U.S. Senate now has a former reality TV cast member: Cory Booker

Newark mayor Cory Booker was elected to the United States Senate yesterday, which The Star-Ledger reports “makes history” because he’s “the first African-American to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate.” He is also the first former reality TV show cast member to become a senator.

Booker’s rise from mayor to senator is somewhat different than former Real World cast member Sean Duffy’s rise to Tea Party congressman. Both were followed by cameras for documentary-style series, but Booker was followed while he was mayor by filmmakers who produced the great 2009 Sundance reality series Brick City, which won a Peabody Award.

The series is now on DVD, and three of its cast members are now being followed for a new series, Pivot’s Jersey Strong. It follows Jessica “Jayda” Jacques and her fiance Darel “Creep” Evans, members of the Bloods and Crip gangs, and also Brooke Barnett, an attorney who once defended Jayda, and her partner Maggie. The first episode is online.

Here’s an excerpt from Brick City that introduces Cory Booker and Jayda:

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.