa, and Heather back in the Miami season of the Real World. The only genuinely funny moment that entire season only missing Dan Renzi musing about his violated shower. That’s a keeper.
Chris Harrison, host of The Bachelor, clues us in to the fact that the reality is people makes asses out of themselves. They state the obvious that if you’re a bitch you’ll be a bitch on TV and this was spoken over a shot of Jerri Manthey, and if you’re a good person you’ll be one on TV which was complimented by lovely shots of Trista Rehn. Get it? Jerri is a bitch and Trista is a good person. Just wanted to point it out in case it was too subtle. Mike Malin says he was indeed edited accurately, and this was accompanied by shots of him shaking his naked bottom in a disturbingly rhythmic fashion. I laughed. I’m 12, apparently.
Trishelle Cannatella interviews that when the season was over she was asked, by a producer, to list her three favorite moments in the house and her three worst moments in the house. She was told the favorite moments would probably not make it to air but the worst most definitely would.
Shows like American Idol have far more losers than they have winners. Brian Dunkleman, co-host of American Idol 1, says people don’t tune in to see who wins as much as to see who will be voted out that night. Gloria Alred, famed attorney, chimes in that she calls these types of shows “humilitainment” and explains that means “humiliating entertainment.” Good thing she explains that, without the exposition the sheer obviousness of it might not have slapped me in the face. Before filming begins on these shows, the hopefuls sign contracts agreeing to be humiliated. Brian Dunkleman was startled when one kid, ripped by Simon, came off stage and he tried to cushion the blow by telling the guy that at least Paula liked him. They yelled cut and he was chastised for not mentioning what Simon said. Brian recounts a conversation with the producer: “Let me get this straight. If these kids come back here feeling like sh*t, I’m supposed to continue to make them feel like sh*t? And his answer was you’re Godd**n f**king right.”
Irene McGee feels she was manipulated into fighting with castmate Steven. This is accompanied by footage of them going at it in various verbal ripostes... ending in the infamous slap. She doesn’t understand why the cameramen kept filming when she was slapped. She doesn’t know many normal young men who would allow her to be stricken without intervening. I see her point in a way, but he slapped her then shut the car door and walked away. It isn’t as if there was an ongoing assault and they did nothing. By the time anyone could have intervened it was over, so is she upset they didn’t go after him and exact revenge for her? I don’t know, I’d be hurt if someone watched someone slap me and did nothing, so I do see her point. I also see the point of the men who did nothing as it’s their job to document this and not intervene. Matt Kunitz says that she signed on to be on television and show the good, bad, and the ugly and the ugly was part of her storyline.
Hidden camera shows humiliate now, ask questions (and permission) later. Phillip Zelnick didn’t sign up for any reality show, so he has no personal culpability for what happened to him at the hands of Candid Camera. He was traveling through an Arizona airport and went through what he thought was a security checkpoint. He was told to get on the conveyor belt himself and pass through the x-ray machine lying down. He laughed and asked where the candid camera was, and was told by Peter Lunt (host of the show) that joking about security in an airport won’t be tolerated and at that point Phillip took this seriously. He went through the machine lying prone, face down, twice – the second time injured his leg. That was when he was let in on the joke. He says his leg has healed but the shame continues. This was the first time the footage was aired as he didn’t sign the release. Not only did he not sign the release but he sued Pax, the show’s producers, and the airport and received $300,000 in punitive damages. Good for him. I like reality shows as much as the next person, goofing on people so doggedly courting fame can be high entertainment when done well… but this guy was just traveling through an airport living his life, minding his own business, and was ambushed by a bad joke. If the people over at Candid Camera read this, why don’t you leave this kinda thing to Tom Green reruns and just sit down?
The Sci-Fi Network camera-ambush show Scare Tactics went looking for a victim who would not only believe they were being attacked by aliens but then chill out afterwards and sign the release. How many people like that can there be out there? What they found was Kara Blanc, who sued them because she genuinely believed her life was in danger and after the stunt had to be hospitalized for severe emotional distress. Travis Draft, Scare Tactics, who first found his calling annoying people back in the mid-‘90s during his days with MTV’s Buzzkill, feels that what he’s doing is “punk rock theatre.” He is bringing theatre to the marks without a stage. I think there is a reason theatres have stages. So if you want to see a dinner theatre production starring Burt Reynolds and Jamie Farr you can go enjoy their fine acting over some steak and crab legs and they don’t come to your house as you’re reheating lasagna in your pajamas and run lines from A Streetcar Named Desire.
Gloria Alred checks in about how these shows victimize people and it’s Russian roulette for emotions. Totally unrelated trivia, but she is the mother of Court TV’s Lisa Bloom and Lisa is fabulous. I know, apropos of nothing, just thought I would share.
For those of you scoffing at the aforementioned lawsuits, thinking the victims should just suck it up, get a sense of humor, and deal, this is a reminder that they aren’t all trivial or based on principal alone. Darin Goka was a contestant on Dog Eat Dog and during a stunt where they had to remain underwater, the mechanism that was to catapult him out of the water failed. NBC won’t honor his request for the raw footage so to this day he has no idea of how long he was deprived of oxygen. His lawyer, Artmen Tashjian, and his girlfriend, Gloria Giacomoni, speak about how he is still physically devastated. The stunt was performed in August of 2002 and over a year later he is still not recovered. He suffers from memory impairment, a decline in intellectual abilities, and severe levels of depressive symptoms. His girlfriend says he used to be so happy and has never been the same since. NBC calls the lawsuit without merit. There was a clause in the contract that all contestants sign waiving the right to hold the network responsible for any injury, including death.
Critics of reality TV claim it panders to the very worst in human nature, the sadistic desire to see others suffering and humiliated. Defenders say it is merely wanting to live vicariously through others from the safety of their homes. Gloria Giacomoni says maybe it will take a death before producers wake up and change is affected. Her pain is palpable and I really hope it never comes to that. Jason Gay points out that the networks are constantly striving to outdo each other and keep pushing the bar. Travis Draft says he won’t stop what he’s doing and will, indeed, continue to take it further. Brian Dunkleman sarcastically jokes about pitching a show to MTV called “Dunked,” not Punk’d, but Dunked where he will just walk up to random men and kick them in the… well to be more delicate than he was, the front of their pants. Sounds stupid in print but he’s actually funny. I wonder if that’s the reason he didn’t host subsequent seasons. An excess of personality for the job, perhaps?
People have always loved game shows for bringing money, love, and adventure to the general public, and reality has just upped the ante. Prof. Robert Thompson, pop culture expert, Syracuse University, says that everyone is dying to hear what other people say during private moments. Will we hear some magic words or something even stupider than what we come up with? Apparently, along with the money and exposure, some people actually have hopes of finding love. Toni Ferarri says that she was just out of a relationship and wanted to meet someone. Jill Nicolini says that she was 25 at the time, had been looking for the right guy without success for years, and thought she would give it a shot. So, is she saying she actually went on Married By America in hopes of finding a husband? Really? Wow, if that’s even a little true that’s so sad and I feel bad for mocking her. That was a lie, I don’t feel bad at all. Some people have a more realistic view of the process, though, as shown by Sarah Kozer. She never thought for a minute that Evan was there to meet a girlfriend. According to her you can’t spend five minutes with him without knowing if he wasn’t at the chalet he would be at Hooters. I like her, she is a real truth screamer.
Matthew Felling lists the best places to meet someone if you’re single… the grocery store, public transportation, walking down the street – but not national television. Jason Gay states the obvious that while these shows can be addicting to the audience it is the silliest idea to think that you could find love or marriage via this process. Chris Harrison says that what heightens emotional climate of the participants is the isolation. They aren’t allowed contact with family, friends, or even allowed to read a newspaper so they become obsessed with the pre-selected object of their affections. Jill Nicolini feels that every day she and Kevin spent together was like a week since you are together 24/7. I’m thinking every day with her probably felt more like a decade to Kevin. Just a guess. Toni Ferrari says that since you have nothing to do but talk, it speeds up the relationship. Back to Jill, she goes on to say, “It was a little uncomfortable to meet someone and all of a sudden they are your fiancé. You get (something inaudible that sounded like swepenawtaway) and you know nothing about the person.” Couple of things… one, to most people, wearing pinchy shoes is “a little uncomfortable” and meeting someone America voted to become your fiancé is more in the realm of “a little insane.” I get the feeling Jill’s worldview is a quite different than that of the rest of us. Oh, and someone looking for a career in front of the camera might want to work on their enunciation. Just trying to help. Back to the show… Jill says she and Kevin actually liked each other and continued dating after the show but knew quickly he wasn’t her type as she’s 100% committed to her career and he didn’t have a job. It wasn’t a good match. Who knew? Except everyone who lost hours from their lives watching that show?
Barbara DeAngelis, human relations expert, says that women find most of the men on these shows laughable. Sarah Kozer is back to say that after dates with Evan the girls would mock him and the things he would say. Not all the guys on these shows are particularly good catches. Rob Campos, For Love Or Money, prior to the show had been kicked out of the Marine Corps’ JAG Unit for drunkenly groping a female officer. And who can forget Rick Rockwell, Who Wants To Marry A Multimillionaire?, granddaddy of “romance” reality. Ben Pappas reminds us that he had previous relationships that resulted in restraining orders being issued against him, making him a less than desirable candidate for marriage.
People are tuning in to see quick hook-ups and/or painful break-ups. Will Bohlen, TV columnist, brings us back to the nightmare that was the Billie Jeane/Tony finale to Married By America. He called it the most gut wrenching break-up of the year and that it was “a good pay-off for watching this crappy show.” I don’t know. I recapped that crappy show, and I didn’t enjoy the good pay-off. I just felt dirty after watching that. Matt Kunitz feels that emotion helps reality TV, either love or tears. Chris Harrison thinks people love to watch other people be pathetic. I don’t think he’s wrong. He says that on the latest edition of The Bachelor they selected women who had already seen Bob Guiney get rejected by Trista Rehn on The Bachelorette and all the women fell so in love with him so quickly. It was hard, in this instance, not to have too much drama. The women may not have been that emotional in their day-to-day lives but the situation brought it out.
Since it is more than a crying game, Ben Pappas points out that there is a lot of pressure to keep upping the ante with sizzle and skin. Matt Felling says that from the first slurping the genre is heading to straight reality porn. Poor Sarah, as we learned earlier that wasn’t even actual slurping. There is nothing more damaging to a girl’s reputation than a disingenuous slurp, I always say. Zora Andrich says that she and Evan were both pressured to dial it up. He was told to kiss her on that date and it was strongly suggested to her that she kiss him in return.
Hey, did you know that the first day in Vegas those crazy Real World kids were having sex in the hot tub? I know I’m shocked. Trishelle says that every person in that house had a lot of sex in Vegas. I hope that’s true or she could get some serious fallout at MTV challenges for flinging a little dirt just so she doesn’t look so bad. Jason Gay reminds us of the first season of the Real World, when the cast actually looked like real people and were imperfect and relatable. Yet everyone on the Vegas cast looks like they belonged in a strip club. They aren’t looking for fat shlubs but rather beautiful people. I don’t know, maybe in Vegas they were particularly pretty but not every Real World alum will be heading to The Ford Modeling Agency when their run is over.
On to another big shocking secret that shocks no one. Alcohol is flowing freely on these shows. Did you know drinking makes one less inhibited and more likely to have sex with strangers, be belligerent, or engage in other inappropriate behavior? I now know this since they told me so. Trishelle again knew the cameras were filming her but didn’t think about it, then when she sobered up she called her daddy and sister and anyone else who might be ashamed of her behavior to confess before the airtime. I want to say here – I love to mock Trishelle, she does make it so easy, but I have some sympathy for her. There are a lot of us whose behavior at her age would have shocked and shamed our families had they known at the time. Most of us didn’t have a camera crew following us so innocence was easier to project with a straight face.
Another non-surprise is that when people sober up and the cameras go away, many of these relationships crash and burn. It may feel like love due to the rush of the unusual situation but it isn’t the basis for a deep and long lasting relationship. Jill Nicolini tells us her relationship with Kevin crumbled within a week or two, and Erin Brody, For Love Or Money, says that that is just like real life. Most relationships fail. The exception seems to be, according to the producers of this show anyway, Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter. Theirs is a true connection of the heart. They do point out, however, that they have yet to leave the fantasy world. They were given a million dollars to have their wedding on TV and the producers had ultimate control over every aspect of the event. They may not know what love is until the honeymoon, if that doesn’t become a series. I submit that may not know what love is until a couple years, and a couple kids, later when they are fighting over a pile of laundry that he passive-aggressively refuses to put in the hamper and …
I’ll keep my own issues out of this recap. Sorry.
The aftermath. Sarah Kozer says that one day she went to work and the next was on CNN being followed around by news cameras. She was afraid to leave her house. Zora Andrich had people hiding out behind her trash cans. It is hard when the entire nation sees you embarrassed and humiliated. I would think it would be. Jerri Manthey tells us an anecdotally of a time she was on a boat floating in a lake when two girls waded up with intense looks telling her she was a bitch on Survivor and that they hated her. Amaya Brecher said the public reaction ran the gamut from kids screaming her name to being slapped on the arm by a woman who told Amaya that she was a bad influence on her child. Honestly, what’s wrong with people? Do you really think you should let the kiddos watch The Real World if you are so worried about them being influenced by the media? Perhaps instead of slapping people that woman could have better used her time learning how to change the channels on her television or locating the off button. Matt Kunitz says it’s hard for people since they aren’t famous like Brad Pitt, so they can’t say they were playing a role and people come up to tell them they are jerks.
Afterwards “stars” of these shows are treated like three-week-old milk. Ew. Mike Malin says he didn’t expect to be kicked out of a speeding limo but says producers immediately wash their hands of you. When you are kicked out of the house you are escorted through the back and you see cast pics with red X’s drawn through your face. Zora Andrich felt totally alone after the show and she wasn’t left with anyone to look after her. I don’t dislike her, but did she expect a permanent nanny ever after? Ruthie says the next cast comes in and you are still wondering what happened to you. Irene McGee points out that it’s hard to be a household name and not able to pay your bills. Amaya says that it’s the producers making millions and millions in syndication and the cast doesn’t see a dime. Did they learn nothing from the cast of Gilligan’s Island? Amaya feels she’s one of many people at the center of a big joke. Mike Malin says that they are making tens of millions of dollars off of the show and he would live with a thank you and some respect. Awww… how hard can that be? Thank the man.
American Idol is the exception. Winners are in fact turned into real stars. The winners and runners-up have contract exclusivity with Simon Fuller who basically owns them from here on out. Kelly Clarkson has a record deal with Fuller for 19 albums, and one of her songs was written by Kathy Dennis, a songwriter represented by Fuller. Kelly’s film debut, From Justin To Kelly, was written by Fuller’s brother Ken. It tanked. Ken Freundlich, entertainment lawyer, says that musicians are usually surrounded by a team of people ensuring some checks and balances. When all the hats are worn by the same person it has the potential for abuse.
Ben Pappas says some find it hard to come down from the excessive amounts of attention they have gotten on their shows. Jonathan Murray, Executive Producer of The Real World, says that after the show they are shocked no one wants to talk to them and that no one is interviewing them about what they had for breakfast. I have to say this came off as very mean-spirited from a man who has built a fortune off kids who crave just that kind of attention. Ruthie Alcaide says it’s like being swept up in a tornado and it spits you out and everything’s a mess and you’re wondering what just happened.
So where are they now? Gideon Horowitz is promoting a fashion show drawing on the sliver of fame he has left. He says, “I am not famous. I didn’t cure cancer. I don’t think I’m important and I don’t think I’m a star.” I never saw his show and never heard of him until now, but I think I love him a little bit.
Jerri Manthey is still shooting for Hollywood writing and producing short films and she’s involved in a sketch comedy group. She wants to be known for her craft and not just because she was on some reality show. [Editor’s Note: Then again, she went on another reality show, The Surreal Life, and is almost certainly on Survivor: All-Stars.]
Gervase Peterson has done TV spots for Sunkist soda and is promoting Headblade razors. They are a special razor for shaving one’s head and he has his own signature line.
Irene McGee is lecturing on the dangers of The Real World. If you feel you can’t change the world she challenges you to try to sleep with a mosquito in the room. She feels she’s that mosquito for reality television. She looks really great and is so well spoken. If she can make a few bucks after all she went through, good for her.
Most reality stars take a shot at Hollywood after their stint on their show is over. Mike Malin is doing very well with his upscale restaurant, Dolce (one of his partners is Ashton Kutcher) and his bar, Belly, which is a hang-out for former reality show stars. When he is asked for advice from those who have more recently stepped out of their show’s spotlight he tells them to run fast back to their real lives and don’t look back. Sarah Kozer says that she has worked so hard. She has two degrees, she went to law school, has traveled the world and now she’s known for being the girl in the bushes. (Of course, she was also the girl in the foot fetish videos before that…) Irene ends by saying she is famous for being “the girl who was slapped by that guy and that’s not what I signed up for. Or did I.”
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Before Jamie discovered the joys of writing about reality TV, she interviewed musicians for the website she co-owns, AceFrehleyOnline.com. She can be reached with comments or job offers at email@example.com.
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