Octomom’s kids hated, then liked reality show crew; paparazzi mad they’re being filmed, too

In its Sunday magazine, New York Times has an extensive report about the 11-day filming of Octomom Nadya Suleman’s documentary series by production company Eyeworks. The paper notes that the documentary “was set to be shown in Britain last week; a U.S. deal is pending.” However, considering the low ratings for the Fox special that used RadarOnline’s unused footage–only 4.2 million people watched–I’d be surprised if it aired on a broadcast network.

Suleman said she decided to do the show because “It’s a Catch-22. I’m damned if I do what I need to do with the media to support my kids, and I’m damned if I don’t. If I don’t, I can’t take care of them. … I made these choices out of the midst of being in survivor mode. I think 99 percent of people would have made the same decision.” Suleman and her kids received $250,000 to be filmed for 11 days for the reality series that she originally denied she wanted.

The story is full of lots of interesting–and disturbing–details, like the kids’ reaction to being filmed. Because they already hate the paprazzi, Andy McLeod, a camera operator for Eyeworks, said, “When we first came here, the kids hated us. They were shouting out the window: ‘Go away! Go away!’ They had already learned to hate the paparazzi. And we were the paparazzi. Now that we’ve been here a while longer, they like us.”

And director Luke Campbell said one kid told him, “Stop taping me! Why are you always taping?” and on day one, one of Suleman’s older kids “took the handheld light out of my hand and stuck it in my face and said: ‘How do you like that? How does that feel?’ This 6-year-old kid!”

There’s a lot in the piece about how artificial the shoot is, despite Eyeworks’ insistence that, like the way the crew velcroes a kid to a board to get a shot.

There’s also an interesting detail about the parazzi, who are pissed at Eyeworks for not playing ball like those amazing journalists at Radar did–and for filming them. Oh, the irony. Paparazzi Jason Mitchell said, “Before these people [Eyeworks' crew] came here, we worked with Radar. When Radar did it, they would work with us. If they wanted to keep some stuff to themselves, we agreed and said as long as you let us get a picture. If you’ve got private stuff you want to do, just talk to us. The Radar people were brilliant. These people? Amateurs.”

Octomom in Production [New York Times]

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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.