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Jeopardy! revolt, Drag Race’s lost minutes, and more curated reality TV news for you

Jeopardy! revolt, Drag Race’s lost minutes, and more curated reality TV news for you
Jeopardy! host Ken Jennings on the set of Jeopardy! Masters (Photo by Jeopardy)

One weekend remains in the hottest month ever recorded on planet Earth, so it’s a good time to stay inside, stay hydrated, and read things on the Internet—when we’re not watching TV, of course.

I’ve curated this list of reality TV-related news stories, reviews, and social media posts from the month for you. As always, I welcome links and recommendations. Just send me an e-mail!

By the way, I share many links as I find them during the month on reality blurred’s front page (visit daily!), and also in my weekly newsletter. If you’re not a subscriber yet, sign up right now—it’s free:



July must-reads

A portrait of Warner Bros Discovery CEO and President David Zaslav, wearing a black suit
Warner Bros Discovery CEO and President David Zaslav (Photo by Warner Bros. Discovery)

SAG-AFTRA has joined the WGA in striking against Hollywood studios. This will affect the TV that we see this fall and beyond, both scripted and unscripted. It also affects real people, of course, and not just super-rich celebrities. (Just look at actors sharing their residual checks for evidence of that.)

So what exactly do the unions want? Both have produced charts that show what was agreed upon—and where differences remain. They’re fascinating and worth reading:

Speaking of greedy, profitable corporations and their incredibly wealthy top executives, an essay about Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav in GQ was edited after publication and later deleted. The Washington Post runs down what happened. The editor who made that call at GQ? Producing a movie for Warner Bros.

If the company/Zaslav hated the piece that much? Maybe worth reading! Here’s an archived version:

July 2023 reality TV news

A person holding a bejeweled scepter; another person wearing a yellow dress and white wig is behind them
Sasha Colby wins RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15 (Photo by MTV)
  • CBS released a video on Twitter showing three Big Brother alum “breaking in” to the house to tease BB25’s twist. My favorite reaction tweets are this one and this one. [CBS, 7.28.23]
  • Discovery says the premiere of this year’s Shark Week last Sunday was “#1 in primetime for all of television with Adults and Men 18-49 and #1 across cable television with Adults and Men 25-54, Adults and Men 18-49, and Adults 18-34,” making it “The highest-rated Shark Week premiere night in three years.” [Warner Bros. Discovery, 7.28.23]
  • The full 90-minute episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15—which were hacked down to 60 minutes to make room for the trash known as Real Friends of WeHo—will be on Paramount+ and Wow Presents Plus starting Aug. 9. MTV did undo its terrible decision starting with episode 11, so that means there will more content for the first 10 episodes. [World of Wonder, 7.27.23]
  • Adore Delano came out as trans in an Instagram post, saying that she “love[s] the transformation and the binary in-between the character and Danny, if that makes any sense. I tried to live, I really tried to live it, but it just did not code well with my spirit, if that makes any sense.” [NBC News, 7.27.23]
  • NeNe Leakes says she made just $10,000 for season one of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, or $1,429 per episode. [BuzzFeed, 7.27.23]
  • Todd and Julie Chrisley’s kids talked about the “nightmare,” “inhumane” conditions of the prisons their parents are in. While I have no sympathy for why the Chrisleys ended up in prison, I do have empathy for incarerated people, because there are horrific conditions in America’s prisons that include “cruel, inhuman, and degrading conditions of confinement.”Perhaps their celebrity could help bring attention to that? [Los Angeles Times, 7.26.23]
  • The Directors Guide of America’s Documentary Committe is “pushing for updated, comprehensive documentary agreements as opposed to the myriad agreements that doc projects can currently fall under,” RealScreen reports. Those were left out of negotiations with the AMPTP; the DGA now says it “is as committed to fighting [for] and winning meaningful gains in our separate documentary agreements, as we were in our recent BA/FLTTA negotiations.” [RealScreen, 7.26.23]
  • American Idol is casting again, for ABC’s seventh season, which will again feature Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, and host Ryan Seacrest. [7.25.23]
  • Jeopardy! said it will delay the Tournament of Champions after several champions said they won’t appear (see the next item ↓) while the WGA and SAG-AFTRA continue to strike. Sony Pictures Televisions insisted “Jeopardy! never had any intention of producing a Tournament of Champions for season 39 until the strike is resolved”—but it “will deliver first-run episodes again this fall … featuring the best of our WGA written material.” Meanwhile, Ken Jennings is being criticized for potentially crossing the picket line again if he hosts season 40. [Hollywood Reporter, 7.25.23]
  • Five Jeopardy! champions say they won’t film Tournament of Champions if the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are still striking. The show’s trivia is written by WGA writers and reports suggest the show will recycle questions in order to tape new episodes Champion Amy Schneider tweeted, “I, too, will not be participating in any Jeopardy productions that don’t use new clues written by their amazing, unionized writers under a fair, collectively bargained contract.” [HuffPost, 7.24.23]
  • The structure of Peacock’s Myth of the Zodiac Killer hurts the documentary, Sarah D. Bunting writes in this analysis. [Best Evidence, 7.24.23]
  • Ultimate Cowboy Showdown season 4 competitor Jackson Taylor died during a rodeo. His season filmed in spring and airs starting in September; INSP says it will still air it because “Jackson plays prominently throughout numerous episodes. We feel that airing the season … is the most fitting way to honor him.”  [Plainview Herald, 7.24.23]
  • Superfan host Keltie Knight tweeted at Elon Musk, saying the show planned to use Twitter as its “voting platform” and “We’ve invested so much in this show and changing the name without any warning really screws a lot of people over.” Elon’s stupidity aside, is it really smart to use Elon-owned Twitter as a voting platform for a show in 2023? [7.23.23]
  • The Gosselin family is a complete mess. [People, 7.21.23]
  • Julie Chen Moonves doesn’t plan to leave Big Brother because—and this is shocking—it’s an easy job. “[T]his is my only gig now, so why would I ever give it up?,” she told EW. “I’m like, This is now easier than I could have ever dreamed!” No kidding. [EW, 7.20.23]
  • I agree with Bethenny Frankel that “unscripted talent… should have a union or simply be treated fairly”. [TVLine, 7.20.23]
  • Tough As Nails, which was sold as a format to a bunch of other countries back in 2020, is now casting in Australia for a season that will film sometime between October and February. [TV Blackbox, 7.17.23]
  • Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood eating/judging American snack food is pretty fun. They choose a winner that Prue declares is “much more subtle, interesting, layered, and pure in a way”—Doritos Cool Ranch.
  • Longtime reality TV executive Mike Darnell is leaving Warner Bros. Television Group, where he’d led the unscripted division since 2013. His boss, Channing Dungey, wrote this to colleagues:
    “When Mike joined Warner Bros. in 2013, he was already an industry legend — one of the most influential figures in the history of unscripted programming. In his 10 years with WBTVG, he truly supercharged the unscripted department by more than doubling the series output, making Warner Bros. the top unscripted studio in America for seven straight years. Mike oversaw an all-star lineup of the top unscripted properties in the business, and his record of success is unparalleled. I had hoped we would continue to work together, but I understand Mike’s decision to leave.”
    Darnell said “a couple of new ventures have come my way…even so, deciding to leave was difficult.” [Deadline, 7.13.23]
  • Discovery renewed Naked and Afraid: Last One Standing, saying it the “series is Discovery Channel’s highest-rated series of 2023 to date and the #2 freshman cable series so far this year among Adults 25-54 and Men 25-54” and “is on track to be the network’s highest-rated freshman series in five years.” [7.13.23]
  • Survivor: The Australian Outback player Nick Brown resigned as U.S. attorney in Seattle to run for Washington state attorney general [Associated Press, 7.12.23]
  • HBO renewed We’re Here—but with an entirely new cast: Sasha Velour, Priyanka, and Jaida Essence Hall will “continue the goal of the series to spread love and connection through the art of drag across small-town America,” though there will just be two towns featured in season four’s six episodes. Bob the Drag Queen tweeted, “Happy to pass the torch to these three queens.” [HBO, 7.12.23]
  • Aubrey O’Day says that, after meeting Donald Trump Jr. on The Celebrity Apprentice, they had sex for the first time in a gay club’s bathroom [People, 7.6.23]
  • The whole cast of The Real Housewives of New Jersey will return next season, including Teresa Giudice and Melissa Gorga [People, 7.6.23]
  • Love is Blind’s Nick Thompson compared the experience of being on the Netflix show to being in a cult. [Insider, 6.30.23]
  • Nina Li Coomes writes about the Japanese reality show Love Village, which is on Netflix, and how it is not “another show about taut, hormone-addled young adults falling for one another” but instead “asks us to witness and admire the less commonly shown search for a partner by a 50-something actor or a 60-year-old landlord.” [The Atlantic, 6.28.23]
  • Tim Gunn talked in an interview that Project Runway about the “lying, deceptive assholes” at the Weinstein Company. It started when the season-one contract said that its winner would owe Miramax 15 percent of everything he earned in the future. Jay McCarroll rejected it; Tim Gunn said he wouldn’t return for season two unless that changed. Tim Gunn said in season 13, he discovered that the Weinstein Company retained ownership of contestants’ work, and said he wouldn’t return unless that was undone all the way back to season two. [Really Famous, 4.28.23]

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Happy discussing!

Raph

Monday 31st of July 2023

so... in regards to the bullet point about the Chrisley's and the prison systems.. You linked to articles/sites that do speak of issues in the system, but they are not 100% factual. Does the system have problems yes, is it broken no. If it was, there would be thousands of deaths daily from violence in the system. Most violence in prisons, are inmate on inmate due to gang violence, or the crimes they committed. Prisons are a culture, that unless you work or have worked in corrections, have no understanding of that culture or how it operates. Staffing is critical in our prison systems, because its an antiquated career that people do not want to do anymore, in addition staff is more and more risk of violence.

So correlating violence and deplorable prison conditions to the chrisley is hilarious. They are not in your ordinary prison system so its comparing apples and oranges to their protected status and white collar facilities. They just spoiled because they do not have the life of luxury they are used to.

Melissa

Friday 28th of July 2023

I love Jeopardy! I'm glad they're not going to do the TOC without the writers, because they really can't. They shouldn't do any Jeopardy! without the writers; they're truly what make the show what it is. I'm torn about Ken Jennings. I love him, but I also think it would be nice if he refused to host in solidarity with the writers. But then we might get another parade of horrible guest hosts, particularly awful when actors are on strike too, so that would mean more news and sports people. Bleh.