reality TV reviews and news

48 stories about reality shows and stars, including 10 about sexual misconduct

Johnny Iuzzini, a judge on the Great American Baking Show, who's been accused of sexual misconduct by four former employees at Jean-Georges. (Photo by Mark Bourdillion/ABC)

Today’s round-up of reality TV-related news stories ranges from Trading Spaces to Making a Murderer. But it leads with 10 stories about sexual harassment and assault.

sexual harassment and assault news

  1. The Great American Baking Show judge and former Top Chef Just Desserts judge Johnny Iuzzini was accused of sexually harassing four employees when they worked at Jean-Georges, a restaurant in New York City that he left in 2011. The women “alleged that Iuzzini was often verbally abusive and prone to screaming,” Mic reported, and one said he “had a habit of touching female employees’ rear ends with items in the kitchen” and would “creep up behind women menacingly.” Iuzzini said in a statement that he is “shattered and heartbroken at the thought that any of my actions left members of my team feeling hurt or degraded,and while he said some “allegations are inaccurate, others I do not recall and none were meant to hurt people. Nonetheless, I must take responsibility if any of the members of my team felt uncomfortable by my words or actions, regardless of my intent or recollection.” (Mic)
  2. Four women allege that The Chew co-host and chef Mario “Batali touched them inappropriately in a pattern of behavior that appears to span at least two decades,” Eater reported. He’s left The Chew and the restaurant company that he owns with MasterChef judge Joe Bastianich, though it’s not clear if those are permanent exits. Batali said in a statement, “I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt.” (Eater)
  3. Top Chef‘s head judge Tom Colicchio wrote “An Open Letter to (Male) Chefs” in which he discusses the “rampant harassment in the restaurant industry,” addressing his fellow chefs and saying “It’s time that chefs and restaurant owners candidly acknowledge the larger culture that hatched all these crummy eggs, and have some hard conversations amongst ourselves that are long overdue.” (Medium)
  4. One of the “19 women who accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct,” former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos, is suing Trump for defamation, and in court last week, lawyers for the president argued that he can’t be tried in state court while president. (Reuters)
  5. Last year, Donald Trump said that it was just “locker room talk” when he bragged to Billy Bush about being able to grab women “by the pussy” because of his fame, which was caught on tape during filming for Access Hollywood years earlier. Now, Trump told an unnamed senator that it wasn’t him: “We don’t think that was my voice.” The New York Times reports that this is “part of his lifelong habit of attempting to create and sell his own version of reality. Advisers say he continues to privately harbor a handful of conspiracy theories that have no grounding in fact.” (New York Times)
  6. The Voice season three contestant Melanie Martinez was accused of sexual assault by her best friend, Timothy Heller, who said she didn’t want wrote on social media that “accepting that my best friend raped me seems insane” and added that “I never said yes. I said no, repeatedly. But she used her power over me, and broke me down. Just so there is no confusion, I was molested by my best friend.” Martinez responded and said she was “horrified and saddened by the statements and story” and said of Heller, “She never said no to what we chose to do together.” (CNN and Newsweek)
  7. Vice Media documentary films executive producer Jason Mojica was suspended after a Daily Beast report about “harassing behavior and company indifference” at Vice. (Variety)
  8. Kaj Larsen, co-host of The Runner, who previously worked for Vice, inappropriately touched a former female co-worker at Vice, she said. And that “hostility due to sexism, racism, religionism, ageism, idk-what-ism makes us feel not only uncomfortable, but unsafe and just plain dirty” was ignored, as two female employees wrote to a manager in an e-mail message. (The Daily Beast)
  9. The Circus co-star John Heilemann had this to say about allegations of Mark Halperin’s sexual harassment that led Showtime to fire Halperin from the series: “I had never heard of, been exposed to or had any inkling of the notion that he had engaged in any behavior that could be described in even the broadest sense of being sexual harassment or sexual assault. I was flabbergasted and shocked,” Heilemann said. (New York Times)
  10. Vanderpump Rules cast member Stassi Schroeder lost advertisers for her podcast after discussing the #metoo movement by saying, “Are we on a male witch hunt?” She later deleted the podcast episode. (People)

reality show news

  1. RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants Katya, Valentina, and Manila Luzon will appear on America’s Next Top Model, modeling with the contestants during a photo shoot. Tyra Banks is returning as host for cycle 24 of the show. (EW)
  2. The Kardashians are staying with E! until at least 2020, in a deal valued at not quite $100 million for everything. (Variety)
  3. Toni Morrison talked about watching Keeping up with the Kardashians in an interview last year.  She said “It was vaguely interesting, but all they did was shopping, picking out clothes, but it was nothing!” (Literary Hub)
  4. MTV Floribama Shore, which I didn’t care for at all, was MTV’s “highest rated new series premiere in over three years,” according to the network. 846,000 people watched at 10 p.m, and 93 percent stuck around for the second hour, MTV said.
  5. There will be a Trading Spaces reunion in the spring that will include the returning designers and also Amy Wynn Pastor, who isn’t returning for the new series. TLC’s Lisa Joyner will host.
  6. Doug Wilson filmed eight episodes for the new Trading Spaces season, according to this interview. (WCIA)
  7. Someone is pretending to be part of the Property Brothers production and using that to try to scam people out of money. (Denver7)
  8. The Bachelor‘s production company, NZK Productions, is threatening to sue Steve Carbone, aka Reality Steve, for publishing spoilers. (Cosmopolitan)
  9. Should Casey Anthony pursue a rumored reality show with OJ Simpson, or try to sell the story of her daughter’s death, she’ll be sued by her own parents, George and Cindy Anthony, they said. (Orlando Sentinel)
  10. How do you film a documentary that has a cast of cats? Director Ceyda Torun talks about her process of filming Kedi, including how she went about “determining if a cat was giving us permission to film.” (Hollywood Reporter)
  11. Beat Shazam‘s new DJ is Corinne Foxx, who’s an actor and model, and also happens to be the daughter of host Jamie Foxx.
  12. Lauren’s comment on Survivor about redheads was turned into a promotional tweet by Wendy’s in Canada. (Twitter)
  13. At a Hollywood Reporter Women in Entertainment Event, Sarah Silverman said, “We have a responsibility as women to reject this toxic drug in the air that makes us feel like the success of one woman can only come at the failure of another. It’s not true — except for on The Bachelor — one of the great feminist shows of our time.” (Hollywood Reporter)
  14. SeaWorld executives e-mailed each other about the effect the documentary Blackfish had on their revenues before admitting that publicly. One wrote, “God we look like idiots”; one message’s subject line said “Lost Blackfish revenue — confidential.” SeaWorld is being sued by shareholders.. (San Diego Union Tribune

reality star news

  1. Brendan Dassey will remain in prison because an appeals court voted 4-3 to reverse an an earlier court, deciding that his confession—documented on Netflix’s Making a Murderer—was valid. The judges wrote that “Dassey provided many of the most damning details himself in response to open‐ended questions. On a number of occasions he resisted the interrogators’ strong suggestions on particular details. Also, the investigators made no specific promises of leniency.” (Buzzfeed News)
  2. Kathy Griffin said in a YouTube video that Bravo’s Andy Cohen offered her cocaine twice, before her appearances on Watch What Happens Live. That followed a voicemail from TMZ’s Harvey Levin following up on Andy Cohen—Griffin’s former boss, who she said was “a miserable boss” and now has her former job of being co-host on CNN—pretending to not know who she was. Andy Cohen tweeted that her story “is 100% false and totally made up.” (Vulture)
  3. Kathy Griffin sold the Hollywood Hills mansion featured on Bravo’s My Life on the D List and that she bought in part with her Celebrity Mole winnings. The house, called “Wings,” was sold for $4.4925 million, though she wanted $5.495 million. She paid $2.85 million for it in 2004.(Variety)
  4. Little Women: Atlanta star Melissa Hancock has been charged with DWI and more after police say she “killed a U.S. Coast Guard technician in a drunken wrong-way collision on a Virginia highway,” the AP reports. Her attorney said, “Everyone involved feels horrible about the tragic accident.” (AP)
  5. Swamp People star Chase Landry didn’t show up for a trial and now there’s a warrant out for his arrest. (KALB)
  6. Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec sued Danielle Vasinova, his ex-girlfriend, claiming she is “trying to exploit the sexual harassment scandal rippling through Hollywood by extorting him for millions of dollars over what he says are false claims of sexual assault,” People reported. She then sued him “for sexual battery, domestic violence and infliction of emotional distress after claiming that the CEO repeatedly raped and sodomized her,” the New York Daily News reports.
  7. The British tabloid The Sun published photos it said showed Great British Bake-Off winner Candice Brown and judge Paul Hollywood “sharing an intimate kiss after a party,” but another person present said it was “just a goodbye peck,” while Candice joked about it on Twitter and added, “No kisses or hugs hello or goodbye from now on- handshakes or waves only!”
  8. Bachelor Ben Higgins writes about how he contracted “a parasitic roundworm I likely picked up by touching contaminated soil” before filming The Bachelor, but he had no idea until after the show. “I was dating 26 women at the time, so I wasn’t surprised that my stomach felt uncomfortable sometimes. Four months after I finishing filming I realized something was really wrong and saw a doctor.” (The Mahogany Workplace)
  9. Nick Viall appeared on ABC’s Speechless, and his acting was praised as “actually not that bad.” (Bustle)
  10. Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi claimed that Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancolo won’t be on Jersey Shore: Family Vacation because “Sammi is just in such a happy place that I feel like she doesn’t want to jump back into that drama if it does happen. And being that there was a lot of Ron and Sam drama when we did film, it was just really hard on both of them. So I just think she doesn’t want that anymore.” (PopCulture)
  11. On the occasion of Heidi Montag and Specer Pratt’s nine-year anniversary, E! writes that they are a “fame-loving force of nature that has defied the odds, falling in love in a (sometimes) hopeless place: the world of reality television.” (E! News)
  12. An observation that will be no surprise to those of us who watched The Apprentice, Donald Trump Jr. “proved to be the easiest mark for the Russians,” Politico writes. In a possibly related story, CBS News reports that “The House Intelligence Committee is weighing whether to subpoena Twitter over the messages between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks,” because Junior “was in direct communication with Wikileaks beginning in September of 2016 within days of then-candidate Trump praising Wikileaks as it released stolen Democratic Party emails and damaging information on Hillary Clinton.”
  13. When Jennifer Lawrence was asked by Oprah Winfrey which three people she’d have at a dinner party, living or dead, Lawrence said, “Scott Disick [from Keeping Up With the Kardashians], Luann from Real Housewives of New York, Bethenny Frankel. And I’m not proud of that, but that’s what comes from my heart.” (Hollywood Reporter)

industry news

  1. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced the 15 documentary features and 10 documentary shorts that could receive Oscar nominations.
  2. A&E’s decision to focus on reality TV has paid off: AdWeek reports that the network has seen “six consecutive months of growth in its core demo of adults 25-54—A&E’s longest growth streak since 2011—and is enjoying year-over-year gains in total viewers and the 25-54 and 18-49 demos at a time when A+E Networks’ other marquee brands like Lifetime and History have been losing viewers.” (AdWeek)
  3. The merger between Discovery Communications and Scripps, which owns HGTV, Food Network, and other channels, was approved by shareholders. It should happen early next year. (Hollywood Reporter)
  4. Food Network and Cooking Channel are keeping Alton Brown, who signed a new deal to host and produce shows for both networks.(Variety)
  5. The History Channel uses its reality series “to identify subjects and spaces that resonate with our viewers,” according to executive Eli Lehrer, who said Vikings, Knightfall, and Six were all inspired by reality shows that “have worked over the years in the unscripted space.” (Deadline)
  6. Viacom’s CEO, Bob Bakish, said “that was really dumb” of MTV to cancel Jersey Shore several years ago. MTV International extended the Shore franchise around the world when he ran that division, and he called the Shore franchise “near and dear to my heart.” (Hollywood Reporter)
  7. A year ago, Gurney Productions founders Scott and Deirdre Gurney were suspended and eventually sued for fraud by their own company. Now, an appeals court says they can stay on the board but don’t have control of the company. (Hollywood Reporter)
  8. Rob Smith, Endemol Shine USA’s unscripted executive, is leaving after 15 years there and at Endemol. He recently worked on the relaunch of Fear Factor at MTV, and developed shows ranging from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to Deal or No Deal to Wipeout. (Deadline)
  9. Ken Burns launched UNUM, a web site “where users can access clips from across Burns’s films, explore themes that run through American history – including Leadership, Race, Innovation, and War – and relate them to issues of the present,” according to a press release.
  10. The Radiotopia podcast  The Polybius Conspiracy, which ended Nov. 16, was assumed to be a true-life mystery, but turned out to be “made up of both fact and fiction,” as Radiotopia admitted, because its creators “wove a fictional narrative throughout the series” without ever saying that the show was fiction. Radiotopia said, “We do apologize to listeners who were disappointed to discover that the story isn’t completely true, and felt we intentionally misled them by not stating outright, from the beginning, that the story was a blend of fact and fiction.” (PRX)
  11. Focus Features acquired the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor, which is about Fred Rogers, aka Mister Rogers, and is directed by Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville, who directed 20 Feet From Stardom. It’ll be in theaters June 8, and was produced in association with PBS’ Independent Lens, so we’ll likely see it on TV eventually, too.