Weather Channel cuts reality TV to make DirectTV happy

DirecTV and The Weather Channel’s public spat over money has ended after three months, resulting in the network conceding by cutting its reality TV in half during weekdays. In a joint press release, the companies said “The Weather Channel agreed to reduce reality programming by half on weekdays.”

The network’s CEO, David Kenny really didn’t conceal who was making concessions here and who was running scared: “Our apologies to DirecTV and their customers for the disruption of our service and for initiating a public campaign. Our viewers deserve better than a public dispute and we pledge to reward their loyalty with exceptional programming and more.”

Variety reports that this “will not affect Weather Channel’s primetime lineup or future programming development, according to a spokeswoman for Weather Channel,” but has resulted in some weekday repeats being replaced with live weather.

Meanwhile, DirecTV’s chief content officer Dan York bragged how the changes: “I know this was frustrating for many of our customers, but their patience was ultimately rewarded with a better deal and a better product.”

DirecTV previously made a hilarious argument, insisting people didn’t “don’t want to watch a weather information channel with a forecast of a 40% chance of reality TV.” Apparently, a 20 percent chance of reality TV is a more acceptable forecast.

Someone please help this man find a home for his Disney, arcade memorabilia

A man who previously appeared on Hoarders is looking for a home for his hoard, which is not what you’d expect (i.e. feces, dead things, or trash). Instead, it’s culturally, nostalgically, and potentially even monetarily valuable things: antique arcade games plus Walt Disney World and other theme park artifacts.

Randy Senna appeared on Inside Edition recently and besides admitting to his hoarding (“I am the good hoarder. Just because you hoard things doesn’t mean you live in filth and have all kinds of dead animals and buckets of urine. My hoarding classification comes from the fact that I have accumulated so much that it is life-encumbering”), he had a plea.

“If I were to find to the right venue where a museum could be created—whether it’s through a large organization like Disney or Universal Studios, or through a state or government agency—I would donate everything … to that cause,” he said. After 14 years in Wildwood, New Jersey, his awesome collection in a former Woolworths is still not open to the public due to never-resolved issues with the city. Randy described his memorabilia as “priceless to me and to most people who appreciate Americana.”

Randy was featured on the 2011 episode of Hoarders that I went behind the scenes for Playboy. Prior to Hoarders, Randy ran a boardwalk arcade, but closed it to take care of his parents.

“I need to get this stuff out before I go,” he told Inside Edition. “I need to get it set up so it can live on. So that once it gets donated to the museum, then I can set it up for them, document it for them, and the history of it. And then I’m free to depart.”

Hopefully, that heartbreaking plea will reach the right person somewhere.

Nick Cannon booed trying to fake a shot for America’s Got Talent at Knicks game

America’s Got Talent’s host Nick Cannon was repeatedly booed at a New York Knicks game last Wednesday at Madison Square Garden while trying to film a segment for the show during which he faked a trick shot. It’s unclear whether the crowd was booing his faked shot or the way it was being used to film some unnecessary crap for an NBC reality competition.

In the video below, before Cannon hands off the mic to a producer, he is booed so loudly that he’s virtually inaudible. The producer tells the crowd that “when his shot goes in, everybody’s going to go crazy”—telling the crowd to lie, basically. Then, Nick Cannon returns and says “America’s Got Talent, I’m your host…” and the crowd’s loud booing returns.

In the clip below, filmed by someone in the crowd, judges Howard Stern and Howie Mandel are visible when Cannon has to re-shoot his intro to the faked shot and the crowd boos again. They’re standing on the side of the court with someone who looks like judge Heidi Klum from the back.

ESPN reported that:

“Cannon told the crowd he would pretend to make a trick shot and asked fans to cheer when the shot was supposed to go in. Cannon explained that through the magic of TV, the trick shot is supposed to go in to make him look like a good basketball player even though he cracked that he’s not. … Of course, Knicks fans didn’t seem to be in a cooperating mood as they booed Cannon the majority of the time. When they were supposed to cheer after he throws up his trick shot and it goes in, some did cheer.”

It’ll be interesting to see if any of this impossibly stupid bunch of bullshit makes it on the show, and if it does, whether editors who help Nick Cannon make the faked shot also replace the booing with fake cheers.

Biggest Loser Rachel gains weight; Naked and Afraid butt maggots; game jam reality show walk-out

  • Biggest Loser winner Rachel Frederickson previously defended her disturbing weight loss by only saying that her “body is going to balance and find its rhythm with maintenance and it’ll be perfect,” and Rachel now says she’s reached that perfection: “I’ve gone up about 20 pounds. I think I’m at my perfect weight!”
  • Naked and Afraid’s March 23 was set in Madagascar, and one of its participants, Jeff Zausch, blogged “14 ‘secret’ behind the scenes facts.” Most horrifyingly, he reveals that a wound on his butt crack had unexpected consequences: “flies laid eggs in my wound and they grew into maggots!” He also reveals that the head of the lizard he bit off ended up on a spear, where it mocked a camera operator: “I named him after ‘Joe’ the cameraman, who was a jerk!”
  • The Hollywood Reporter’s editors chose 2014’s top 25 reality players; $1 is Mark Burnett, followed by Gordon Ramsay and Ryan Seacrest.
  • Animal Planet Canada cancelled its broadcast of the third season season of Call of the Wildman, following the horrifying revelations that the show’s shameful practice of staging scenes with trapped animals led to injuries and/or death, though the network insisted no animals were hurt. The Canadian network only said the show “has not been resonating with Canadian audiences.”
  • The production company behind Lindsay Lohan’s series, Lindsay, asked Toronto Mayor Rob Ford about doing his own show. The Globe and Mail reports that a Pilgrim Studios exec wrote on an e.mail, “I’m writing because I’m interested in speaking with you and Mayor Ford about the possibility of developing an unscripted television project together.”
  • Following a live jump off Everest in May, Discovery will broadcast Skyscraper Live with Nik Wallenda in the fall, during which he “will attempt to cross the Chicago skyline, untethered,” like he did over the Grand Canyon last year.
  • One of A+E Networks channels will air a show called Married at First Sight, on which six people meet each other and get married that very second. Later, they’ll decide whether or not to stay together. If that seems backwards, well, yes.
  • Relativity Television is producing a reality series that follow players in the women’s tackle football league Legends.
  • Game Jam, a Mountain Dew-sponsored show, was supposed to follow independent game developers, but instead its cast walked off the show following sexist questions from a producer. Polygon has a detailed report that includes links to blog posts by contestants about it, and a link to a report by a journalist who was on location: How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day.
  • New Yorkers will film themselves for an AOL series called Connected, an Israeli format.
  • The Taste judge Nigella Lawson wasn’t allow to fly from the UK to L.A. because she admitted to cocaine use during a recent trial; the United States embassy now says she can apply for a visa and that “these matters are generally handled routinely and expeditiously.” Her fellow ABC reality show judge, Anthony Bourdain, tweeted: “I am absolutely mortified with embarrassment over the cruelty and hypocrisy of US actions re: #Nigella travel. Unbelievable.”
  • Sometimes reality shows become more about advertising than actual show content—NBC’s American Dream Builders, I’m looking at you—but sometimes pure advertising is worth sharing. Honey Maid’s new graham cracker ad—which features families including a single father, an interracial family, and two fathers with a kid—received a lot of predictable reaction online, and they responded in a really interesting way. Get out your tissues:
  • Try not to be inspired by this man’s amazing passion and patience

    I haven’t seen a film as simultaneously charming, inspiring, and thought-provoking as Tim’s Vermeer in a long time, perhaps ever. While the documentary details Tim Jenison’s quest to discover and reproduce how Johannes Vermeer painted in the 1600s, and explores ideas about art and technology, it’s ultimately just absurdly fun.

    Tim’s Vermeer is directed by Teller, whose partner in magic and other TV shows, Penn Jillette, narrates the film and appears in it; Tim Jenison is a friend of the magicians, so Teller was there with cameras from nearly the start of his experiments, showing Jillette how he painted a portrait of his father-in-law despite never having painted before.

    But it’s Jenison himself who carries the entire thing. He’s a made-for-TV personality, and I say that as a compliment: articulate, funny, passionate. I’d watch a weekly series during which he tinkered with things. When I watched, the theatre audience simultaneously gasped and said “wow” multiple times at the things he was doing and accomplishing.

    The film is just 80 minutes long but covers about eight years, and both Jenison and his project are presented via terrific camera work and editing that captures and condenses his process exceptionally well. The painstaking process of creation—and oh, the patience he has—is conveyed without the movie being slow itself.

    Teller talked about the film with NPR, and it’s worth a listen, but since a lot of the film is discovery, I’d say that the less information you have, the better. So, if you’re not yet convinced, watch the trailer below, or maybe just go see it: it’s now in theatres and opening in more throughout April.


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    Survivor merge: holy chaotic sandwich idol what wow

    On one level, the events of Survivor Cagayan’s seventh episode were pretty straightforward: Tribes merged, Sarah’s lack of commitment to either her old or her new alliance and her simultaneous swing-vote power trip led Kass to flip, and Sarah was voted out.

    On another level: OMG!!!!!!! WTF!!!!!!!

    That was an incredible episode and a particularly spectacular Tribal Council, from people exposing their idols to the Tribal Council vote-switching to the surprise result of the vote to the obnoxious applauding by those who did the blindsiding. It was just moment after moment, yet another of the amazingly crazy Tribal Councils we’ve seen over the past few years.

    The fun idol play seemed to lead Aparri to switch from Tony to Jefra, but also seemed to be entirely unnecessary because Tony wasn’t in danger (though I can see why he’d want insurance for Kass’ swap). Also, sometimes men feel the need to pull out their idols and make sure everyone knows they have one.

    Tony revealed and then played his idol for LJ, who then revealed his idol and played it for Tony. Thus both idols were discarded—and after all that work they went to re-finding their idols before switching tribe beaches, too.

    After Spencer challenged him to pull out his idol, Tony did, but before playing it, asked Jeff Probst to validate it, as if that’s a thing. Jeff, the correct answer was, No, I won’t. Play it if you want to see if it’s real.

    The repercussions for Kass’ swap will be interesting. As she said early in the episode, best-laid plans end up “sprawled out on a murder scene floor.” (Um.) And as she said after the vote at Tribal, when Spencer basically said she’d lost any chance of winning, there’s a lot of game to go.

    While “Chaos Kass” (sigh) has probably destroyed her long-standing alliance, it was possible Sarah would have destroyed it anyway, so I think it was better for Kass to take control herself—especially since things didn’t seem to be going her way with Tasha basically telling Sarah to vote Kass out. Even if Kass ends up on the bottom of the new pile, that’s better than being in the middle of the pile that’s being picked apart.

    Sarah spent most of the episode walking around with a giant sign that said “FORESHADOWING MY OWN EXIT,” telling the cameras and her fellow contestants that she was the swing vote, even saying the game was a “Sarah sandwich,” but it ended up being one of those sandwiches you pick up and the middle squirts out onto the floor.

    Sara was also acting odd about her alliance’s desire to vote out Jefra, Proving that she really was the best strategist, she insisted Tony didn’t have an idol and wanted to vote out LJ or Tony because they didn’t have idols. Meanwhile, Tony wanted Sarah to swear on her badge and she refused, which didn’t exactly give him confidence, though the demand was obnoxious.

    Woo won the first individual immunity, perhaps because he was was the only person wearing shoes while having to perch on thin pieces of wood and the narrow top of a floating platform. If his Vibram FiveFingers-like shoes actually did give him an advantage, he deserved the win even more: Probst says contestants were given a choice about whether or not to wear shoes. While this balancing challenge isn’t new, it did show off some fantastic cinematography and editing—never mind nature’s role, as the wind picked up just as everyone stepped up to the top of their platforms, and started falling off in waves.

    Earlier, the tribes merged after receiving Tree Mail that was so vague that I thought for sure the tribes wouldn’t be merging, just living together, at least for an episode, but they actually did merge—even their names merged, because tribe name creativity is dead. While the drama that resulted was fantastic, on some level, I wish they hadn’t merged: all of the tribe-related twists are being flung at the contestants and us really fast, and we don’t really get a chance to see longer term impact of them.

    But, clearly, the choices Probst and production are making are yielding dramatic results. So are the choices the players are making. I’m not quite sure what game many of the contestants are playing, but they are certainly ensuring things stay crazy interesting, emphasis on the crazy.

    7 reality shows you should be watching in April

    While April is bringing us at least one show that seems like parody but is very real, it also has several new shows debuting, in addition to the shows that started airing in March. Four of those are ones I hope you’re watching now:

    1. CNBC’s The Profit is having a strong second season that comes off as more produced than season one, but it’s still engaging and real (here’s a news story about last night’s satisfying story, for example).
    2. OWN’s Lindsay, which I love for its fourth wall-breaking.
    3. Syfy’s Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge, which started last week and is pretty much just like Face Off, except the process of construction is much more interesting and doesn’t lead me to fast-forward, like I now do during the middle of Face Off episodes. There’s also the bonus of Jim Henson nostalgia.
    4. Discovery’s Naked and Afraid, which is back for its second season and although it’s paired with an obnoxious after-show, Naked After Dark, the series itself is as compelling as ever, with varied locations and personalities making each episode very different.

    There are others that I haven’t been able to watch fully yet, such as Chicagoland and The Freshman Class, that I’m looking forward to, and perhaps I’m missing others. (Let me know!)

    This month, three new series among the many, many debuts stand out to me. They are:

    Knife Fight, April 15, Tuesdays at 9. Esquire’s fun cooking competition—hosted by a former Top Chef winner—returns for its second season with impressive chefs competing in the stripped-down showdown, including Sue Zemanick, Traci des Jardins, Charles Phan, Tim Love, and Mark Peel. The prize-less, half-hour show is quick and not at all gimmicky, so you’re just watching two (usually very competitive) chefs show off their skills.

    Years of Living Dangerously, Showtime, April 13, Sundays at 10. A reality series executive produced by Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron about climate change and starring celebrities sounds like it could be parody, straight out of Team America: World Police, but the trailer suggests otherwise. In it, James Cameron sums up what the series is about: “the stories of people whose lives have been transformed by climate change.” Those stories are told and explored by a group of journalists, scientists, and celebrities, including Harrison Ford, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, and Jessica Alba, and aided by some tremendous cinematography and

    Deadliest Catch, Discovery, April 22, Tuesdays at 9. I admit that I haven’t watched in a few seasons, having grown somewhat tired of the repetition. But I’m thrilled this show exists, and not just because, along with shows such as Naked and Afraid, it proves Discovery is capable of high-quality nonfiction despite airing reputation-destroying crap like this. It’s Deadliest Catch’s 10th season this year, and its brutal reality is matched by its artistry, which is evident in this trailer.

    O-Town reuniting, Discovery’s Hunger Games show: not April Fool’s Day jokes

    Making the Band group O-Town is reuniting, and the Discovery Channel plans a series that’s even more like more Hunger Games than The CW’s version last summer, Capture.

    Although it’s April Fool’s Day, and although I once actually satirized TV networks producing a real-life Hunger Games, Discovery’s plans are real. Survival Live strands eight people for 42 days, and the network describes it like this, according to EW, which got the press release before the rest of us: It’s a

    “24/7 real time, multi-platform viewing experience where viewers will play a large role in each survivalist’s success or failure. The survivalists struggle will be streamed live, day and night, from the moment they are abandoned into the remote wilderness with only the clothes on their back. Viewers will have the ability to check out the survivalists biometric data to see who is physically struggling, and can elect to help them out. The survivalists will be able to build a relationship with the audience by talking to them through the cameras. That relationship could be the difference between failing to succeed on the first week or making it the full 42 days. To prosper, these survivalists will need the audience in their corner if they want to stay alive.”

    Meanwhile, O-Town’s Jacob Underwood, Erik-Michael Estrada, Dan Miller, and Trevor Penick are reuniting more than 10 years after breaking up. They will produce new music, but without Ashley Parker Angel, who is busy acting and taking selfies of his pubes. The group’s new web site says:

    “After a crash course in the entertainment industry in their early twenties, the guys have enjoyed branching off into different facets of the entertainment business. Their first experience left them with a desire to become more educated, seeing first hand how incredibly complicated (and sometimes corrupt) the industry can be. And now, after 10 years apart, Trevor, Jacob, Erik, and Dan are reuniting as friends with a renewed passion for making music together again.”

    Jacob told Billboard that “We had discussed a summer tour to perform our old songs and finally give the fans what they’ve been asking us for the last 10 years. However, once we began working, what developed was something a little more ambitious. The ideas kept flying and we couldn’t help but start making new music.”

    You may recall that they hinted about reuniting three years ago, so we’ll see if this time sticks—or if it was a pre-April Fool’s Day joke after all.

    HIMYM spinning off a reality series: How I Met Your Big Brother

    CBS was already developing spin-off called How I Met Your Dad long before last night’s How I Met Your Mother series finale, and now comes word that this summer, the network will air another spin-off: a reality series that pairs with the network’s usual summertime competition.

    How I Met Your Big Brother will be a documentary-style series that will show just how Big Brother’s cast members found their way onto a national television show, following both current cast members and some past cast members. However, only those unknown and underexposed past cast members will be profiled, such as fan favorite Jessie “Mr. Pec-Tacular” Godderz and beloved couple Rachel and Brendon.

    When it profiles current cast members, producers hope it will serve as a way to humanize the cast even and help us understand why they do things such as voting for certain players, shouting so loudly in the Diary Room they cause hearing damage, going on racist rants, nominating who producers gently suggest they should nominate by telling them to do it or their future in Hollywood hosting shows will be ruined, and threaten to stab each other.

    The series will illustrate the careful, scientific process by which talented casting producers narrow the applications, interview people, field applicants’ obnoxious phone calls for months and months, and then have their choices thrown out by executives who think they know better and are eager to re-use their press release about how the show is a social experiment designed to generate revenue off the back of disposable people.

    For the first time ever, we’ll also see the background check process, or as it’s known outside of Hollywood, skimming the first page of Google results. We’ll also see past cast members describe how their close personal friendships with strangers on Facebook and Twitter led to their casting and gave them an outlet for the personal and confidential information they couldn’t share anywhere else.

    Borrowing lessons from How I Met Your Mother’s nine-season run, the entire season will be dragged out long past its logical conclusion, finding creative, new ways to alienate even its biggest fans.

    The show will air on the CBS-owned TVGN and be broadcast in standard definition to make it as unwatchable as possible.

    This fictional, satirical story is part of the April 1, 2013, edition of reality blurred. Happy April Fool’s Day.

    Which Survivor quitter are you? Take the quiz!

    Lots of people have quit Survivor over the years, for reasons including regret that they’d left to play the game while a loved one was ill, asking to be voted out because they’d given up, and pure ego.

    If there’s anything more exciting than the drama associated with fan freak-out following a quit, it’s online quizzes, which allow you to figure out what Muppet Baby you are or what your feces say about your leadership style.

    So, in an attempt to become the next Buzzfeed, I present the Which Survivor Quitter Are You? quiz. Think about each answer carefully, and you’ll soon find out which quitter you are!

    1. Are you Osten Taylor? Yes No
    2. Are you Jenna Morasca? Yes No
    3. Are you Sue Hawk? Yes No
    4. Are you Janu Tornell? Yes No
    5. Are you Jeff Wilson? Yes No
    6. Are you Jon Dalton? Yes No
    7. Are you Chet Welch? Yes No
    8. Are you Kathy Sleckman? Yes No
    9. Are you GC Brown? Yes No
    10. Are you NaOnka Mixon? Yes No
    11. Are you Kelly Shinn? Yes No
    12. Are you Dana Lambert? Yes No
    13. Are you Brandon Hantz? Yes No
    14. Are you Colton Cumbie? Yes No
    15. Are you Lindsey Ogle? Yes No

    Reveal which Survivor quitter you are

    This satirical story is part of the April 1, 2013, edition of reality blurred. Happy April Fool’s Day.