Survivor Skupin denies he’s running a Ponzi scheme; Jennifer Lawrence and RHONJ; TAR’s Travelocity prizes

  • Two-time Survivor cast member Michael Skupin was confronted by a local news reporter in Detroit and, in an incredibly long 12-minute segment, eviscerated for things like his foreclosed house, three marriages, traffic violations, and warrant for his arrest. The report focuses on his Pay it Forward system, which is described on his web site as “a financial sharing program wherein everyone benefits”; Mike even gives his bank account info for people to deposit money into. A post on its Facebook page said, “This is not a gimmick, a joke or an illegal pyramid scheme. YES it IS a pyramid, EVERYTHING is. YOUR JOB is a pyramid correct?”
  • Fox’s Detroit affiliate investigative reporter Rob Wolchek focused on Skupin for his Hall of Shame segment, and Skupin calls the business an “Internet cycler” and says “it’s not a Ponzi scheme,” and insists, “I’m helping hundreds and hundreds of people.” The whole thing is very awkward, to say the least.

  • Jennifer Lawrence said her performance in American Hustle was inspired by Real Housewives of New Jersey: “I can’t tell where it came from because I just kind of started speaking in it, and I’ve been watching a lot of reality TV shows and those reality TV shows have a lot of New Jersey women, so I can’t say that it’s not from them. I wish I could, I really wish I could.”
  • Britain’s Got Talent breakout star Susan Boyle revealed she has Asperger’s, saying that while some have suggested she has brain damage, “I have always known that I have had an unfair label put upon me.” Last year, she says she learned, “I have Asperger’s. It is a relief.”
  • Dismissed US X Factor judge Cheryl Cole settled her lawsuit with producers out of court; she had previous sued for $2.3 million.
  • The incredible documentary Hoop Dreams has been restored and will be screened at Sundance in 2014, 20 years after it first premiered there. If you haven’t seen it, the pre-restoration version is free on Hulu.
  • Survivor Amazon‘s Heidi Strobel is profiled: she’s now Heidi Hamels, and runs a foundation that “saves the lives of children in a far-away country.”
  • Amazing Race 21 contestant talks about his time on the show, including passport theft and the strings that come with the Travelocity prizes.
  • The Sportsman Channel is giving Sarah Palin a reality series, kind of, with an April series called Amazing America with Sarah Palin; the network says it “is an anthology of stories that explore some of the most original, interesting — and sometimes inspiring — people, places and pastimes connected to America’s outdoors lifestyle.”
  • Former So You Think You Can Dance judge Adam Shankman is in rehab.
  • Three reality shows are being shot in Maine right now, including Animal Planet’s North Woods Law, which has brought the state to the attention of other producers.
  • Discovery is considering buying Scripps Networks, which owns Food Network, Travel Channel, and HGTV.
  • Asylum Entertainment, the production company that has produced reality series such as Beverly Hills Pawn and Maui Fever, has been acquired by Legendary Entertainment, which is best-known for producing scripted films such as Christopher Nolan’s Batman series and The Hangover films, among many others.
  • An interesting comparison between two topically similar but very, very different reality series: Pawn Stars and Antiques Roadshow.
  • A list from Australia of “five reality television shows that can actually teach you something useful.”
  • Bio Channel is no more, as A+E Networks has changed it to FYI, which is described in a press release as a network that “embraces the way we really live our lives, proudly-hyphenated and not constrained by one passion or interest. It blends the inspiring personal creativity of our viewers and the emergence of powerful digital entrants to this space with a linear reach that will create a platform for new approaches to content.” And after reading those sentences, I still have no idea what the new network is about.
  • Channel 4’s Bafta-nominated The Audience returned but was bumped to a different channel because of low ratings. The show follows 50 people advised someone who needed to make some kind of decision in their life.
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