unions want to organize reality TV.

unions want to organize reality TV.
Reality TV shows are notoriously cheap to produce; even with a $1 million prize and production costs, that’s nothing compared to the eight bajillion dollars each Friends cast member rakes in for a 22-minute episode. The New York Times says “an hour of prime-time reality programming for a major network costs about $700,000,” compared to “$1 million to $2 million an hour” for a drama. That’s part of the reason why there are so many reality TV shows on the air–that, and people love to watch other people eat eyeballs, fight, cry, and backstab. Enter the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which says “those who work on unscripted programs should receive health insurance, pensions, overtime pay and other benefits.” They’ve already successfully unionized Big Brother; other unions, such as The Writers Guild of America and I.A.T.S.E.’s Motion Picture Editors Guild, are also getting in on the action. Of course, as the Times points out, “If the producers have to pay overtime and union wages, and to make contributions to health and pension programs, the shows will be more expensive to produce. That could make them less appealing to the networks, which have come to rely on reality shows as bargains for their prime-time schedules.” So, reality TV people, suck it up and buy some band-aids and save your loose change, because we need our Survivor.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.