A contestant on South Korean dating series Jjak hanged herself with a hair dryer’s cord in the island house where the show is filmed, leading the network, SBS, to cancel the series. The woman, Jeon, was 29, and competing on a show that combined elements of Big Brother and The Bachelor.
The Korea Times reports that police are investigating, and that Jeon left a suicide note that referred to the nickname for the house and said:
“I want to end my life here. I am sorry. At the Love Village, the filming crew cared for me a lot. I thank them. But it’s too difficult now. Regardless of whether I meet a partner here or not, I have no will to live.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, which cites reports from South Korea, “Jeon told her mother by phone that she felt ashamed of the way she was going to appear on the program and ‘wouldn’t be able to live in South Korea’ if it aired,” and notes that “local press have hammered the show for its bullying treatment of contestants, including a rule that requires them to eat meals alone when they are rejected by potential dates.”
Here’s your semi-weekly recent news from the reality TV world:
CMT’s Jersey Shore clone Party Down South, which is produced by the same people as the MTV series, has to find a new home for its second season, as Pensacola has kicked it out. A hotelier told USA TODAY that he killed the deal to provide $1 million in hotel rooms to the production because, “It sure puts a stereotype out there, and it’s the lowest form of entertainment.”JWoww is producing a horror movie, but one that’s not too distant from her MTV past: it’s called “Jersey Shore Massacre.”Real Housewives of New Jersey stars Teresa and Joe Giudice pled guilty “to conspiring for years to defraud banks and other lending institutions while seeking nearly $5 million in construction loans, home equity loans and mortgages” and “also admitted to misleading a federal bankruptcy court,” because they “failed to disclose Teresa Giudice’s true income from the ‘Real Housewives’ show and personal and magazine appearances, and they concealed business they owned and money made from rental income,” The Star-Ledger reports. They’ll be sentenced July 8; Teresa’s lawyer will ask for probation, though she could get up to 2.25 years in prison.
In a statement, Teresa said, in part, “Today, I took responsibility for a series of mistakes I made several years ago. I have said throughout that I respect the legal process and thus I intend to address the court directly at sentencing. I will describe the choices I made, continue to take responsibility for my decisions, and express my remorse to Judge Salas and the public. I am heartbroken that this is affecting my family—especially my four young daughters, who mean more to me than anything in the world.”In a Q&E, Kim Kardashian revealed that Keeping up with the Kardashians now uses fake house exteriors. She said that her Beverly Hills home “was really my home & I would get people showing up at all hours ringing my gate & had to call the police on several occasions. … After that we realized how unsafe it is to show the exterior of our homes. So now we use different homes for the outside for security purposes. When we film inside, thats obviously our real home.Brooke Burke was fired from Dancing with the Stars over the phone, while driving. However, her blog post that reveals shows that she has a pretty incredible attitude about the whole thing.Juan Pablo was deemed “too risky” to be on Dancing with the Stars, E! News’ anonymous sources claim, because of the “negativity” surrounding his comments and two contestants’ decisions to leave the show. And that sounds like bullshit; it seems more likely that it’s the opposite, that he’s too boring. Then again, he just made fun of people with mental challenges and then blamed his “culture.” Of course.Spike’s upcoming To Catch a Contractor has already been sued for $2.8 million in damages; a family claims that contractors the show hired to fix problems caused by another contractor left them with respiratory infections from raw sewage that spilled into the walls.
Meanwhile, in a contractor discussion forum, a person who says they’re a neighbor to a family featured on the show claims the show fakes/stages footage with the original contractor so that person can be humiliated on camera.Trading Spaces carpenter and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition host will host a TNT cooking series, On the Menu, which features Emeril Lagasse. Mark Burnett executive produces the show which will give viewers the chance to eat contestants’ winning dishes every week. TNT describes it like this: “a group of passionate home cooks will be challenged to create a the next signature dish for that week’s selected restaurant chain, stadium concession stand, or other American food business.”Chopped host Ted Allen will host Food Network’s America’s Best Cook, in which contestants divided by region of the country will be mentored by Cat Cora, Tyler Florence, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Michael Symon.Former Scientologist and Dancing with the Stars contestant Leah Remini will be followed by cameras for a new TLC series.This is from the news, but it’s definitely my favorite reality moment from the past week:
Coming off two incredibly strong episodes, Survivor Cagayan delivered not quite as much suspense or surprise, but still a strong episode with lots of “what?!” moments. (Also, last night’s episode had some special meaning for me.)
Has miserable rain ever been more fun (well, for Woo, one of the few who embraced it: “This is what Survivor’s all about, baby!”)? Has miserable rain ever looked more gorgeous? Some of the shots even captured individual drops, and continued to provide evidence about Survivor’s enduring success: it’s just incredibly well-made. The music alone was worth the hour, especially Strauss’ “The Blue Danube” over the Brains’ tribe’s challenge practice session.
Also, its host makes sure the audience constantly understands the rules of the game, which is very helpful, especially when he repeats them five or six hundred times during the challenge, and then reminds the players of a key part of the challenge that they might have missed: “all you want to do is make sure you don’t finish last.” So, the point is to not lose? I’m so confused.
The Brains tribe is, as J’Tia said, channeling Probst, “a disaster, but it’s entertaining, so we’ll see what happens.” She’s a major part of that, of course, saying at one point, “I gotta have some rice.” Uh, maybe you should have thought of that before reenacting a scene from a previous season and dumping all your tribe’s food on the ground.
The Brains tribe did think to practice for the challenge, in that great sequence, but it didn’t seem to help them much, thanks to J’Tia, who has now firmly become one of those classic Survivor contestants whose bio and on-location performance are thoroughly and bafflingly mismatched.
But in a challenge designed by a member of the Dream Team, they pulled ahead, incredibly. They looked miserable in their happiness, like they didn’t know how to win.
There was a lot of setup about Tony and Sarah’s cop alliance, and I thoroughly expect he’ll be out in the next few weeks because of all the attention he and his overwrought cockiness have been getting.
The strategy talk at the Beauty tribe seemed to be about as logical as Jefra telling us about the “soaking wet water” and the “strategies I’ve never heard of.” (I think that might mean, roughly: I watched one of the DVDs casting gave me when I was recruited and thought we were just supposed to reenact that.)
Jeremiah, who apparently speaks, explained, “my may goal is to take over this try,” but LJ also thought that he was in control: “I have all the power.”
Then they went to Tribal Council and split their votes three ways, voting in two-person alliances. For this early in the game, with that small a tribe, it was a pretty astonishing vote. It was perhaps less surprising that Jeremiah changed his vote and they sent Brice home, yielding a fun exit speech from Brice who called himself the “cutest” and “most fashionable,” and said “I’m sure [Jeremiah] doesn’t really understand what happened” and was “surprised he could even spell my name.”
OWN previewed Lindsay, the new Lindsay Lohan documentary series produced by Amy Rice and Pilgrim Studios, tonight, and now has the trailer online—but only for 48 hours, until 9:35 p.m. ET Thursday!—because why let people continue to share and watch something when you can create scarcity and create an event around that.
Of course, their strategy worked, because here I am promoting it—and it’s a trailer worth promoting, which is why this show is on my list of 10 shows you must check out in March.
By the time Oprah tells Lindsay, “You need to cut the bullshit, you really do,” if you’re not sold on this show, please tell me why. I’m no fan of gossip blogs and tabloids chewing up celebrities, nor of celebrities behaving badly for attention. But this feels entirely different and new, two minutes and 16 seconds that give us a raw look at part of her life—never mind the fourth wall-breaking filming of the show itself. I can’t wait.
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A challenge from tomorrow night’s Survivor Cagayan, “Mazed and Confused,” wasn’t created by challenge producer John Kirhoffer, but instead was “designed, created, conceptualized from a Dream Teamer,” Jeff Probst explains in the preview below.
Dream Team members test and build challenges, work in the art department, and act as grips.
Part of the challenge has been used before, but the puzzle—which Kirhoffer says was created by Dream Teamer Nick—is definitely new and creative.
“Anything can happen,” Probst says. (No shit!)
In a twist that sounds more desperate than anything else, Dancing with the Stars will force its cast of celebrity contestants to switch professional partners mid-season based on viewer votes. The 18th season’s cast has been announced, and includes Olympians Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who will dance with pro partners, not each other. The show’s ratings have been declining in recent seasons, and so producers fired its co-host and band.
ABC calls the twist “The Switch Up” and says “America will be given the power to vote and change celebrities and professional dance pairings. This new rule will affect all couples as they will be required to switch partners at a point in the season. Never before have dance partnerships been split up during the course of competition.”
This sounds like it’ll definitely create drama—and work against one of the things that works best about the show, which is watching the relationship between the celebrity and pro develop over the season.
Here’s the cast:
- Pro hockey player Sean Avery with Karina Smirnoff
- Actor Candace Cameron Bure with Mark Ballas
- Comedian Drew Carey with Cheryl Burke
- Olympian Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
- Reality star Nene Leakes with Tony Dovolani
- Nickelodeon star James Maslow with Peta Murgatroyd
- Wonder Years star and math book author Danica McKellar with Valentin Chmerkovskiy
- Swimmer Diana Nyad with Henry Byalikov
- Paralympian Amy Purdy with Derek Hough
- Disney Channel star Cody Simpson with Witney Carson
- Olympian Charlie White with Sharna Burgess
- Billy Dee Williams with Emma Slater
With the Olympics out of the way, there’s some terrific reality TV coming in March among all the shows that will start airing or are debuting new seasons. These 10 are ones that I’m particularly looking forward to—some, because they’re fun and familiar, others because they’re new and raw.
Flipping Out, Bravo, March 5, Wednesdays at 10. One of the few shows left on Bravo worth watching, in part because it feels like it still captures reality instead of scripted nonsense acted out by a bunch of assholes. It’s definitely produced, focuses on drama, and is somewhat set-up (the team-building retreat in the clip below seems more like a producer’s idea than something they’d actually do). But Jeff is doing real work for real clients, Jenni is having a real baby, and Zoila is Zoila. In Jeff Lewis, Bravo found someone who is both authentic and dramatic on and off camera, and it usually works.
Chicagoland, CNN, March 6, Thursdays at 10. CNN is fast becoming a home for great reality television. Its newest series is executive produced by Robert Redford, but the names that matter even more are Marc Levin and Mark Benjamin, who produced Sundance’s great Brick City. Press materials and trailers say that it’ll follow Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, police superintendent Garry McCarthy, and high school principal Elizabeth Dozier, among others. But if Levin and Benjamin’s previous work is a guide, the show will come to life with less-well-known citizens of the city it profiles.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Fox, March 9, Sundays at 9; National Geographic Channel, March 10, Mondays at 10. Next Sunday, the sequel to the 1980 series will debut on 10 Fox-owned U.S. networks, and more than 200 Fox and NatGeo networks worldwide. Each episode will air on Fox and then repeat the next day on National Geographic. Carl Sagan’s wife, Ann Druyan, and the new host of the show, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, were unable to sell a sequel to the show until Seth MacFarlane—yes, the creator of Ted and Family Guy—got involved. Based on the original and the trailer, it will be both highly visual and epic in its score and scope. Fox describes its ambition like this: it’s “the saga of how we discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time,” with “”never-before-told stories of the heroic quest for knowledge, transporting viewers to new worlds and across the universe for a vision of the cosmos on the grandest — and the smallest — scale.”
Death Row Stories, CNN, March 9, Sundays at 9. Susan Sarandon narrates this series, and each of its one-off episodes “attempts to unravel the truth behind a different capital murder case.” It’s produced by Alex Gibney, the documentary filmmaker who directed last year’s Emmy-winning Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.
Chopped Tournament of Stars, Food Network, March 9, Sundays at 9. The Ted Allen-hosted competition is one of the networks few watchable and good reality series, and its special events are always great. This five-week series brings together celebrities who compete against similar people (actors, athletes, comedians, Food Network contestants), with the winners competing in an episode together.
Lindsay, OWN, March 9, Sundays at 10. I really don’t understand OWN’s publicity strategy for this series, which looks extraordinary. But with less than a week to air, the network has only released this tiny teaser, which is really just a teaser for a longer teaser that’ll air tomorrow night. The network showed an extended trailer to TV critics in January, and the footage was incredibly strong, from its access to Lindsay to a fourth wall-breaking conversation between Oprah and OWN’s president about Lindsay’s behavior while filming the series. I can’t wait.
The Freshman Class: Santa Cruz, Cooking Channel, March 11, Tuesdays at 8. If you missed The Freshman Class last summer, it’s time to get on board. (Also, you should watch it online, free). This reality series follows people enrolled in culinary school. Besides following them at school, this time at the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Program at Cabrillo College, there’s a strong focus on their personal lives. Bafflingly, there’s no trailer available for this season, here’s the first episode of last season:
The Real Housewives of New York City, Bravo, March 11, Tuesdays at 9. It’s ridiculous, dumb, and a whole lot of fun. (Why I love it so much. This is the one Housewives franchise I watch because, for me, it remains the best. Even as producers cast people and force them to interact, they’ve done a great job of finding a mix that is believable in their drama. The intro to this preview special is so absurd—Ramona saying “it’s turtle time”; Aviva saying, “I know they’re just pulling my leg”—that it seems to have already risen to even greater levels of ridiculousness. And I can’t wait.
Naked and Afraid, Discovery, March 16, Sundays at 9. One of last summer’s break-out series returns for a second season. It worked not because of the nudity gimmick, but because it was brutally real: survivalists being tested in new ways as they survived for three weeks in diverse environments. Here’s a clip from a season one episode:
Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge, Syfy, March 25, Tuesdays at 10. I am probably most excited about this competition, thanks to the first two words in its title. It looks very much like Face Off, and that’s not a bad thing (unless this series also features Mackenzie Westmore saying, “judges, why don’t you take a closer look?”). It’s hosted by Gigi Edgley and includes Brian Henson as one of the judges, and the work looks incredible.
The two documentary films that won Oscars last night are 20 Feet From Stardom and the short The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life. You can watch the nominees online or on demand, which I think should take less time than the telecast did.
The star of the latter, Alice Herz-Sommer, died last week at 110, the oldest living Holocaust survivor and oldest living pianist; director Malcolm Clarke’s short film follows the music teacher at age 109, sharing her philosophy about life. It will be distributed by Netflix, and is the company’s first Oscar (Netflix also produced documentary feature nominee The Square).
20 Feet From Stardom’s win resulted in an impromptu performance by Darlene Love. The Morgan Neville-directed film about back-up singers is watchable online. As Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir wrote, it is “one of those moving, tragic and triumphant secret histories of American culture where the biggest surprise is that no one’s told it before.”