Mark Burnett gets Hollywood Walk of Fame star because he “revolutionized television”

Mark Burnett will receive the 2,387th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today because, as The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s announcement says, he “has produced more than 1,100 hours of television programming which regularly airs in excess of 70 countries worldwide,” never mind that he has “revolutionized television.”

His ceremony will take place at 11:30 a.m. PT at 6664 Hollywood Boulevard, and Jeffrey Katzenberg will speak. Those who get a spot on the Walk of Fame have to be nominated and pay $25,000 for their star, and show up for the ceremony.

Although he has definitely “revolutionized television,” Burnett also has an ego that’s roughly equivalent to that of an entire season of Survivor cast members. In a Variety profile (part of a trio of articles about his work; there are also features on Shark Tank and Wedding Day), Burnett says, “CBS was the first network to do unscripted drama. I felt confident in this format and turned (the original concept) from a gameshow to dramatic storytelling, where we built a world in which core values are the truth. The way you win is by getting rid of people in a way that they don’t hate you, and in fact will reward you for getting rid of them by handing you a million dollars.”

He deserves a ton of credit–and as a disclaimer, I’m quoted in the Variety piece saying as much–but this is a ridiculous exaggeration and part is just not true. While Survivor changed TV significantly, it was not the first network unscripted drama. ABC beat CBS with the first season of Making the Band, which was produced by Real World producers Bunim-Murray.

Nor did Burnett turn game shows into dramas; for that, we have Road Rules, never mind network series such as Who Wants to Marry A Multi-Millionaire and maybe even Who Wants to be a Millionaire, both of which found human drama in a competition.

Burnett also continues his pointless crusade against the term “reality TV,” although his explanation basically says the he makes television out of reality: “‘Reality’ is a label some journalists created. What I do is unscripted drama. ‘Survivor’ and ‘The Apprentice’ put people into situations that aren’t real at all. They aren’t actually marooned on an island, and they aren’t actually applying for any jobs,” he said. But of course, what happens within those situations is real–unscripted, as he says–and that’s why the genre that he’s helped shape has worked so well.

Mark Burnett raises reality TV genre [Variety]

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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.