Catfish catfished? Jungle Gold fake? Big Brother challenge plan? Salinger film criticized

  • The cast and crew of Discovery’s Jungle Gold fled a militia that wanted to arrest them, which was filmed for the series. So is the show, in its second season and follows men who mine for gold in Africa, fake in any way? Its stars, Scott Lomu and George Wright, answered questions on Reddit last month and said that “the things that happen on the show are 100% real” but may be “overly dramatized.” They did admit that they “have to repeat stuff at times” if equipment fails or something interferes with audio. Lomu told The Hollywood Reporter “hearing people say the show is fake is almost offensive because real life is much, much worse than they’re seeing on TV.”
  • Two of The X Factor‘s major sponsors, Pepsi and GM, have bailed on the show (like smart viewers, zing!); Pepsi was its flagship sponsor, paying $60 million initially. In their place will be Procter & Gamble, which will promote Cover Girl, Herbal Essences, and Secret; and Honda, which will use the show to launch a minivan.
  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Rob Owen asked CBS if Big Brother plans all of its competitions in advance for fairness, and got an answer that hedges: “producers do have an overall plan for how the challenges and twists will play out throughout the summer.”
  • Swamp People stars R.J. and Jay Paul Molinere were arrested Friday for aggravated battery after “allegedly attacking a man with a beer bottle last month,” The Courier reports.
  • Salinger, the new documentary about writer J.D. Salinger, had its surprise twist revealed in news stories, and according to critical reviews, perhaps that’s a good thing. Kate Aurthur writes in Buzzfeed about its “terrible” reenactments, over-use of talking heads, and excessive focus on The Catcher in the Rye (my favorite work of his is in the amazing collection Nine Stories). Claudia Puig’s USA TODAY review calls it “compelling and captivating” in a brief review, but Dana Stevens’ Slate review called it a “tabloid undertaking,” and A.O. Scott’s New York Times review calls it “less a work of cinema than the byproduct of its own publicity campaign” that is a “blend of reverence and character assassination is an almost perfect distillation of the modern pathology of fame.”
  • The weird Catfish episode with Justin, the vigilante catfisher, is actually an “aspiring actor” who faked out the show, according to someone who claims to be a close friend.
  • Bravo renewed its docu-drama Below Deck for a second season, and one of its stars, Kat, talks about being cast for the show–and the crew was cast, though the captain of the boat (which had its name changed for the production) was its real captain.
  • Julie Chen has hosted Big Brother 15 for 15 seasons and even watched live feeds but she told ET that it was only “this season has opened my eyes to human nature. These people are living in a bubble and if you don’t get called out or shamed into behaving properly, I don’t think you’re inclined to change.” Also, she says “the casting hasn’t really ever changed and it shouldn’t change next year” even though “the ignorance in this house this season was a huge headache for the producers and the network. No one wanted that. We’ve all spent way too many hours dealing with that ugliness.”
  • TNT’s new reality series Cold Justice, which follows two women who solve cold cases, debuted last Tuesday and became “one of basic cable’s top 10 unscripted series launches for the year-to-date,” TNT said. It’s produced by Law & Order’s Dick Wolf and Magical Elves Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz.
  • PBS’ great documentary series POV is streaming many of its films for free this month only.
  • Survivor Philippines Roxy is now a cast member on WEtv’s Bridezillas.
  • A&E is producing Crazy Hearts: Nashville, a show about people trying to make it big in country music.
  • Netflix’s first original reality series will be Russell Peters vs. The World, a four-part series that follows the comedian’s worldwide tour.
  • Gator Boys cast member Jimmy Riffle taught a TV critic how to wrestle a gator, but Paul Bedard wasn’t present because he was bitten in the calf by an alligator a few weeks ago, and is recovering from an ensuing infection. They have admitted reenacting scenes with captive alligators but clearly, it’s still dangerous work.
  • In an essay about tipping that calls it “irrational, outdated, ineffective, confusing, prone to abuse and sometimes discriminatory,” Top Chef head judge Tom Colicchio (who just opened a new restaurant at the Mirage) says he’s considering eliminating tipping at one of his New York City restaurants, and instead paying “an hourly rate that would be consistent with what they make now. I think it makes perfect sense. I’m not sure my staff is going to think it makes perfect sense,” he said.
  • This video, “The Fox,” has no connection at all to reality TV but I’m sharing it because it is awesome. It’s by Norway’s Ylvis, comedian brothers who host a talk show and created this video to promote their new season. It exploded this weekend, and you will understand why when you watch it, unless you’ve already been replaying it in your head all weekend like I have.
  • Review: Married at First Sight

    Marriage At First Sight

    In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

    Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

    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.