E! Network Developing WWE Divas Reality Series

The cable network is rolling out an intriguing slate of new projects, including a reality series following the lives of seven WWE rising starlets (think Stacy Keibler pre-George Clooney), the anticipated new series following music sensation The Wanted, a fan-driven talk show with überfan Ross Mathews, an innovative new interview show produced by Ashley Tisdale, a new “investigative” series from The Soup hosted by Joel McHale, a stereotype-busting show from producer Jack Osbourne and a look at Nick Cannon making over his grandma’s house because…why not?

Source

So apparently the Divas reality show being mentioned for the WWE Network is going to an actual network instead.  I won’t be watching it but it’ll likely bring in a bunch of 13 year old boys.

Book Review: Wrestling Reality: The Life and Mind of Chris Kanyon, Wrestling’s Gay Superstar.

Chris Kanyon was a lot of things. He was a wrestler. He was a physical therapist. He was a wrestling trainer. He was manic depressive. What most remember about him, though, was one distinct fact: Chris Kanyon was gay.

Chris Klucsartis was born to parents of varying Russian descents and spent his childhood living in Sunnyside, Queens, New York. In many ways, he had what you could call a typical childhood: baseball, hockey, all the shenanigans and mischief that lend themselves to young boys, and a growing love of pro wrestling. Indeed, growing up in New York City, Chris gravitated towards wrestling in the form of the WWF. Wrestlers like Superfly Jimmy Snuka captured the attention of the young Chris. Soon, he and his friends were mimicking the very moves they saw on television in their local park. But what really was the tipping point for young Chris Klucsartis was a time when the NWA visited suburban New Jersey. He and his friends attended the event, landing great tickets. His Uncle chaperoned them, and he was your typical “Why do you guys like this? You know its fake, right?” kind of guy. Not one to likely be impressed by any goings-on in the squared circle. Well, on this night, Ric Flair was defending his NWA title against Ricky Steamboat. Steamboat and Flair had their normal great, tight match, and, after 29 intense minutes of action, they had Chris’s Uncle enraptured, not to mention young Chris. It was at this juncture that Chris Kluscartis made up his young mind: He was going to be a pro wrestler, come hell or high water.

All of this reads like a primer in wrestling biographies: Boy falls for wrestling, sees it for the first time live, has epiphany, follows dream. It also reads like a typical childhood. Certainly, pro wrestling is a big part of most male childhoods. Chris Kluscartis, though, was leading anything but a typical male childhood. His world was shot off center by one realization he had at a very young age. From the time he was six or seven years old, when he found himself infatuated with a male friend of his older brother, Chris Kluscartis came to realize that he was gay. Heady stuff for a kid that age in 1970’s New York. Add into this mix that Chris attended Parochial (Catholic) schools throughout his childhood, and it almost seemed an insurmountable cross to bear. Chris dealt with it in probably the best way he could short term, but would essentially ended up crushing any long term enjoyment in his tragic life: he hid it. He denied. He attempted to portray himself as the picture of heterosexual masculinity.

In short, Chris Kluscartis’ life would never be easy.

While Chris was suppressing his natural urges, he found an outlet in professional wrestling. There is a great story in this book in which Chris and his friends attended WrestleMania IV. They witnessed wrestling history (and one of the most boring Mania’s ever) when Randy Savage ascended the WWF ladder and became WWF Champion, beating Ted DiBiase in the finals of a 16 man title tournament. After the event, while staying in a hotel adjacent to the WrestleMania venue that year of Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey, while his friends slept, Chris grew fidgety. He had the wrestling bug, and he had it BAD. He left the comfort of his hotel confines and stumbled back over to Trump Plaza. To his astonishment, he found a door ajar, and wandered the labyrinth of corridors until he found himself gobsmacked with astonishment at the site he had stumbled upon: He had come to the ringside area where the event had been held, and nothing, not the ring, not the ring and rafter bunting, NOTHING had been removed yet. He walked that WrestleMania aisle (which, if you recall, was a very long affair with many steps) and found himself smack dab in the middle of the ring where Savage had just made wrestling history. He bounced around the ring for a few minutes, then came to a realization: He needed a souvenir. Initially, he wanted to take the WrestleMania IV banner. The big one. If you remember WrestleMania IV or V, that Mania banner was massive. There was no way Chris could feasibly escape with that monstrosity. Instead, he formed a better plan. He took the top turnbuckle cover that Macho Man had leaped off of in the Main Event to dismiss The Million Dollar Man. Christ, what a memory, what a fantastic piece of wrestling related memorabilia. He hightailed it back to his hotel room, and, come sunrise, showed off his new bounty to his friends.

All was not sunshine and smiles, though. Chris graduated High School and chose to attend the University of Buffalo. He was still gay, and HEAVILY closeted. The lengths he went to to conceal his homosexuality were nothing short of extraordinary. He rationalized that he needed to have sex with a woman, and he picked a winner. After several aborted attempts with various willing co-eds, which resulted in…um…results varying from straight denials to difficulties trying to use a condom (think we’ve all been there) to premature ejaculation (KNOW every man has been there). Once again, add in the gay dilemma and that period must have been excruciatingly agonizing for a young man. Finally, Chris was turned on (and not in a good way for him) to a willing young co-ed from a different, nearby college. She was, what we call in some circles, a slam pig. I know, not a great term, but, apparently this girl was willing to spread her legs for dudes sight unseen. Chris stumbled through the process, and eventually finished the deed. However, there was an unforeseen side effect. Well, not unforeseen to anyone above college age. The girl who took Chris’s virginity had given him something in return: crabs. The gift that keeps on giving. Understand why I called her a slam pig now?

Chris studied physical therapy while at U of Buff, a major he figured would let him get close to pro wrestling. It was a friend of his, however, that led him to the promised land of wrestling training. Chris wanted to attend either Chris Adams or, I am guessing, the Owens (or Barr’s) camp in Oregon, but was told in no uncertain terms to finish college and stay away from this “Godforsaken business.” Chris was dismayed, but certainly not deterred. One day, though, a friend of Chris’s expressed his desire to acquire an actual wrestling ring. Naturally, huge fan Chris was instantly in on the idea. Chris was a subscriber to the old sports periodical, “The National Sports Daily.” Every Friday, there was a wrestling column authored by a certain gentleman named Dave Meltzer. (Honestly, this little blurb is my favorite part of the book. I have been an avid sports fan since, well, basically, infancy. My dad, no slouch himself with sports, started buying me “The National” daily. I loved it, sopped all the information it provided like a sponge. It was the wrestling stuff I most enjoyed, but I was a total mark at the time this publication was dispensed. It always had great stuff that I used to wow my elementary school friends. One instance had me winning a bet with a 4th grader because I had read that Mr. Perfect had won back the IC title from Kerry Von Erich. Another had me correctly predicting that Mean Mark Callous would be Ted DiBiase’s mystery partner at Survivor Series 1990. No one believed me because Callous’ new character was such a departure from his WCW nom: Undertaker.) But it was a visit to the radio studios of John Arezzi, a New York radio jock who specialized in pro wrestling speculation and rumors, that landed them the opportunity to secure a wrestling ring. A guy, presumably an aspiring wrestler, in Arezzi’s waiting room turned Chris and friend to a man named Pete McKay, who had a wrestling ring available. Chris and his friend found Pete’s gym, Gladiator Gym in Manhattan, but it wasn’t a ring they secured. Seeing Chris’s childlike enthusiasm once he stepped through the ropes, Pete McKay offered to train young Chris Kluscartis. Shit had just gotten real for Chris.

Chris trained with Pete, and seemingly was a natural.  So natural that Pete McKay thought Chris was a plant sent to spy on his school sent my Johnny Rodz. No one, he thought, could be this polished at this stage. Chris assured him he wasn’t, and eventually graduated the school…without paying a single dollar.

Chris soon found himself in North Carolina, right after graduating college. He told his parents he went there to pursue a physical therapist position. While that was certainly a bit of the truth, it was far from the whole truth. North Carolina had a vibrant independent wrestling scene at that point, and that was truly where Chris wanted to be. He worked his day job as a physical therapist, and he loved that job, was gratified by it, especially working with stroke patients. But young Chris, by now renamed Chris Kanyon, was in North Cacalack for one reason: wrestling.

Chris had a few contacts in NC because he had become a subscriber to Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter. He found a contact, and that contact brought a man into Kanyon’s life that would become his best friend: James Mitchell.

James Mitchell. What can you say about this guy? Literally, what can you say about this guy? He is a card carrying Satan worshiper and sexual deviant. I stand corrected. To call him a sexual deviant would be a disservice to sexual deviants. The man is off of his rocker, and PERFECTLY suited to the pro wrestling industry. One cute story in this book was a recounting by Kanyon of Mitchell, in his wrestling manager persona of the time, telling a black wrestler that he “felches” his dog. Mitchell meant fetch, but uttered felch. Felching is a weird sexual subgenre that I will allow the reader to follow up. Suffice to say, Mitchell made a mistake in speech, and was dying in hilarity backstage.

Kanyon and Mitchell worked for a brief time in Smokey Mountain Wrestling, run by Jim Cornette. Kanyon, in this book, pegs Cornette dead on as a total hothead. Supposedly, Rick Rubin, of Beastie Boys, Run-DMC and, more currently, Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” was a financial backer of the promotion and wanted a mummy character. Mitchell managed it, and it was a disaster. Picture a wrestler covered in toilet paper that was rubbed in dirt, and you get the picture. Kanyon, at this point, was nothing more than cannon fodder, enhancement talent for SMW and WWF. Mitchell and Kanyon were eventually let go by SMW because of an altercation between Mitchell and Cornette. Kanyon was a victim of circumstance.

It was at this time Kanyon gave up on wrestling. For a brief time. He decided to take a physical therapist position in Connecticut and would shelve up with a childhood friend. While he was moving in with said friend, a box of his moving materials spilled to the ground, exposing some stag mags. Gay sex magazines. When confronted, Kanyon simply stated that Jim Mitchell put them there as a rib. Kanyon was still closeted, and still very, VERY scared of his secret leaking out. He blamed it on sexual…I don’t know what to call James Mitchell…freak? There are no words for what James Mitchell was, and is. Don’t believe me? YouTube (yeah, I used it as a verb) some of his shoot interviews. Whatever. Kanyon felt compelled to call Mitchell, who was one of the few privy to Kanyon’s gay secret, to explain the situation. Mitchell could have given two fucks. When Kanyon’s friend called Mitchell to confront him, Mitchell was concise: “Yeah, those were mine. I am a huge fag. Total fag.” James Mitchell, ladies and gentleman!

Kanyon soon grew tired of the regular 9-5 grind, and found a nearby wrestling school. A great one. It was Afa the Samoan’s school in Allentown, PA. He kept his ring rust off and met a lifelong friend: Billy Kidman. Together, the two toured Memphis and some other places, but fate would soon smile upon the two.

Fate was WCW. Kanyon, because of his 6’4″ frame, was signed quicker than Kidman. Kanyon soon was settled into a groove as a jobber, while also helping to train lost souls at the WCW Power Plant. Jody Hamilton, the Assassin, Nick Patrick’s father, rather grew to like young Kanyon, his abilities and his ability to train others. That was not the doorway to success for Chris Kanyon, though. The doorway was Diamond Dallas Page. Page, who lived next door to WCW puba Eric Bischoff, had some clout in the company. And Page liked Kanyon. Kanyon was soon pegged for what Bischoff, at the time, considered his greatest coup. Bischoff was hoping to capitalize on the Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter video game craze. He had devoted hours of study and resources into this venture, and had come up with characters mimicking the game. Kanyon initially was to have portrayed a character based on reptiles, but it was changed to a skull. Glacier, Mortis, Ernest Miller, Wrath: BLOOD RUNS COLD everyone. Widely panned as one of the worst wrestling gimmicks ever, there seemed to only be two saving graces: Wrath, due to his look and imposing demeanor, and Mortis, Kanyon, who provided the solid wrestling skills. Their push was hurt by the debut and success of another Bischoff creation of the time, the NWO. Kanyon proved he was a good wrestler with several solid matches facing untrained Glacier and Ernest Miller. With the NWO running wild, there was no hope for a mid card act like this.

This is where the book gets dicey. Kanyon was friends with DDP, and as long as that bond was there, Kanyon was never going to flounder. Granted, the NWO basically crushed the non-cruiserweight mid card of WCW for some years, Kanyon was given a stay of execution. He unmasked, became Kanyon, and came up with a decent catchphrase: “WHO BETTA THAN KANYON?!?”  Eventually, this led to a union with Page and Bam Bam Bigelow, who formed the “Jersey Triad.” I personally loved this angle during the waning years of WCW, and still adore it to this day. I was too young to remember the glory years of the three man Freebirds, so this was as close as an approximation that I was likely to get in my formative years. They won the WCW Tag Team Titles, and any two of the three would be allowed to defend them (the Freebird rule).

Unfortunately, both WCW and Chris Kanyon, at this juncture, were coming apart at the seams. Chris was being torn asunder by both his closeted gayness and his undiagnosed manic depressive disorder. Adding to this toxic mix was the fact WCW was about to fold. Kanyon was dismayed and had no idea of what to do or who he really was. Unfortunately, something major was about to change that.

That something major was 9/11. Any American can tell you what they were doing in the hours leading up to the attack, what they were doing when the second plane hit, and what they did in the aftermath. For me, I used to love scaling tall things. Loved going to the summits of tall places; The Empire State Building, The aforementioned Twin Towers; The John Hancock Buildings, both in Chicago and Boston. Since that day, my asshole puckers everytime I see a view of a building from great height. Kanyon took it even worse than I did. His brother worked near the Trade Centers, and he was mortified (see what I did there) when he heard of the attacks. Luckily, Kanyon and fam were safe from the destruction caused by Al-Queada. Unfortunately, Chris Kanyon never truly recovered.

9/11 shocked Chris Kluscartis. Shocked him to a point he should have reached earlier, but never did. He finally came out of the closet to his family. Not to his wrestling family, just the family that matters. It was a tough moment for him, made even more unbearable when his father asked “Are You the Pitcher or the Catcher?” Woof. Imagine your old man asking that. Chris assured his dad that, with his 6’4″ frame, he was the pitcher.

At that point, Chris was a valuable part of the WCW Alliance angle in WWF. The Alliance “MVP.” Unfortunately, WWF, as the book puts it, and I also happen to believe, did not see his talent. Kanyon, for all the bullshit in his personal life, was better than most of the wrestlers who were retained in the WWF/WCW storyline. Kanyon should have had a bigger role. Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury that put him out for a while.

It was during this while that Vince McMahon came up with an idea: an effeminate character for Kanyon. Kanyon did not like it upon his return for injury, but, hey, a guy has to make a living, right? But Vince, Vince McMahon, the promotional genius, the rajah of wrestling, well, he had a dense plan for Kanyon. By this point, Kanyon’s homosexuality, while not announced, was fairly well known. And Vince “Master of Tact” McMahon decided to utilize it. He began with telling Kanyon to accentuate his already lispy voice. Uh. Huh. Kanyon told Vince that he wanted to portray a gay character with laurels, admitting his life to the man. And this is where the book turns towards the darkside.

Vince McMahon is a lot of things: business genius, wrestling guru. But a master at the subtlety of human behavior is not one of the saving graces of the man. MAN LIKE WOMAN, MAN PURSUE MAN, MAN CLUB OVER GIRL HEAD.  That is Vince. Pre mastadonian man. Vince did what Vince does: He fired Kanyon.

Kanyon never truly recovered from this shunning, Why should he of? Pat Patterson was RIGHT THERE. The problem was that Kanyon never came clean to his wrestling breathren. (That word has no spellcheck alternative and as a writer I am keeping it there because spellcheck is not infallible.)

Kanyon eventually came clean to his family. He admitted his true self. You would think that it would have solved all of his problems, but, no. Kanyon was as clear of a case as a manic depressive you are ever likely to see. You see, Kanyon was a mess. With the underlying problem of his homosexuality, he had missed out on the fact that he ALSO had a very hard and very real illness. A psychological illness.

With all that was plaguing Chris Klucsartis, it was a wonder he lived a successful life as long as he did. Chris constantly has suicide attempts throughout his life, which are detailed in the book, but he finally succeeded on April 2, 2010.

This book is more a celebration of a troubled man’s life, but at the same time is a tragic coda. Chris Kanyon was an outstanding professional wrestler. But his demons overcame him, and, unfortunately, he became just another wrestling statistic.

Chris Kanyon was not just another wrestling statistic. He was a MAN. A good man. A homosexual man. And his pain, his process, should not be lost on anyone.

WHO BETTA THAN KANYON????????

Nikita Koloff on crappy reality show?

I know you're a Cracked fan so I was curious if you had "The 4 Least Anticipated TV Shows of March 2013", which is found here? 


One of the shows is called Preachers' Daughters, a reality show for which the title is pretty self-explanatory. I kinda skimmed through the article but what caught my eye was that one of the preacher dads is listed as an ex-pro wrestler. I assumed it was some indy bum but I looked it up and to my surprise…it's Nikita Koloff! The show probably won't even make it a full season but if they want me to watch, just have Nikita go back to kayfabing not knowing English whilst he interacts with all of these people, feature Ivan in a cameo, and maybe have him hit an atheist with a chain. It'll draw MILLIONS!

Here's the AVClub's review of the show:  http://www.avclub.com/articles/preachers-daughters,93536/
What I want to know is what's up with the "Nikita Koloff" thing? I thought he was just going by Scott Simpson outside of his wrestling appearances?  And why is his daughter using Koloff as a last name? Is this like a "Brooke Hogan" deal where they're using the name for TV purposes?  

Meekin On Movies On…Reality TV

The Unreality of Reality TV: An Opus

(Author’s
Note: As someone who has worked on his fair share of Reality TV, I
figured I could help explain the process that goes into making those
sorts of shows)

(Second Author’s note: The third part in the editing pro-wrestling series is on hold until I obtain the hard drive.)

Introduction

I’m
of the firm belief that reality TV is the new soap opera. It’s also the
new educational television. It’s also the new game show, geekshow, and
travel show.  As the world grows and changes and new forms of media and
entertainment obsolesce older ones, it’s becoming readily apparent that
audiences crave “reality”. “Pawn Stars” may be about history, but it’s
also about three tough-guys in Las Vegas. “No Reservations With Anthony
Bourdain” may be a travel show, but it’s also about one tough S.O.B’s
love of cooking, boozing, culture, and fun. “Keeping Up With The
Kardashians” may be a vapid, banal, and ultimately pointless show, but
it’s about four very real women who have very real lives and make very
real news.

But
how real is “reality”? Are Kim Kardashian and Co. secretly reading a
script outline before heading to shop for clothes? Has Rick from Pawn
Stars been told what he’s going to pay for a Civil War musket? Is
Anthony Bourdain’s attitude a function of the production? Well, the
question is complicated.

And I know the answer.

In
much the same way pro wrestling becomes infinitely more fascinating
once you’re “in the know”, Reality TV becomes a triumph of editing,
cinematography, directing and perhaps most importantly, producing once
you understand the process. It’s really easy to film a bunch of people
doing things and call it a reality show. It’s incredibly difficult to
coordinate meetings, locations, camera crews, and audio people and still
give the audience the feeling that they’re a fly on the wall at a lunch
between Harvey Pekar and Anthony Bourdain.

In
what I hope will be a successful series of articles, I hope to educate,
entertain, and explain the process that takes place when it comes to
shooting a reality television show. I will hit on the history of the
genre, the various sub-genres, and ultimately tackle the question of
whether, by and large, the genre is “real” or “fake” (Spoiler: Somewhere
in between).

I
will do this using the knowledge afforded to me by my fancy pants degree
in Television Production, my experience working on a variety of reality
TV shows, and for flavor, relay to you the times I was on “Jerry
Springer” and “The Judge Pirro” show – and how those shows bend
“reality” for the purposes of good television.

A
couple of notes here: I can’t 100 percent guarantee the factual
accuracy of my claims and research. It’s mostly coming from wikipedia
sources, my own common sense, and things I’ve read or heard throughout
the course of my life – plus I’m writing this for fun on a niche
pro-wrestling blog. So feel free to yell at me if I claim a show was
“groundbreaking” when an obscure show in Germany did the format first,
that’s cool,  but in general I’ll be writing this from the perspective
of the general consensus of American audiences. Sorry Canada.

But lets dive in.  

Part 1: History
Docusoaps, reality competition, and PBS ruined everything.


If
America felt so inclined, they could blame reality TV on PBS. In 1973,
“An American Family” aired on the Public Broadcasting System, compiling
300 hours of footage into a single 12 episode season. Initially intended
as a “fly on the wall” (or Cinema Verite) look in at your typical
American suburban family, the Louds, the filmmakers actually ended up
capturing something a bit more compelling – namely an affair by the
patriarch of the Loud clan, and one of the Loud family’s sons coming out
as a homosexual (and became the first openly gay “character” on
television). Safe to say, this was some pretty spicy stuff. Due in part
to this unexpected drama, the show was a smash.

The press wasn’t as enamored. This article from “The New Yorker” features
a few particularly brutal highlights from the contemporary press’s
reaction to the show at the time, with charming insights like referring
to the gay son (Lance) as  “camping and queening about like a pathetic
court jester, a Goya-esque emotional dwarf.”

The
Loud family weren’t pleased about how this whole thing turned out,
either. At the time, the Louds claimed the footage was unethically
edited to make their lives more compelling, to focus on the “drama” and
“negative” aspects of their lives at the expense of how things played
out in reality (sound familiar?).

Creative
editing is a staple of the documentary process, and is probably the
most important tool in turning hours of footage into a compelling
30-minute TV show. Take a look at this silly trailer I made for my family and friends (Yes I know about the typo).
Judging by the trailer you’d assume my life was filled with parties,
booze, kittens, marijuana, and bald-spots. While this is a trailer and
not an actual reality show, it’s safe to say that if you watched that
trailer and didn’t know me or my family, you’d assume we’re a bunch of
party animals. What you don’t see are the numerous weird looks I got
from following my friends and family around with the camera, and endless
amount of boring footage of me driving in my car or filming birds. To
keep things entertaining, you need to cut the fat – even if the finished
product is less than a true-to-life interpretation. Unfortunately it’s
the price of doing business.   
Equally
as unfortunate – the aftermath for the Loud family wasn’t pretty. The
aforementioned Lance Loud eventually became addicted to Meth, and died
from HIV at the age of 50. It was filmed for a PBS special in 2001.
Whether or not being America’s first “Reality” TV family contributed to
the downfall of the Louds will never be answered. Was the scrutiny of
the media, and the camera, and the american public so much that it was
impossible for the family to ever be normal again? Who knows.

But
lets fast forward two decades when MTV green lights “The Real World” –
which took a similar approach to “An American Family” but replaced a
single American family with angsty young adults from all walks of life –
throwing them into a house with limited bedrooms and ample alcohol. It
debuted in 1993 and has thus far produced well over 500 episodes. It
covered a whole bunch of taboo topics including homophobia, racism, HIV,
homosexuality, domestic abuse, and how much coconut rum it takes to put
a person into a diabetic coma (lots).

While
the series initially started as a fascinating social-experiment, as the
show went on (and audience numbers waned) it morphed into a combative,
sexually charged, vulgar, and trashy ghost of what “The Real World” once
was. The hyper-charged “Docusoap” was born.  

Which
brings us to the Heisenberg effect, which more-or-less states that the
very act of observing something changes the outcome. Did the Loud family
change their actions or act differently because cameras were
documenting their every move? Did Lance Loud become addicted to the
fame, and when it was gone, replace that addiction with Meth and
unprotected gay sex? You can’t really say.  

What
I can say with some authority is that the cast-mates on “The Real
World” (at least the newer seasons) are very obviously playing to the
camera, supercharging fights, partying, and their perceived “personas”
in an attempt to be the most engaging and outlandish personality in the
house. Controversy creates cash, after all.  

“The
Real World” ultimately begat “Road Rules” which was essentially “The
Real World” on wheels. It followed a buncha people in a giant winnebago
as they competed in challenges in an attempt to win a prize of some
sort. The shows would regularly cross over for the “Real World / Road
Rules Challenge” which unintentionally invented (or popularized) the
concept of a “Reality TV All Star” and the sub-genre “Reality
Competition”.

Both
the “The Real World” and “Road Rules” helped pioneer the use of the
“confession cam” where the show’s “characters” would talk directly into
the camera about their situation, their roommates, and a variety of
other subjects. In fact it’s impossible to watch any reality TV show
these days and not see a confession cam. It is here that the line
between reality and Reality ® blurs.

These
confessional interviews are generally made to look like off-the-cuff
comments. Very often, however, there are producers encouraging the cast
to speak about a specific subject, person, or event in the household,
often times not-so-subtly suggesting ways a cast member can incite drama
or rage amongst his house-mates. These sorts of conversations between
producers and cast members are instrumental in creating “quality”
“reality” television for the masses.

Ultimately
“The Real World” and “An American Family” paved the way for the
sub-genre of reality TV that is largely responsible for the trashy
stigma associated with the format. From “The Real World” you can pull
out well over a dozen shows that have used a similar format, or opted to
follow a select group of people during their day-to-day lives. There is
no “Jersey Shore” without “The Real World”.

“Docusoap”
Reality TV is popular and ever-present for a few reasons. First of all
it’s far cheaper to produce than most forms of television entertainment –
a 26 week run of “The Real World” is likely shot in a little over a
month or two, where as a standard drama or sitcom takes 7-10 days to
shoot and edit a single episode in addition to months of pre-production.
Additionally there is a sense of fidelity that comes with watching
“real” people do outlandish things. It’s far easier to become engrossed
in the acts of a “real” person who jumped into a pool naked with two
bottles of tequila in her hands than it is to invest in the antics of
Ray Romano on a set with a canned laugh track.    

But
to really understand what made Reality TV is what it is today, we need
to get tropical. “Survivor” debuted in the summer of 2000 and was an
immediate smash and cultural phenomenon. It averaged about 28 million
viewers per episode, with the finale pulling in just north of 50 million
eyeballs (well technically 100 million eyeballs). By comparison the
Super Bowl that year was watched by about 88 million folks.

Hell, it’s 12 years later and people still know who Richard Hatch is and I had to look up who played in the 2000 Superbowl.

Following
“Survivor” reality TV was off to the races. American Idol, Big Brother,
The Bachelor Fear Factor, Dancing With The Stars, The Surreal Life, and
about six dozen other shows ushered in the era of competition reality
television. MTV launched “Making the Band” which combined the theatrics
of “The Real World” with the competition element of “American Idol”.

There
was a reality sub-genre for everyone. “Project Greenlight” appealed to
our inner filmmakers, “Last Comic Standing” for our funny bone, “The
Bachelor” for our inner romantic, “Joe Millionaire” for our cynic, and
so on. One part human drama, one part game show, it was easy to see why
these shows attracted massive audiences – some became invested in “the
game”, others in the people, and most, if I had to guess, watched these
shows as guilty pleasures. By and large, these shows are…okay.
“Dancing With The Stars” might as well be America’s personal USO show,
and after 12 years “Survivor” is so slick it’s impossible to *not* be
enthralled by the challenges, locations, characters, and competition.

As
Reality TV boomed like never before, chances and experiments were taken
regularly. A&E launched a show about the day-to-day lives of
Airport employees, as well as a show about the workers at a funeral
home, they also launched the delightfully trashy “Dog The Bounty Hunter”
in 2004. Discovery Channel chimed in with “American Chopper” in 2003,
and followed it up with the incredibly popular “Deadliest Catch” in
2005. The “workplace reality show” was coming into it’s own – and as the
2000s turned to the 2010’s, they’d come to dominate the reality TV
landscape.


Next time:

The “unreality” of “reality” – The tricks of the trade you won’t notice unless someone tells you about them, and the ethics behind them.

Also: the creation of “reality” – inside my production documents for my own reality TV show, “The Good Samaritan”

Food Network Reality TV


Scott,


About your comment about "Restaurant Stakeout" being staged, I wanted to point out that there has been similar criticism about Robert Irvine's "Restaurant: Impossible" show.  Irvine did a show near Cleveland, and the owner of the restaurant said that they basically staged things to highlight as problems on the show, and Irvine just overacted on camera:

http://strongsville.patch.com/articles/mad-cactus-owner-finally-talks-about-tv-makeover

It is also interesting from the standpoint of how Food Network used to frequently push some bullshit bio for Irvine (that he was instrumental in the creation of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake) until that was blown out of the water.

Bill

Well those makeover shows are obviously staged for fake drama, from the artificial deadlines to Irvine's over-the-top personality.  Plus he's married to a wrestler, so he knows the score.  The worst by far I've seen is "Health Inspectors", which is obviously bad actors.  

But yeah, makes me miss the good old days of coming home from work and watching Emeril.  I'd lament the fall from grace of A&E too, but I'm the guy watching Storage Wars, Parking Wars, and Shipping Wars in three hour blocks on the weekends so I have no moral leg to stand on.