Restaurant Stakeout staged fights; arm wrestling show; Trump University lawsuit

  • More evidence that Food Network’s shameful Restaurant Stakeout is fake: The owner of The Original Mama Angelo’s said producers “made us stage incidents. They made the staff fight … it wasn’t real. That was upsetting.”
  • AMC tells me that there’s no word yet on the future of its great series The Pitch, but the network has renewed Small Town Security and announced a new documentary series: King Of Arms, which is “a look inside the raw and highly-competitive world of American arm wrestling.”
  • Florida’s ridiculous attorney general, Pam Bondi, recently postponed an execution so she could attend a fundraiser–for her own re-election campaign. Now, three days after she announced she was considering deciding whether to join New York’s lawsuit against Trump Institute, “Trump’s foundation cut a $25,000 check to a committee associated with Bondi’s campaign,” The Orlando Sentinel’s Scott Maxwell reports. Incredible. In August, Trump’s school was sued by New York’s attorney general for $40 million, when Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that “Trump University engaged in deception at every stage of consumers’ advancement through costly programs and caused real financial harm. Trump University, with Donald Trump’s knowledge and participation, relied on Trump’s name recognition and celebrity status to take advantage of consumers who believed in the Trump brand.”
  • Sharon Osbourne’s makeup artist is suing NBC over an injury sustained on the set of America’s Got Talent, and Sharon–who’s no fan of NBCtold TMZ that the show’s stage is “he worst stage in the entire world … Some guy designed a stage set with a hole in the middle. Somebody has to pay the price.”
  • The Hills star Jason Wahler writes about his suicide attempt, addiction, and more, and how they were affected by his time on the series: “I knew that Laguna and The Hills weren’t the source of my addiction, but the overnight success, fame and cash ignited my addiction much quicker.” He also says that it was on Celebrity Rehab that “I really decided to put my game face on and do whatever it took to get sober, including letting go of my past demons.”
  • Bravo executive Christian Barcellos has been hired by Fox International Channels as its new VP of lifestyle and reality programming; Variety notes that he “steered many of” Bravo’s hit shows, such as The Real Housewives, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Flipping Out, and Bethenny’s shows.
  • How to get your business featured on a reality show.
  • American Idol winner Phillip Phillips now has two albums on the Billboard 200, including his debut album, which is moving back up the chart.
  • Next Food Network Star winner Jeff Mauro has the most-popular recipes on Food Network’s web site (via Food Network Gossip). No one tell Ina Garten that she’s number two to a sandwich-making reality star.
  • The Sing-Off loses its star

    Ben Folds

    NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.

    A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

    Anna Martemucci

    What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

    Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

    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.