Two books offer advice on being cast on a reality TV show

Looking for a last-minute gift for the wannabe reality TV whore in your life? You’re in luck, as two new books focus on helping people realize their dreams of embarrassing themselves on national television.

How to Get on Reality TV, by Matthew Robinson, walks through the casting and audition process for 26 different shows. (Tragically, at least two have been cancelled; such is the problem with old media.) Some of the information is straight off of show applications, so it won’t be anything surprising or new, but the specific information about what to expect during the casting process is rather useful. And two features definitely make the book an excellent resource. “What They’re Looking For” sums up what producers want from applicants, so you can craft your character long before arriving on set. There are also interviews with both producers and cast members, the latter focusing on how they were cast. Not that we really need to hear another damn word from Mike Boogie, but hearing how successful cast members worked the system is valuable information.

So You Wannabe on Reality TV (yes, that’s the real title), by Jack Benza, only focuses about a third of its contents on the casting process. But there’s some interesting stuff here, such as chapters titled “Acing the Two-Part Mental Test” and “How to Pass the Background Check.” So, if you’re a raving lunatic psychopath, you can work the system and end up on Big Brother anyway. There are also sections on the confidentiality agreement and the application, which are interesting, but like the rest of the section, the information isn’t exactly comprehensive nor detailed. The second section focuses on “Being on the Reality/Game/Dating Show,” and offers bits of information about everything from the producers to challenges which would be useful for someone who doesn’t pay much attention to the show itself or reporting about the show. The final section, “Jack Benza’s Most Memorable Moments in Reality TV,” is, as the title suggests, rather self-serving, a mostly useless collection of stories about Jack Benza’s more than 30 show appearances (although he includes game shows in that number). It’s too bad the first third, which is worth a look, wasn’t expanded into a fuller book all by itself.