Happy Friday! This reality TV news and longread round-up starts with three must-read pieces, followed by links to dozens of other news stories from the past few weeks that I’ve curated and categorized.
Real Housewives of New York City star Bethenny Frankel used her wealth and celebrity to help people in need in Puerto Rico, which is still devastated from the hurricane. “This is a forgotten island. People have been living on their roofs for 13 days. It is like nothing I have ever seen,” she said recently.
Bethenny initially chartered four planes that People reports contained “more than 20,000 lbs. of donated medical and survival supplies,” including meals and more than $50,000 in cash and gift cards.
That was funded by Bethenny herself and donations to her charity. And while the actual supplies helped, so does her celebrity, as the trip has been getting attention in celebrity magazines, bringing Puerto Ricans’ stories.
And it’s just the most recent example of her charity this fall, which has included helping victims of the Mexico City earthquake, Houston hurricane flooding, and hurricane-damaged parts of Florida. And she’s pledging more help for other places.
Bethenny recently tweeted, “I want nor deserve nothing. I lit a match. This is simply my exact skill set & I will complete this mission.”
Meet Lynn Novick (The Washington Post)
“The ‘Vietnam War’ co-director has been making movies with Ken Burns for decades. Why is only one of them famous?” That’s the subtitle on Alyssa Rosenberg’s profile of Lynn Novick, which explores the work Novick has done for the documentaries she’s co-directed with Ken Burns since 1998.
For example, Novick, not burns, went to Vietnam for The Vietnam War, and she conducts most interviews for their films, which include Prohibition and The War.
In the profile, Novick says, “Ken has been very generous. He is a larger-than-life force in our society. It requires some work to open that up a little bit. … It feels really great to be able to talk about it together in that way, and for the world to understand my role a little bit better.”
Three-time Survivor contestant Malcolm Freberg’s piece is about how diet affects a contestant’s time on Survivor, but it’s so much funnier and more joyful than that. It’s a must-read piece.
It’s fully of wry observations about everything from fan culture (“half-savvy fans” may be my new favorite phrase) to the pressure of looking good on television (“wearing an inner tube of blubber around your waist on national television isn’t how one makes their exes jealous”).
news about sexual harassment
- More than five women said they were sexually harassed by Mark Halperin, one of the stars of Showtime’s The Circus, which occurred when they all worked at ABC News. As a result, MSNBC and NBC news have dismissed him as a contributor. Halperin said in a statement, “I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me. I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize.” (CNN) Showtime said in a statement “We are aware of these reports and will continue to evaluate all options should we decide to move forward with another season of The Circus. There is no tolerance for sexual harassment within Showtime and its production.” (Deadline)
- John Besh, who’s appeared on many reality series, including Top Chef Masters and The Next Iron Chef, and who hosted Hungry Investors and is featured on the upcoming Iron Chef Throwdown, has left his restaurants after more than 25 women said “they were victims of sexual harassment while working at [Besh Restaurant Group] or at a number of its restaurants.” Besh responded in a statement, admitting to “a consensual relationship with one member of my team” and “moral failings.” (Times-Picayune)
- The Apprentice 5 contestant Summer Zervos—who is is suing Donald Trump for defamation, which may have wide-reaching impact—has subpoenaed Trump regarding information about “any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately.” (BuzzFeed)
reality TV show news
- The house and grounds used for the production of The Great British Bake Off seasons three and four, Harptree Court, is for sale. It’s $6.6 million and located in Bristol. (Food & Wine)
- Alicia Keys is returning to The Voice to coach alongside Kelly Clarkson for season 14 this spring. (YouTube)
- PBS’ The Vietnam War was watched by an average of 9.6 million viewers, with 11.9 million people watching the premiere within one week of its broadcast, making it “PBS’ highest-rated telecast of the Nielsen 2016-17 broadcast season and the best performing since the series finale” in 2016 of Downton Abbey. PBS also said that the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary’s “first episode has been streamed over two million times to date, making it the most-streamed series premiere in PBS history.” You can still watch at PBS.org.
- Models of the Runway, the two-season Lifetime series that followed Project Runway models, and the model competition that was part of early seasons of Runway, both originated with Harvey Weinstein‘s desire for a show about models, and producers and executives were “[f]earful of Weinstein’s reaction.” That’s part of an L.A. Times investigation that found “nearly a dozen people with ties to the industry — including models, casting directors, publicists and executives connected to Project Runway — said that he used fashion as a pipeline to women. They said that models, oftentimes young and working overseas far from home, were particularly vulnerable.” (L.A. Times)
- The Netflix documentary The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, which is about the trans activist and was directed by David France, premiered Oct. 6. The director of the upcoming crowdfunded documentary Happy Birthday Marsha!, Reina Gossett, wrote an essay and says that she “applied for a grant to at least one of the same foundations that France, a white cisgender gay man, had applied to, but it was his film that got funding and not ours.” Gossett also wrote on Instagram that France made money “off our lives and ideas” and “ripped off decades of my archival research that i experienced so much violence to get.” France responded, writing that his “creative work builds on theirs. But it is it’s own,” and says “It is wrong that our projects have not received equal attention.” (Teen Vogue)
- Both Fox and Critical Content apologized for using the wrong person’s photo in Who Shot Biggie & Tupac? The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department previously said in a statement, “The program incorrectly portrayed the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and its employee, Steven D. Katz, as being involved with the investigation into the death of Wallace. The segment defamed Katz by repeatedly showing his photograph and expressing through graphics, an indication of ‘disgrace and outrage’ into the handling of the case.” (Deadline)
- The first three seasons of Running Wild With Bear Grylls will repeat on National Geographic Channel, starting Oct. 26; the network bought exclusive syndication rights from NBCUniversal.
- Vice is casting for a show that sounds like a politically charged version of The Real World. (THR)
- Masterchef Junior is bringing back Joe Bastianich as a permanent judge for its sixth season next year.
- What did Amazon get for the $200 million it spent on The Grand Tour? Google Trends data shows that there’s less consistently less interest in it than in Top Gear. And that’s the good news. (Decider)
- X Factor “is past its peak with recent winners barely making it into the top 10 of the UK Singles Charts, according to Telegraph analysis.” (The Telegraph)
- Kris Jenner talks about Keeping Up with the Kardashians reaching its 10-year anniversary, and answers questions about future spin-offs, why they keep doing the show, and if it’ll ever end. Spoiler: it doesn’t seem like the end is anywhere in sight. (Variety)
reality star news
- Mark Cuban is considering running for president, but he also said there’s only a 10 percent chance he’ll run. He said, “Based off what’s happening in the White House, based off what’s happening in the country and the world, we need better leadership. And I think I could do a better job. But there’s a lot more to it than just thinking you can do a better job, and so I’m not ready to make the commitment.” (CNBC)
- Bobby Flay wore a “This is My Last Iron Chef Battle Ever” t-shirt on Iron Chef Throwdown this summer, which annoyed producers. After Allen Salkin wrote about that for Vanity Fair, adding that “reveals a larger set of tensions” such as Flay’s “apparent lack of interest in remaining part of Iron Chef,” Bobby Flay responded, saying “it was probably not the best decision because it’s just creating confusion” and he’ll return to Iron Chef “whenever my schedule allows.” (Vanity Fair)
Andy Cohen is taking Kathy Griffin’s place as co-host of Anderson Cooper’s New Year’s Eve show on CNN. (TVNewser)
- Facts of Life star Mindy Cohn found friendship and a place to heal during treatment for breast cancer at the farmhouse owned by Fabulous Beekman Boys stars Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge. She’s now in remission and says, “I could get away from everything going on in L.A., and just focus on getting better. This was my spot. And I think I was able to heal here, because it was away from everything.” (People)
- Duggar family members cannot sue In Touch Weekly over publication of documents related to Josh Duggar’s sexual abuse of his siblings. A judge said that the magazine could publish the information “since it was disclosed by public entities” and “cannot be held liable for the city’s and county’s failure to follow the law.” (Courthouse News)
- Jason Hoppy, Bethenny Frankel’s ex-husband, “took a deal Monday to dismiss charges he stalked and harassed” Bethenny, which became part of the most recent season of The Real Housewives of New York City. (New York Daily News)
- Kim Zolciak-Biermann says she has hired a lawyer as a result of NeNe Leakes referring to Kim in hashtags as “racist trash” and KKK—a response to a video Kim posted of a cockroach she said was at NeNe’s house. (E! News)
- Steven Avery, the subject of Making a Murderer, was denied a new trial, but his lawyer is appealing. (Appleton Post-Crescent)
- Teresa Giudice says Joe watches RHONJ from prison. (Fansided)
- Bear Grylls is starting his own adventure race, with themed survival challenges, of course. It’s described as “a 4-mile outdoor competitive survival experience, inspired by the wild encounters and well-honed skills of the ultimate survival authority,” and it takes place on a movie ranch outside L.A. on April 28 and 29, 2018. (Bear Grylls Survival Challenge)
- Miley Cyrus said on The Late Show with James Corden that she is a “fucking shit driver” and recently “backed my car into the sound trailer” at The Voice‘s set. (Buzzfeed)
- Little People, Big World star Matt Roloff has written a children’s book, which was inspired by his time recovering from spinal surgery, when a press release says “Matt was reminded of his childhood spent in hospitals and how important faith, encouragement, positivity, and hope were to him at that time.” Little Lucy, Big Race will be released Oct. 1.
- Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt have a child: Gunner Stone. (E! News)
- The Bachelorette Australia cast member Apollo Jackson acted in Thor: Ragnarok as The Hulk’s double and as a gladiator. (Gold Coast Bulletin)
- RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2 winner Alaska Thunderfuck released this music video mocking Drag Race cast member Valentina.
reality TV industry news
- Face Off seasons one through 10 will be on Hulu in 2018 as part of a deal with NBCUniversal. Also going to Hulu: Parenthood and 30 Rock.
- Amazon’s reality TV executive, Conrad Riggs, has been fired. He once was Mark Burnett’s producing partner on Survivor and Apprentice; Deadline notes that, at Amazon, “[t]here had been a lot of rumblings Riggs too was on shaky ground, with sources in TV circles complaining about his management style.” (Deadline)
- Amazon promoted Heather Schuster to be head of its unscripted division. She previously worked with Conrad Riggs as a producer on The Apprentice, and worked at Reveille/Shine America and Ryan Seacrest Productions. (Deadline)
- Sean Penn’s lawyer told Netflix it is “hereby on notice that blood will be on their hands if this film causes bodily harm.” That film is the documentary The Day I Met El Chapo: The Kate del Castillo Story, which Penn’s spokesman said includes a “profoundly false, foolish, and reckless narrative,” and adds that “Mr. Penn or anyone on his behalf alerted D.O.J. to the trip is a complete fabrication and baldfaced lie.” (New York Times)
- The News and Documentary Emmy Awards were presented in early October. The full list of winners includes multiple documentaries that aired on PBS’ Independent Lens (four), POV (one), and Frontline (three), plus two HBO documentaries and one National Geographic doc. (Emmys)
- Reality TV “appeals to the worst of our instincts,” Ricky Gervais said, saying “It’s aimed to appeal at our voyeuristic tendencies, and we’re all guilty of it. He cited two shows specifically in his Oxford Union talk: “From X Factor in the preliminary rounds when they wheel out the mentally ill to be sniggered at by millionaires, we’re a part of that. People having proper nervous breakdowns in Big Brother, we’re all part of that. That’s what drama is, when it’s real, it’s conflict.” (Mirror)