FTC kills American Idol phone scam.

FTC kills American Idol phone scam.
The FCC saves us from unwanted breasts, and the FTC saves us from stupid mistakes. People who called certain wrong toll-free phone numbers to vote during the first two seasons of American Idol were told to dial a 900-number, only to be told what the correct voting toll-free number. The scam was born when “three Utah-based companies bought dozens of phone numbers very similar to the toll-free numbers that Idol fans call to place their votes.” According to the AP, “The three companies have agreed to pay a civil penalty of $40,000 for engaging in deceptive conduct and violating federal law, the commission said.” Roughly 25,000 stupid people paid “up to $3 per call during the 2002 and 2003 seasons.”

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.