Here’s your semi-regular curated list of recent-ish news and longer pieces about reality TV and unscripted entertainment. If I’ve missed a story, or you know about something, please send a link or a tip!
Unscripted Producers Feel Squeeze of Growing Expenses, Reduced Pay (Variety)
A story I missed in January but Michael Schneider’s story is a must-read: it’s based on a survey of reality TV producers, and reports on the challenges involved in the network-producer relationship. That includes networks wanting to retain more rights and share less of the profit with producers. Of particular interest: the “dozens of producers” surveyed named the best and worst networks to work with. The results, with some comments made by producers and reported by Variety:
“Best networks/buyers to deal with”, according to surveyed producers
2. ABC (“passionate, fair, and respectful”)
3. tie: FYI and Lifetime (“easy to produce for and get deals done quickly”)
5. tie: History and TLC
The worst/”most difficult”
1. tie: Amazon (“no understanding of the business” and “unresponsive”) and Spike (“know-it-all”)
2. Discovery (“harder to make a deal with”)
3. tie: MTV (“frustrating and confounding from a development point of view, and challenging when it comes to production”) and WE tv (“unreasonable on budgets,” “over-demanding,” and “crazy executives”).
After the Final Rose With TV’s Bachelawyers (The Ringer)
Why are there so many lawyers on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, and does being on the show hurt their careers? The Ringer’s Ben Lindbergh explores.
Why You Were Told To Pack Your Knives And Go on Top Chef (Medium)
A wonderful list, by Ed Casey, of all reasons why Top Chef cheftestants get cut.
The Lost Memoir of One of America’s Most Infamous Murders (Wall Street Journal)
Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood—which tells the story of the murder of the Clutter family in their Kansas farmhouse—is one of the most famous works of entertainment based on reality. But as Kevin Helliker reports, one of the two killers, Richard Hickock, wrote his own book, a book and story that both Capote and Kansas officials didn’t want to be published. It wasn’t.
Reality show and industry news
- The Daytime Emmy awards were announced, and among the nominees for Outstanding Culinary Program were Amazon’s Eat the World with Emeril Lagassee, which had five nominations; PBS’ The Mind of a Chef, which also had five nominations; and Food Network’s Guy’s Big Bite and Trisha’s Southern Kitchen. (Emmys)
- The 10 remaining contestants on Channel 4’s Eden—which was similar to Fox’s Utopia in that it left people to create a society by themselves for a year—finished their time on the show, only to learn that it hadn’t aired an episode in seven months. Only four episodes aired. A Channel 4 spokesperson told The Press and Journal, “The appeal of Eden is that it was a real experiment and when filming began we had no idea what the results would be and how those taking part would react to being isolated for months in a remote part of the British Isles. That’s why we did it and the story of their time, including the highs and the lows, will be shown later this year.” (The Press and Journal)
- Planet Earth producer Mike Gunton discusses one of the challenges of filming the series: “One of my colleagues was saying how disheartening it is to drive through mile after mile after mile of oil plantation to get to a piece of remaining forest to do your filming, where there’s a small population of that particular animal left. I think there’s a lot of wilderness still there, but it’s just harder and harder to get to.” (Salon)
- Jukin Media—the company that acquires and licenses video content that regular people post online, the kind you might see on Ellen or on a clip show—has partnered with MGM Television to produce reality shows that will feature user-generated content. But they won’t be clip shows. (Deadline) Also: Listen to a Jukin executive, Josh Entman, talk about how their fascinating business works. (Reality of Reality podcast)
- Do spoilers help or hurt our enjoyment of reality TV? An associate professor at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Bill Levine, has studied them, using short stories as a stand-in for TV shows. (The Chronicle)
- The Real Housewives are going on tour: The Real Housewives Live – Uncensored and Unapologetic starts in April, and features Cynthia Bailey, Kandi Burruss, Kenya Moore, Dorinda Medley, and Sonja Morgan. (Real Housewives Live)
- Mythbusters: The Search, a wonderful show and an absurd competition, chose two new Mythbusters, both men, from its final four: Brian Louden and Jonathan Lung. There’s no word from Science Channel about when their version of Mythbusters will debut. I say skip that and just air more Mythbusters: The Search, except without eliminations—just teams competing to see who can come up with the most creative and effective build.
Reality TV star news
- Mario Lopez is going to host CBS’ Candy Crush game show. (CBS)
- Cat Deeely used social media to rant about problems at a restaurant, and her server posted her receipt, which showed she’d been comped $123—yet she still left a $0 tip. This led to a Twitter debate about tipping, into which I jumped momentarily. (People)
- Jon Gosselin now wonders about the effects Jon & Kate Plus Eight on his kids: “I love my kids and I am happy they are financially taken care of, but who knows what the aftermath of filming or being famous will affect them as young adults,” he said. “It’s a tough battle growing up today. Is money and fame for the better or worse? These are the things I struggle with as a parent and the decisions I made for them and still have to make today, we all have to make major decisions as parents but as long as we love our children, I believe we can work in the best interest for them. Knowing what I know now, knowing how much more educated I am, with [how] much more mature I have become, I would probably change a few things.” (In Touch)
- Another person featured on Catfish has died: Robert Brian Clark, who was featured in season two as “Brian”—a man who turned out to not be not catfishing the woman he was talking to online—died in a motorcycle accident. (MTV)
- Judge Joseph Wapner—the original The People’s Court judge, and the original TV judge—died at age 97. The show’s executive producer, Stu Billett, said in a statement, “Simply put, if Judge Joseph Wapner were not as good of a judge as he turned out to be, there would be no reality court show business today. Therefore everyone connected to television court shows, from “The People’s Court” to “Judge Judy” should take a moment today to give thanks and reflect.”
- Married at First Sight couple Sonia Granados and Nick are getting divorced. They said in a join statement, “We look forward to growing and continuing about ourselves from what we still consider to be a meaningful experience with MAFS.” That leaves one couple from season four still married, and two couples from season one—three surviving marriages of the 12 couples who were married on the show. (Twitter)
- “Caitlyn Jenner is not joining The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” Andy Cohen said. (Bravo)
- Rehab Addict star Nicole Curtis has been sued by the city of Minneapolis over a house she bought from the city for $2, claiming she “failed to redevelop the property” within a year, as agreed. (Minneapolis StarTribune)
- Deadliest Catch star Sig Hansen has been sued by his estranged daughter, Melissa Eckstrom, 28, for abusing her as a child. Hansen was arrested but not charged in 1990, when the prosecutor wrote in a letter, “the information at hand suggests that Mr. Hansen has acted in a sexually inappropriate manner toward Melissa.” Hansen said, “It’s a completely frivolous lawsuit full of lies that my ex-wife made up to take away my daughter, and still uses to try to extort money from me. It’s blackmail.” (The Seattle Times)
- Lindsay Lohan is shopping The Anti-Social Network, a prank series on which Lindsay will “highjack your social media.” (Dose)
- Top Chef California‘s Kwame Onwuachi talked to The Ringer about his D.C. restaurant, Shaw Bijou, which opened and then closed after just 2.5 months. Part of the problem: dinner for one could cost $500. (The Ringer)
- Tyra Banks says that before season 8 of Top Model, she “brought a different person to the network, met with them, and said, ‘This is the person I want to take the reins of this show.'” Her lawyer talked her out of giving up the host job. (EW)