ABC VP says reality “is viewed as equally important as comedy and drama”

A panel discussion about reality TV, one that was interrupted by WGAw protesters, found that “media reports suggesting television reality series are losing popularity are overblown,” according to TV Week.

Although I agree with them, they’re not exactly an objective panel, as every one of them is either a reality show producer or a network reality show programmer/executive, so their jobs kind of depend upon the genre sticking around.

Perhaps most significantly, ABC’s Andrea Wong, who serves as executive VP of alternative programming, said, “The unscripted area at ABC is viewed as equally important as comedy and drama.” Although her network is still airing The Bachelor and cancelled The Mole, it has had successes recently with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Dancing with the Stars.

Bunim-Murray Producers’ Jonathan Murray noted that Starting Over is “half the cost of ‘Passions.’ Maybe reality will replace daytime soaps.”

In the most shocking admission, American Idol‘s executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said that he doesn’t like product placement, even though his show relentlessly whores Coca-Cola and Ford. “If I had my way I’d never do it,” he said.

Panel: Reality Genre Not Dead Yet [TV Week]