Survivor’s Hatch blogging; Idol attraction done; Kardashian ratings hurting E!’s president? Tim Gunn wants plus-sized Project Runway

Reality TV news and things from the past week or so

  • Survivor‘s first winner, Richard Hatch, is now blogging: The Hatchet Job. It also has posts by “a tax blogger and tax attorney” who says the blog is about “our collaboration: how one of the first reality television stars in history thinks he got burned and the tax blogger who tried to sort it all out.”In his first post, Hatch writes, “As a relatively skilled observer of our species’ behavior (see original Survivor series), I hope to provoke/enlighten/challenge you in ways that cause you to question everything as you seek truth while noticeably becoming more educated, happier, and more successful (which I’d argue is the synonymous with ‘happier’) — direct benefits of skepticism.”
  • The American Idol attraction at Walt Disney World is closing next January after just under six years; it opened in 2009 with a reunion of every single winner. While the closure would seem to indicate the waning interest in the show from theme park visitors and TV viewers, a statement from Disney and the show’s producers noted that “three of the top 13 contestants [from season 13] were originally discovered through The American Idol Experience and we expect the attraction to continue providing top contestants for American Idol XIV in the coming year.”
  • Late Friday, The Wrap reported that “E! has picked up the option on president Suzanne Kolb’s contract,” citing “an individual with knowledge of the deal.”

    That may be most interesting because three hours earlier, Nikki Finke reported on her new site that Keeping Up With The Kardashians‘s declining ratings (the most recent season premiere lost 17 percent of its viewers compared to the previous season premiere) may be contributing to Kolb losing her job. Finke wrote, “I hear she’s being replaced as E! President (there’s a head hunter firm working on this now) because she’s been an unmitigated disaster at the top and the results show,” and Finke cited “failed series” such as “Mrs. Eastwood And Co, What Would Ryan Lochte Do?, Chasing The Saturdays, The Wanted Life, Opening Act, Playing With Fire, Party On, and The Soup Investigates.” (By the way, if you don’t know who Finke is, read this great Washington Post story.)

  • At the end of The Hollywood Reporter’s reality TV roundtable, Tim Gunn said: “I would like to do a season of Project Runway where every model is larger than a size 12.” Some Project Runway fans agree. Stylite’s Candace Bryan argues that it “would not just increase visibility and allow for some potentially awesome collaborations with famous plus size models and bloggers. It would really get to the root of the plus size fashion problem.”
  • Earlier during the roundtable, Deirdre Gurney, one of the producers of Duck Dynasty (which The Hollywood Reporter calls a “docuseries” as if there’s anything documentary about it) said this of Phil Robertson’s homophobic comments: “I know Phil Robertson. I know how he treats a crew that has several gay people on it and people of different races.” She also defended her star by trying to claim that it was the reporter’s fault: “When someone comments to the press, things are taken out of context. Reporters are dealing with people who don’t have media training.” For someone who makes a show that lies to its audience, that’s a pretty audacious statement.
    Bless Tim Gunn, who said shortly afterwards: “I have the greatest respect for not managing people or meddling in the creative of the show. Just let things happen. I’m speaking for Project Runway, in this case. I have the greatest respect for the integrity of what the show is about. And there is integrity.” Later, referring to the two shows, Tim said, “I’d be surprised if we shared our viewers.” Gurney said, “I watch both,” and Tim replied, “Well, thank you, Deirdre. But you’re also not a homophobe.”
  • During the same roundtable, The Real World‘s executive producer, Jon Murray, talked about re-editing a series that he thought focused too much on a person who slept around. He said, “If I’m walking down Fifth Avenue in New York, and I see someone coming toward me who was on one of my shows, I always want to be able to shake their hands and feel like I treated them well. I did feel like we went too far with the way we edited one show, particularly, for a woman whom I felt like she did sleep around a little. I think we showed too much. I had regrets over it because I actually ran into her. She was very nice, and we re-edited the show for reruns.”
  • An interview with Mark Burnett, in which the Shark Tank, Survivor, and The Voice creator praises The Biggest Loser, The Bachelor, and Dancing With The Stars as “rock solid” shows whose producers “understand the consequences if you don’t treat this like a big movie every time.” He also said that viewers’ “rejection of dark, cynical, humiliation-driven unscripted is that these are real people, and there’s a responsibility for the network and the producers, of not capitalizing on humiliating people.”
  • New York City Council is holding a “Real Reality of Reality TV” hearing June 25, and has asked the producers of Pawn Stars to testify, in part because the WGA–which is also testifying–identified them as not paying overtime.
  • Long Island Medium Theresa Caputo is believed to be a fraud by a private investigator and former fans. I’m not sure what’s more shocking: the specious reporting or that people really believed in the first place.
  • There’s a “new wave of religion on TV.”
  • More debate about whether or not there’s a creative crisis in reality TV.

 

People news

  • Survivor‘s Malcolm Freberg is doing an online series that allows viewers to determine what he does during a 20-day road trip: Wayfaring. He told EW that this “is not a paid pleasure cruise for me. A lot of the viewers’ options are going to be miserable for me, and I’m at the mercy of their whims.”
  • Bachelorette Emily Maynard thinks reality TV romance can work despite her two failed engagements that came from TV shows. “It just takes the right two people. The real relationship starts after the show,” she told Parade.
  • Hell’s Kitchen 3 winner Rock Harper has used his fame to “to launch his career and a platform to talk about issues such as homelessness and joblessness.”
  • 19 Kids & Counting cast member Jessa Duggar’s boyfriend posted a picture of her holding an automatic rifle, and that led to reaction from fans–and also “brought new awareness of [her boyfriend Ben] Seewald’s strong stance against abortion,” the Christian Post reports.

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.


Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

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.