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Three reality star profiles and 24 reality TV news stories

Three reality star profiles and 24 reality TV news stories
How did the President of the United States, Barack Obama, end up on a CNN reality show? A profile of Anthony Bourdain has the answer. (Photo by CNN)

Happy Friday. Here’s a round-up of recent reality show news that caught my attention, and three longreads, all of which are profiles of reality TV stars: one future star, one long-time TV personality, and one who’s now dead.

How Anna Nicole Smith Became America’s Punchline, BuzzFeed

In this profile and look at Anna Nicole’s life, Sarah Marshall asks, “Was she just another model, another B-lister, another early casualty of reality TV? Or did she show us something about ourselves, about our country, that frightened us more deeply than we could ever admit?”


The Purely Accidental Lessons Of The First Black ‘Bachelorette’, NPR

Okay, this isn’t exactly a profile, but it is a deep dive into the meaning of Rachel’s historic casting as the star of the next Bachelorette. In it, NPR and Pop Culture Happy Hour’s Linda Holmes makes a compelling argument for 1) taking The Bachelor seriously, and 2) The real thing we should pay attention to: “Whom will they offer her as candidates?”

After reading this People story, I’m worried they’re prepping us for mostly white suitors, but ABC reality executive Rob Mills told Indiewire, “You’re going to see a very diverse cast, more diverse than we’ve seen from an African-American perspective.”


Anthony Bourdain’s Moveable Feast, The New Yorker

The New Yorker profiles Anthony Bourdain, and it’s as in-depth as you’d expect from the magazine, with detailed accounts of Bourdain getting “food fucked” by people, his experience eating in Vietnam with President Obama, and his training in jujitsu.

reality TV star news

  1. Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary is one of more than a dozen candidates running for the leadership of the Conservative party in Canada. (Global News) He told one crowd he’s socially liberal, saying, “LGBTQI done, marijuana done, reproductive rights 100 percent. Get used to it, that is the definition of the Conservative Party of Canada going forward.” (iPolitics)
  2. During The New Celebrity Apprentice, winner Matt Iseman, who’s the co-host of NBC’s American Ninja Warrior, raised a total of $923,000 for the Arthritis Foundation, including $573,329 during the final task. (As he discussed on the show and during the finale, he has rheumatoid arthritis.) Boy George raised $445,925 for Safe Kids Worldwide. (NBC press release)
  3. Although Flip or Flop stars Christina and Tarek El Moussa are divorcing, Christina said they will continue working together on HGTV: “We have so much fun on set and we look forward to continuing the show. We met at work so we worked together before we ever started dating.” (Good Morning America)
  4. White House communications official Omarosa Manigault “got into a heated argument with a White House reporter just steps from the Oval Office last week” and “made verbal threats, including the assertion that [April] Ryan was among several journalists on whom Trump officials had collected ‘dossiers’ of negative information.” Omarosa denied it this by emulating her boss and e-mailing “My comment: Fake news!” In other words: it was news she didn’t like. (Washington Post)
  5. The Real World Boston’s Sean Duffy “demonstrated a stunning lack of self-awareness” on CNN when he dismissed terrorist attacks by white people as “one-off” incidents. (Fusion)
  6. Chrisley Knows Best star Todd Chrisley, whose daughter Savannah is recovering from a car accident, was accused by an Atlanta TV station of failing to pay Georgia taxes when he lived there: “Chrisley did not file Georgia state income taxes for any of the eight years they saw his returns.” (WSB-TV)
  7. Todd also recently responded to people who think he’s gay by saying, “In order for it to disappoint me, it would mean that I don’t agree with someone being gay. I don’t believe that’s a choice that you make. I believe that you are the way that God has made you. I’m flattered that people think I can get laid on both ends. So, that doesn’t bother me. And my wife certainly is flattered that as many men want her husband as there are women. With that being said, I’m never going to have a drought. You, on the other hand, might. But Todd will never have a drought.” (Us Weekly)
  8. The 16-year-old star of I Am Jazz, Jazz Jennings, is the model for the first-ever transgender doll, produced by the Tonner Doll Company. The TLC series is well-intentioned but overproduced to the point of artificiality, so the doll may be more like Jazz than the TV show version. (Tonner Doll Company press release)
  9. Will Danielle Staub return to The Real Housewives of New Jersey? (Us Weekly) Or is this just Us Weekly’s version of Danielle’s Twitter campaign to be re-cast? (Jezebel)
  10. Steve Avery investigator Tom Fassbender will talk about his interrogation of Brendan Dassey on Dateline this Friday. Despite actual footage of the interrogation that was included in Making a Murderer, Fassbender insists, “We didn’t try to manipulate Brendan. We tried to get at the truth, and I don’t believe that it was a false confession. Are there parts of it that he may have not done, I don’t know. You know, I just don’t know.” Brendan Dassey’s murder conviction was overturned because of the interrogation. (Dateline)


news about reality shows and the reality industry

  1. MTV is creating an all-star version of its show Are You The One?, even though that show is already feeding its all-star show The Challenge. It’s called Are You The One: All-Star Challenge, and on it, “10 fan-favorite perfect matches from previous seasons” “will compete in challenges designed to test the strength of their bonds,” according to the network. (MTV press release)
  2. The Curse of Oak Island‘s fourth season finale was the show’s highest-rated episode yet, with 3.8 million viewers and 1.6 million adults ages 25 to 54. (History Channel press release)
  3. The premiere of Planet Earth II was BBC America’s “most watched unscripted telecast ever in total viewers,” the network said, noting that it had 2.7 million viewers across three networks. (BBC America press release)
  4. Planet Earth II is now airing, and BBC America announced that Blue Planet II will be next. David Attenborough will narrate. BBC America’s president Sarah Barnett said in a press release that “this is a remarkable and relevant sequel—this time plunging us into an awe inspiring trip into our planet’s oceans—that will stand out as rare and extraordinary, even in today’s superlative TV landscape.” (BBC America press release)
  5. ABC is already casting for a second season of The Toy Box, its Mattel-sponsored, Shark Tank-like series that debuts in April. (MysticArt Pictures)
  6. The New Celebrity Apprentice‘s finale ratings were down 47 percent from the final Donald Trump season. The fact that NBC scheduled the show against The Bachelor and aired a flat, lifeless, pre-taped finale couldn’t have helped. (Variety)
  7. Lifetime’s Bring It!, which follows the hip-hop majorette Dancing Dolls troupe, spawned a sold-out tour last year, which returns this year. Tickets are now on sale for the 40-city summer tour. (Bring It! Live)
  8. The house featured on the season, maybe series, finale of Hoarders, the Julian Price house, will be open to the public for tours briefly this May. (News & Record)
  9. Fox is bringing in a new reality TV executive: Rob Wade, who was previously showrunner for Dancing with the Stars and who lead TV at Simon Cowell’s production company, where he executive produced The X Factor and America’s Got Talent. Fox’s current reality executive, Corie Henson, will report to Wade. (Fox press release)
  10. Details about the complicated 19 Entertainment bankruptcy proceedings, which relate to the eventual return of American Idol. (Deadline)
  11. Viacom announced this week that Spike will be turned into The Paramount Network, which will become one of Viacom’s six priorities along with MTV, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and Nick Jr. (RealScreen)
  12. What does that mean for Logo and VH1, Viacom’s smaller networks? The person who runs those networks, MTV president Chris McCarthy, said that “nothing changes” for either small network. VH1, he said, is “incredibly powerful and continues to take more share and keep engaging the audience and talent,” and regarding Logo, said, “For its size, it has an outside share of the audience. There’s no denying that we wish it had more distribution, but I think there’s some reality to the fact that it doesn’t.” He also said—and this is good news for Logo experiments like this—that “we’re going to take advantage of those great assets and see how we can’t get them a bigger platform with MTV and VH1, in terms of how we showcase that content.” (Hollywood Reporter)
  13. Following that announcement, Spike’s Sharon Levy, who’s been at the network for 12 years and is in charge of programming, announced she was leaving. In her departure memo, she wrote, “I will be here for the next couple of weeks helping keep the trains on the tracks and gearing up for the exciting launch of my personal favorite project, “Time:  The Kalief Browder Story.” (Hollywood Reporter)
  14. Taking her place, essentially, at old Spike/new Paramount Network is Keith Cox, who comes from TV Land but long ago was The WB’s reality executive, “where he oversaw all of the network’s half-hour and reality development of such hits as Ashton Kutcher’s Beauty and the Geek and 51 Minds’ Surreal Life,” according to his bio. (Viacom press release)

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


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