reality TV helps, worries insurance cos.

reality TV helps, worries insurance cos.
Who do we have to thank for letting us have our reality TV? The insurance industry! The chief entertainment underwriting officer of the St. Paul Travelers Companies says that “reality TV is the fastest-growing segment of the entertainment insurance industry.” And that means insurance companies stand to make a bunch of money, as “Insurance rates on a reality TV show with physical stunts can be 20 to 50 percent higher than a standard program shot in a studio,” according to an AP report. But to avoid paying out a huge claim, they’re actively involved in making sure the shows are safe. The AP reports that for a recent Fear Factor stunt, a “team of risk-control analysts questioned, analyzed and triple-checked every detail of the stunt. The cow tongues had to be properly cooked and certified as safe to eat by the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the lard had to be fresh from a supermarket freezer.” Kenneth Wefer, the owner of “an engineering company based in Los Angeles that helps insurers evaluate stunts,” tells the AP that it’s a dangerous game: “One death. One dismemberment. That’s all it could take to end reality television.” Wait, is he kidding? A dismemberment would make the best. reality. series. ever., and after getting huge ratings, would lead FOX to create I Want to be an Amputee.

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.