Leaked diary room footage offers insight into reality TV interviewing process

Big Brother 10 houseguest Michelle’s entire interview session with a show producer was accidentally broadcast. While Diary Room audio has previously been leaked, now more than 20 minutes of raw footage are online on YouTube, captured by Big Brother Klub (the audio and video aren’t synchronized, so the videos make for a better listen than viewing experience). Despite the fact that they’re fairly substance-less, and Michelle’s baby voice is increasingly annoying, they still provide insight into how producers get the soundbites that are used constantly during every episode.

One of the most interesting moments comes at the very beginning of the first segment, when Michelle and the producer flirt–and she literally growls at him and he says, “Ooh, kinky.” Then he says “you look good” but points out that some of her hair is out of place, and she fixes it. In the second segment, she says, “I think we get verklempt around each other,” he agrees, and then they both growl at each other. Do they flirt with every houseguest like this as a way to get them to open up? Or is Michelle special?

Besides that, the questions are direct but open-ended and fair, as far as I can tell, and seem very typical for reality TV one-on-one interviews (the other types are confessionals, where the contestant speaks to a camera alone, and on-the-flys/OTFs, where a producer asks questions on the scene). The questions may be too open-ended, because she rambles way too much and says far too little; just wait until the second segment, when she starts talking about politics.

Also interesting is how well-versed in the reality TV interview process Michelle is. For example, when asked to clarify an answer, she doesn’t just answer with a phrase, but usually remembers to answer in a full sentence that restates the question. That way, the editors can use the full sentence without having to provide the question. Anyway, here’s the first of the three segments:

BB10: Diary Room Leak! (1 of 3), BB10: Diary Room Leak! (2 of 3), and BB10: Diary Room Leak! (3 of 3) [YouTube]

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.