Entertainment Weekly, Variety, THR merging with networks’ publicity departments

This satirical, fictional story is part of the April 1, 2010, edition of reality blurred. Happy April Fool’s Day.

At least three publications will merge their operations with the publicity divisions of the five TV networks in order to more efficiently and economically produce content that positively promotes reality and scripted TV shows. The increasing lack of distinction between publicity and journalism will make this change invisible to readers.

Entertainment Weekly, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and other as-yet-to-be-named publications will combine their editorial operations with the public relations divisions of several unnamed networks, including CBS, which everyone involved said will save money and make their jobs easier, especially as television shows continue to save resources by decreasing quality.

EW’s Michael Ausiello, for example, will be relocated to central casting, where he can actually make casting suggestions based on his knowledge of what kind of pedestrian news could best be presented as a “spoiler” or “scoop,” while Dalton Ross will take the next logical step and make corny jokes from the warehouse where CBS is storing the Survivor Micronesia cast members until it needs them, and him, for another all-star season.

Sources said this change would also solve a lingering problem for certain TV executives. “Many publicists are passionate and effective advocates for the shows they represent, even when we produce shows that suck, and they understand how to work with the media,” a network executive said. “But because some executives want to control everything because we’re control freaks, we like working with those publicists who know how to threaten and control journalists who do more than produce advertorials. We want to encourage those people by giving them greater access to the journalists who’ve decided to just skip practicing journalism so they can get exclusives that are really the product of quid pro quo relationships rather than, say, reporting.”

With the new arrangement, those publicists can hand-deliver “exclusives” to the trade press or “blogs” they’ve written in their talent’s voice to Entertainment Weekly, or better, just type them right into WordPress. In addition, network executives can now make unreasonable demands of their publicists and journalists all at the same time. Instead of telling a publicist to instruct journalists to edit and change already-published stories, the executive can just go over to the journalist’s desk and rewrite the story for them, before returning to monitor production on TV shows that had previously been produced for nine years without their insight and assistance.

“We’ve tried hard to prevent critics and journalists from getting information by creating horrible, inaccessible network publicity web sites, but that hasn’t stopped writers from, like, asking questions during interviews and doing other unreasonable things,” another source said. “We’re confident this will solve our problems.”

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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.