Survivor defeats Idol; Queen of Versailles reality show deal; Last Comic judges; more Call of the Wildman abuse

  • Survivor beat American Idol in total viewers and in the 18-49 demo for the first time on Wednesday; it defeated Idol in the demo for the past three weeks but only this week beat it in total viewers, too. The two shows will face off in May, when both air their finales on the same night.
  • A disturbing picture of a trapped coyote in a tiny cage is part of Mother Jones’ follow-up report on abuse of animals on Animal Planet’s Call of the Wildman, which stages scenes using real animals. The new report notes that authorities are investigating, in part because Kentucky doesn’t allow coyotes to be imported, and one had to be brought in to replace the “sick and unresponsive” one in the cage.
  • Last fall’s best new reality series, Behind the Mask, earned Hulu its first Emmy nomination: a Sports Emmy Award nomination in the Outstanding New Approaches to Sports Programming category. Also nominated: HBO’s 24/7, 30 for 30, A Football Life, Casualties of the Gridiron, The Journey, MLS Insider, and Nine for IX for Outstanding Sports Documentary Series, and four films in the Outstanding Sports Documentary category.
  • Willie Robertson apparently agrees with his dad about the stupid things he said (because the Bible says them), but fewer and fewer people care about their show: ratings were down about 30 percent this season, though it still does well in its timeslot.
  • Queen of Versailles star Jackie Siegel’s desire to be a reality star may soon become a reality: She won her life rights back, and now has a deal with an NBC Universal production company to produce a reality series. Also during arbitration, David Siegel lost his defamation claim about the film’s content and has to pay $750,000 in legal fees to director Lauren Greenfield.
  • The father of camera operator Darren Rydstrom, one of the three people killed in a helicopter crash during filming of a Discovery series, has sued Discovery Communications and others claiming they were “negligent in the hiring, retention, training, and supervision of their agents, employees.”
  • E! announced another Kardashian spin-off, Kourtney & Khloe Take The Hamptons, and Jimmy Kimmel produced this PBS documentary trailer about “their furious march for domination”
  • New ABC reality executive Lisa Berger hired Jason Sarlanis to be her VP of alternative programming; they used to work together at E!, and he’s now the senior VP of unscripted TV at Ryan Seacrest Productions, where he oversaw Keeping up with the Kardashians. It’ll be interesting to see if ABC turns into E!–or more into E!, since The Bachelor is pretty much E! programming.
  • FremantleMedia bought 75 percent of 495 Productions, the producer of Jersey Shore and Party Down South that’s run by SallyAnn Salsano.
  • Guess what Bethenny Frankel is blaming the failure of her talk show on? Hint: Not herself. “I felt edited and diluted, a little bit controlled. And I’m not really great when I’m shackled. As you know, you have to kind of unleash the beast,” she told Andy Cohen. “Ultimately, it was not what I really should be doing. I really didn’t love it the way that I thought that I would.”
  • Anonymous sources can’t agree: new Dancing with the Stars co-host “is liked. Everyone likes her” and/or “arrogant, obnoxious and difficult to work with.”
  • NBC’s reboot of Last Comic Standing announced its judges: Roseanne Barr, Keenen Ivory Wayans, and Russell Peters; the show will be hosted by JB Smoove.
  • OWN cancelled Our America with Lisa Ling, which will air its final season starting May 29. Of the show’s 44 episodes, Lisa Ling said, “I have never been more proud of anything I’ve ever done in my career and hope that our shows have enriched people and provoked them to think differently and with compassion about those who inhabit Our America.”
  • Bravo is going to start letting its viewers choose which scenes will be shown on television, yet another of its attempts to integrate fans into the TV they’re watching. The network should be commended for trying new things, but I fear this just further devalues the perception that some reality TV is crap that requires no talent to produce. But the process of editing and selecting footage is a craft, not something that should be left to a vote.
  • Watch this short but fascinating documentary, via Laughing Squid, about the people who take on the “very lonely profession” of creating neon signs in Hong Kong. It’s produced by the Hong Kong museum M+ and its “online exhibition that celebrates a key feature of the city’s streetscapes by exploring, mapping and documenting its neon signs.”
  • 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.