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34 great reality TV stories, including Love is Blind, Love Island, and Bling Empire news

34 great reality TV stories, including Love is Blind, Love Island, and Bling Empire news
Brian Cox will be "The Controller" on 007's Road to a Million (Photo by Amazon Studios)

Just in time for the end of April, here’s my curated list of key reality TV news, must-reads, and even a fun video about Survivor.

Stories this month range from former America’s Got Talent host Jerry Springer’s obituary, a behind-the-scenes story about Drag Race, and lots of coverage of Love is Blind. Plus, a new reality competition hosted by Succession’s Brian Cox.

I’ve shared some of these links in my newsletter as I came across them, so join the list if you haven’t already!

As I’ve noted before, these are stories I find important, interesting, and/or entertaining, so by design, it’s not absolutely everything that happened in the world of reality TV.

I always welcome links, though. E-mail them to me any time.

April must-reads

The pods in Love is Blind season 2
The pods in Love is Blind season 2. (Image via Netflix)

A great essay about how “[t]rue crime has always had a volatile relationship with facts,” by Sarah Weinman, via Best Evidence:

Charlotte Walsh did some incredible research for this, which looks at all 62 Netflix dating show couples, 19 of whom are still together:

Love is Blind is coming under increased scrutiny, and not just for being in “its villain era.” The show is already being sued, and now former contestants have detailed inhumane treatment. Producers said they have “rigorous protocols” and “wellbeing … is of paramount importance.” Here’s Insider’s detailed report:

April 2023 reality TV news

Carson Kressley, Watch What Happens Live
Carson Kressley, pictured here on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live, was missing from most of RuPaul’s Drag Race’s season. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Bravo)

Jerry Springer died at age 79 from pancreatic cancer. Besides hosting his eponymous talk show, he also hosted seasons two and three of America’s Got Talent, and appeared on Dancing With the Stars and The Masked Singer. [New York Times, 4.27.23]

Amazon is 1) producing a James Bond-themed reality competition that 2) will be hosted, kinda of, by Succession star Brian Cox. 007’s Road to a Million will have tams of two competing at “iconic Bond locations,” while Cox plays “The Controller,” who is “villainous and cultured, and revels in the increasingly difficult journeys and questions the contestants must overcome.” Sounds interesting but also unnecessarily complicated? [Amazon Studios, 4.25.23]

CNBC denied that it has cancelled American Greed but is not making new episodes this year. [Variety, 4.25.23]

Dan Renzi posted behind-the-scenes photos from his time on The Inferno II 17 years ago. [Reddit, 4.23.23]

A former Drag Race challenge producer told a story on TikTok about how the show has the best catering he’s ever experienced, and how his attempt to share that with Isaac Mizrahi resulted in an executive producer shaming him. [4.22.23]

Survivor 42 cast member Zach Wurtenberger, who was originally cast for season 41 before COVID, has tried to figure out what the original season 41 cast and plan was, and produced “the lost season of survivor,” a 24-minute video that explores, hilariously, what he found. [YouTube, 4.21.23]

Top Chef alum Edward Lee created the menu for the state dinner for South Korea at the White House. “I’ve been on ‘Top Chef,’ where I’ve had to cook for some very high-powered chefs who were critiquing my food, and this was probably more pressure than the TV show,” he told the AP. [Associated Press, 4.21.23]

Bling Empire and Bling Empire: New York were both cancelled by Netflix. [NBC News, 4.21.23]

Lisa Vanderpump called Scandoval “a producer’s dream, but talent’s nightmare.” [Variety, 4.19.23]

Fixer to Fabulous stars Dave and Jenny Marrs said they rejected HGTV’s offer for a show in 2016. [People, 4.19.23]

Netflix doesn’t release the number of viewers who watched it shows—except now, for the one show people couldn’t actually watch, the Love is Blind reunion. While explaining how, exactly, that got so screwed up (“a bug that we introduced when we implemented some changes to try and improve livestreaming performance”), Netflix’s co-CEO Greg Peters said “6.5 million viewers watched and enjoy the show.” So they know all 6.5 million enjoyed Vanessa and Nick’s inability to host? Sure, Jan. [Vulture, 4.18.23]

Survivor: Blood vs. Water and Survivor: Second Chance player Keith Nale has died at age 62. He placed fourth and fifth. [4.18.23]

CBS announced finale dates, including Survivor 44’s May 24th finale, which will be three hours and end with the “After Show.” The log line says “castaways skillfully navigate their way to the final three,” which I take to mean “navigated the meteor shower of twists the producers hurled at them.” [CBS, 4.19.23]

David Spade will host Snake Oil, a game show produced by Will Arnett that’s a twist on Shark Tank: “contestants are pitched unique products by convincing entrepreneurs—some of whom are showcasing real business ventures, while the others are ‘Snake Oil Salesmen’ whose products are fake.” [Fox, 4.18.23]

Peacock is spinning off Love Island into the all-star Love Island Games, which will stream this fall and have “cross-franchise fan-favorite Islanders from the US, UK, Australia and beyond for a second shot at love as they compete in a brand-new format.” That format will have “team and couples’ challenges,” plus “dating, eliminations, recoupling and dramatic new arrivals,” so it sounds kinda like the original. [Peacock, 4.18.23]

A random man’s photo was used in The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker, showing him holding a hatchet while the narrator said “stone-cold killer.” He’s suing Netflix for defamation and misappropriation. [Washington Post, 4.17.23]

Carson Kressley missed most of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15 because he tested positive for COVID-19—and his 10 days of quarantine ended after production ended. [Out, 4.14.23]

How is Love is Blind’s “wall-to-wall soundtrack of infectious yet strangely disposable pop songs about love and heartache” created? Meredith Blake reports. [LA Times, 4.13.23]

Josh Duhamel will star in CBS’s Buddy Games, which the network said was “inspired by” his “real-life annual tradition with his lifelong friends” who “compete in a variety of competition-style games,” so the show “will bring together best friends from different backgrounds and offer them the same opportunity to live together, compete in wild challenges and prove their bonds run deep.” [CBS, 4.12.23]

Survivor 45 may have 90-minute episodes, Inside Survivor reports. I’d bet this is being discussed as insurance against a possible writer’s strike. [Inside Survivor, 4.9.23]

Valerie Bertinelli’s Food Network show Valerie’s Home Cooking has been cancelled, but the weirdest part is that she said “Food Network canceled us last summer. I have no idea why.” She added the show “was such a dream come true. Every single part of it brought me so much joy.” [Hollywood Reporter, 4.8.23]

Bethenny Frankel said she was paid $7,250 for season one of The Real Housewives of New York City. [TikTok, 4.6.23]

This is a year old, but new to me: Jack Daniel’s created a reality series (!) starring Drag Race’s BeBe Zahara Benet, Manila Luzon, and Trinity the Tuck (!!) glamping at their Tennessee (!!!) distillery. Sure, it’s an ad, but what fun! [Jack Daniels]

Mo’Nique says Charm Schoolwas necessary and is necessary,” but also said “I don’t think I was in the right place all the way to be the person to stand in front of because I was still dealing with my own issues.” [E! News, 4.4.23]

Emmy-winning competition series Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls is now casting. [Amazon Studios, 4.4.23]

The MTV Movie & TV Awards nominees were announced, including best competition series and the prestigious “Best Reality On-Screen Team (Presented By SONIC).” Voting is now open. [MTV News, 4.5.23]

F-Boy Island and the outstanding Legendary were deleted from HBO Max by their awful new parent company last summer, and are now streaming free on The Roku Channel, which is licensing them from Warner Bros. Discovery along with other shows such as My Cat From Hell and Bachelor in Paradise. [Roku Channel, 4.4.23]

The Challenge cast member Nelson Thomas was in a car accident, and friends are fundraising for him. Devin Walker Tweeted, “Our guy needs us to rally for him. He’s given us all so much.” [Twitter, 4.3.23]

Netflix executive Lisa Nishimura, who oversaw films but also documentaries and documentary series such as Making a Murderer, Chef’s Table, and Tiger King, is out at Netflix after a restructuring. One anonymous executive told THR that “the most thoughtful, taste-driven era is being driven out.” [Hollywood Reporter, 3.31.23]

Bravo’s Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard cast has “12 young Black professionals spending their summer vacation how so many members of the Black elite have for generations,” Essence reports in a story that reveals those 12 cast members. [Essence, 3.30.23]

Matt Paxton’s Legacy List will be distributed internationally now that a company acquired the rights to all five seasons. [Abacus Media Rights, 3.30.23]

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