Why Jillian Michaels quit again; Adam Richman apologies; Drunk History’s accuracy; A&E sued

News and links from the past few weeks, when I was busy finishing the redesign and reporting from the summer Television Critics Association press tour (a lot of terrific interviews and information coming from that soon). And thanks for both your feedback and for bearing with me during this initial period as I solve some lingering problems (surveys were appearing way too often, the front page was sometimes not refreshing, comments are cut off a little on mobile devices).

  • Unscripted programming is “79 percent of all first-run hours in primetime,” according to The Hollywood Reporter, which explores why “the genre’s newer series have had an increasingly difficult time breaking in.”
  • Jillian Michaels at NBC's Winter 2013 TCA 2013 event. (Photo by Shutterstock.)

    Jillian Michaels at NBC’s Winter 2013 TCA 2013 event. (Photo by Shutterstock.)

    Jillian Michaels quit The Biggest Loser for a third time because of “fundamental differences that have existed for a while” with the show’s producers; she told People “millions of people have this warped negative perception of me” because “[y]ou saw none of the relationships, none of the bonds that I build with my clients.”

  • Fox’s plan to have two people jump over a canyon live, Jump of the Century, on the anniversary of Evil Knievel’s failed attempt, has been cancelled. Fox told RealScreen it was because of “production timelines and budget concerns,” while one of the two men, Big Ed Beckley, wrote on his blog that “We will not sacrifice safety, our integrity, and our just reward for attempting a real motorcycle jump over the Canyon,” but”are now seeking other media partners and we are undaunted by this development because it is in God’s hands.”
  • Fox’s production of a studio-based naked dating show has been put on hold and/or cancelled, according to The Wrap, while the network gets new leadership.
  • Adam Richman is working hard to apologize for his horrific comments to an online critic while promoting his new NBC series Food Fighters (Travel Channel pulled his show Man Finds Food). He said in a statement to GMA, “I’ve long struggled with my body image and have worked very hard to achieve a healthy weight.” He said on the Today Show that “I got into a silly social media argument, and I lashed out in just a really inappropriate, really crude way, and…I’m incredibly sorry about my actions.” (Telling someone who disagrees with you to kill themselves is “silly,” really?)
  • Former Bachelor star Ben Flajnik doesn’t want to “relive the nightmare” of his “unpleasant” appearance on the show, nor did he want to discuss Courtney Robertson’s tell-all book, which he called “disappointing.” But he did tell the Washington Post that he’s come to terms with his experience on the show: “I tried to avoid it for awhile. And then a year and a half ago or something. I thought: ‘You know what? You might as well embrace it — you decided to do it.’ It is a part of your life, for better or worse.”
  • BuzzFeed highlights interesting things from Courtney’s book; among them is that she was offered $125,000 plus $30,000 per week to be on Dancing with the Stars. But she says Ben told her, “‘If you do it, you won’t have a fiancé.'”
  • A comedian faking something for a CMT “reality” show was handcuffed and detained by police while he was dancing in his boxers outside a strip club while a camera crew hid nearby. Ramsey Moore told the Athens Banner-Hearld that the strip club “had a sign up that said they were looking for dancers, and the logic of the sketch was that the economy is so bad that people are auditioning for any job they could get. The sign does not make it clear that Toppers was looking for female dancers.”
  • A&E has been sued by a manufactuer of camoflauge clothing which has trademarked one of its lines of clothing as “My Favorite Color’s Camo”; A&E sells Duck Dynasty-branded clothing and has used Si Robertson’s line “my favorite color is camo” to promote it. The lawsuit says “A&E’s use of the name has led to instances of confusion, including instances of reverse actual confusion, in that customers either believe that Hajn is selling Duck Dynasty apparel, or that Hajn’s apparel and related novelty goods are based upon the show.”
  • Southern Charm cast member Thomas Ravenel, who was previously South Carolina’s state treasurer until he was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison for a drug charge, is running for Senate.
  • Bethenny Frankel, Skinny Girl mogul, thought it would be funny to wear her 4-year-old’s pajamas and post a picture online. Paulina Pinsky argues that Bethenny is “is blatantly perpetuating the unrealistic standard of beauty that declares that we must all shrink ourselves down to fit into what is considered ‘beautiful’ and ‘sexy.'”
  • America’s Next Top Model winner Whitney Thompson opened a restaurant in Tennessee.
  • In a story about lightweight boxing champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, The Vindicator reports in a hilariously matter-of-fact way that “Reality shows do not have pre-written dialog, but their stories are set up in advance.” That’s certainly true for some shows, not true for all shows.
  •  HBO announced that it “has created a regular slot for its powerful and provocative documentaries, featuring debuts of new original films along with timely encore presentations every Monday night” at 9 ET. That started with The Case Against 8; here are its upcoming documentaries.
  • Discovery Communications announced that on Jan. 15, 2015, it will re-brand Discovery Fit & Health as Discovery Life Channel; the new network will be “[p]rofiling ordinary people in extraordinary situations” and offer “an unfiltered look at real relationships,” and have “new series that explore life’s unexpected challenges and the moments that really matter.”
  • The Real World Philadelphia house is for sale for $4.3 million.
  • Comedy Central’s Drunk History, on which actors reenact historical moments that have been previously narrated by actual drunk people, is “a genuinely instructional documentary series,” according to the New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum. She writes that “it’s also a perversely effective way to deliver historical information. As it turns out, drunk narrators are also passionate, unpredictable, and entertaining narrators.” Yes they are:

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.