E’s Simple Life 5 debuts, follows Paris and Nicole at a pretend camp staffed by actors

The Simple Life 5 debuts tonight at 10 p.m. ET on E!, before moving to its regular Sunday night at 9 timeslot. This season, which was delayed due to Nicole Richie’s hospitalization, follows Nicole and Paris as they “work” at “Camp Shawnee” as “camp counselors” for five different groups of “campers.”

The producers have apparently decided to completely give up pretending that this is a reality show, so I’m not even quite sure why I’m covering it any more. It’s an embarrassment to Bunim-Murray, the production company that has enough to be embarrassed by with The Real World.

For one, “Camp Shawnee” doesn’t even exist; instead, the location is Camp JCA Shalom, located in Malibu. That camp’s staff page doesn’t include “Ed and Dawn Bellante,” who are the alleged directors E! says hired Paris and Nicole to work at their camp, so they’re probably actors, too. Author Julia Havey reports on her blog that, thankfully, the show is not “dealing with ‘real’ campers” and that the “camp said the money paid to them by E! will allow them to provide better services for their real campers.”

It’s one thing to put two celebrities in an artificial context to see what happens, and even give them trailers where they get their hair and makeup done; it’s another to stage, script, and fake what happens. The real problem is that if E! and the producers acknowledged that the series was a scripted comedy, no one would care. Starting with the first season, the whole point was that Nicole and Paris were fish out of water who couldn’t cope with typical American life. Now all that’s left is that they’re bad actors being coached by unimaginative producers.

Anyway, besides being filmed at a fake camp with hopefully fake campers, at least one of the camp’s counselors is an actor and former Abercrombie & Fitch model who was cast for this show. The source of this information is E!’s own gossip columnist Marc Malkin, who reports that Hunter Cross “got the acting bug and moved to L.A. in January” and then “got the chance to be a counselor on The Simple Life.”

Cross himself offhandedly acknowledges the bullshit nature of this long-over series, telling E! that producers “invented a lot ways for me to take my shirt off.” He also told the Herald-Mail about his “mutual attraction” with Paris Hilton during “five weeks of shooting.” But the paper says “he does not know whether he will see her once her current legal problems are resolved.” In other words, since they’re not in contact any more, that romance was probably faked, too.

The Simple Life 5 [E!]
Does Malibu’s Camp JCA Shalom endorse the ‘anorexia, bulimia and cocaine diet’ as an approach to weight loss for their campers!? [Julia Havey]
Pitching a Tent with Paris’ New Pal [E!]
North High graduate has role on ‘The Simple Life’ [Herald-Mail]

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.