Bachelor women, Ben photographed in public place, so production crew and publicist threaten a newspaper

The Bachelor is in production, and production in its star Ben Flajnik‘s hometown has prompted another round of lunacy from reality television production crew members and publicists who think that they own public property and can actually control the media’s reporting on their activity.

Friday, 11 women and Ben were in downtown Sonoma, Calif., and The Sonoma Index-Tribune reported that there was a “simultaneous series of video shoots” with the women and “[c]ameras were rolling at five or six spots around the Plaza lawn and Flajnik himself was being taped behind City Hall.” The Morton Report has details about an apparent date Ben went on downtown.

The unbelievable part is how the crew reacted to the presence of the media in a public place. The newspaper reports that “[c]rew members were so concerned about their privacy that they demanded that Index-Tribune staff not photograph or video the activities taking place in plain sight on the Plaza, in the midst of scores of citizens enjoying the sunny weather. Those demands were not complied with.” Good for the paper for not kowtowing to that bullshit.

This isn’t anyting new: journalists were threatened by The Real World Denver crew and police, and cast members on The Real World San Diego threatened journalists, too, even though those people were on public property. (Update: There was a similar situation with Top Chef Texas.)

The most appalling part in the Index-Tribune’s report is this: “a woman who identified herself as the ‘studio publicist’ for The Bachelor, left a voicemail message at the Index-Tribune threatening to cut off access to information and interviews if the newspaper staff did not stop shooting the production.”

What unmitigated arrogance. The sad part is that this threat is probably status quo for this publicist, who is clearly drunk with power. The currency of the tabloid, entertainment press is access, and some publicists–the ones who don’t actually understand how to do their jobs well or understand journalism at all–use their power to control what gets written about their shows. The truly sick part is that a lot of journalists comply in their desperation for scoop and faux “exclusives.”

The newspaper put together this must-watch video of their interaction with the crew, complete with unintentionally hilarious, near-film noir narration. One crew member actually says, “Sir, you can’t just film this.” How misguided and ignorant do you have to be to imagine that you and your crappy reality TV production have the right to control public property?

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.