A round-up of recent reality TV news, plus several fascinating reads.
News about reality stars
- Discovery Channel cancelled Sons of Guns two weeks after its star, Will Hayden, was arrested and charged with molesting a 12-year-old; he was later arrested again for aggravated rape of a child. His daughter told both police and Dr. Phil that she and her younger sister had been raped, with her sister being raped “almost daily” since age 11.
- Survivor Blood vs. Water cast member and former football player Brad Culpepper “is being sued by a California insurance company that claims he fabricated ailments and injuries while leading an active life as a mixed martial arts practitioner,” The Tampa Bay Times reports. He received $175,000 in workers compensation for being 89 percent disabled, but the insurance company is suing Brad, claiming he “is not disabled” and saying “Culpepper’s conduct was fraudulent, deceptive and designed to inflate the value of his claim.” His attorney said that the claims are an “exaggeration” and that his appearance on Survivor doesn’t prove anything. The paper has published the full lawsuit, which cites the fact that applying to Survivor included indicating that he was “excellent mental and physical health.”
- Eric Lynch, aka Eric the Actor, a frequent caller to the Howard Stern Show and a fan of American Idol, died Saturday at 39. TV Tattle has links to his first appearance on the show, which was a call defending Kelly Clarkson when Howard called her fat, plus his various cameos.
- Real World/Road Rules Challenge star Diem Brown had to have an emergency hysterectomy in August after collapsing on the set of a reality show. Diem almost died during that surgery, and now faces chemo and other treatment She now plans to have a family via a surrogate, and earlier told People, “I can’t think about how long this journey is. I have to think about the fact that I’m here. The fact that I flatlined still boggles my mind. I wasn’t here. I’m very grateful that I am. … The journey is so worth it, because living and being alive is more than a cliché. It’s the truth that life is a gift, and your support system is such a huge component of recovery when you feel your spirit wane.”
- A man is suing Cold Justice for suggesting he was still a suspect in a murder; Joshua Singletary’s lawsuit claims the episode leaves viewers with the “unmistakable impression with the audience that (Singletary) is the killer.” His lawyer said, “The television production turned up no new evidence, and to have characterized Mr. Singletary the way they did caused him immeasurable damage,” including the loss of clients and his apartment.
- Top Chef‘s Bryan Voltaggio pled guilty to DUI related to a June arrest; The Washington Post reports he “was sentenced to probation before judgment, an alternative to a conviction in which there’s a period of probation after which the defendant may expunge the matter from his record.”
- Aviva Drescher was fired from The Real Housewives of New York City, while Ramona Singer, who previously announced the end of her marriage with Mario, was demoted to “recurring friend” on the Bravo series.
- Regarding Aviva Drescher’s totally obviously pre-planned leg stunt, Heather Thomson says “it was planned by Aviva” and added “she was going to go after Bravo for a little bit more money.”
- Honey Boo Boo‘s parents, Mama June and Sugar Bear, separated despite having just gotten married in May. In a statement, June said, “Sugar Bear and I have decided to take some time apart to figure out some things in our relationship. We are taking things day by day, but regardless of what happens, the girls will always be our number one priority. We want to thank y’all for your support.”
- Laverne Cox, one of the stars of Orange is the New Black, will host an Oct. 17 MTV documentary that follows seven transgender people ages 12 to 24. It’s called Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word
- An argument that the next Bachelor, Chris Soules, “will be the most boring ever” despite being “friendly, and definitely cheesy enough for the franchise.”
- Jeff Probst insists that, during Survivor: The Australian Outback, “Every guy on the crew fell in love with her. Every guy. We watched this young girl mature into this fighting phenomenon, and everybody wanted to date her. They thought about marrying Elisabeth. It was all in our fantasies.” Yep, that’s right, every guy.
Other reality TV news
- Thie summer, the Nonfiction Producers Association was formed to “provide industry information, training and assistance to production companies, their staffs, and production employees, and promote “best practices” that ensure production employees, independent contractors, vendors and other stakeholders have a voice and platform for meaningful discourse that can encourage and contribute to the continued success and welfare of all parties within the nonfiction television industry.” It has continued to add production companies as members.
- Discovery Communications shook up its network executives: Eileen O’Neil, who previously oversaw the Discovery, Science, and Velocity channels, is now the president of Discovery Studios. Marjorie Kaplan, who earlier this year took control of TLC from O’Neill in addition to running Animal Planet, was promoted to iterim president of Discovery Channel.
- Docurama, which previous streamed 600+ documentaries to Roku and Xbox app, is now a free iOS app, too.
- The Dating Naked wedding was not actually a legally binding wedding.
- Lizzy Caplan, star of Showtime’s Master of Sex, told The New York Times that she’s a fan of The Real Housewives and said, “I find reality television to be so delectable. I cannot even fully express how much it means to me. … It’s this idea of taking a somewhat normal human being and then putting them on this frying pan of fame. In real time, you can watch fame ruin somebody and makes them go insane.
- When a PrideSource interviewer told Bill Hader–who played Stefon on SNL, among other characters–that a new character’s lip-syncing “would make everyone on RuPaul’s Drag Race so proud,” Hader said, “You have to get me on that show! That would just be the best.”
Fascinating long(er) reads
- A profile of Clay Aiken on the campaign trail, where crazy fans still cling to him and Ruben Studdard and Fantasia Barrino appear at a fundraiser for him. The Washington Post’s story finds that Clay not only knows his stuff, but he’s “an incredibly good listener.”
- Nat Geo Wild’s GM Geoff Daniels told i09 that having the National Geographic brand means “that we have a responsibility to figure out how to make authentic science in all of its different guises entertaining, relevant, real, relatable, resonant with a broad audience…and not chase, if you will, the lowest common denominator. Because while we too have a commercial imperative, we need ratings, we need to make revenue like everybody else in the world, but we do also have this mission.” Ahem, Discovery.
- Mike Rowe responded to several people asking him about Shark Week’s fiction with an awesome story about the reality of reality television.
- The AVClub’s list of 15 documentaries 15 documentaries that switched course during filming is enlightening and, for me, added several documentaries to the list of those I need to see–especially My Kid Could Paint That, which looks fascinating.
Update, Sept. 23: The word “a” was added to the headline to make it clear that a Survivor cast member, not the show, was being accused of fraud. I intended “Survivor” to to be headline shorthand for “a Survivor contestant,” and did not realize how some were reading it. I regret any confusion.