During production of Charm School, the Los Angeles Times stopped by to talk to executive producers Mark Cronin and Cris Abrego, who are responsible for most of VH1’s reality programming, from The Surreal Life to the 72,125 Flavor Flav-related series.
The paper notes that some “criticize their shows as being racially offensive” and “perpetuate racial stereotypes,” but reports that the producers say “their shows, which feature interracial couplings, actually celebrate multiculturalism.”
Mark Cronin, most recently seen on television trying to pull a drum out of Vanilla Ice’s hands as the rapper trashed the set of The Surreal Life Fame Games, said, “We’re being responsible. And we’re a lot more inclusive than ‘he Bachelor’ or ‘he Bachelorette,’ which don’t have any diversity. It’s just not realistic.”
Cris Abrego says that besides that, they have invented a new sub-genre: “We really brought comedy to reality.” He also admits to manufacturing drama. “It’s important for us to have strong story lines as we create the conflict,” he said.
During production of the shows, the LA Times says, “Abrego focuses on channeling intriguing story lines for the personalities while Cronin searches for how to create humor.” And both basically get off on what they produce. As they watch footage being shot in another room for Charm School, it’s almost too much for them:
“Look at her, she’s about to lose it,” said Cronin with barely restrained glee. Abrego nodded in agreement: “Yeah, she’s going to start crying any minute.”