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Reality stars who returned, quit, or were fired this month, plus other news

Reality stars who returned, quit, or were fired this month, plus other news
Monica Garcia responds to Andy Cohen's accusations on the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City reunion (Photo by Jocelyn Prescod/Bravo)

Oh January, where have you gone? Was New Year’s Eve not just last night? Isn’t Anderson Cooper still hungover from consuming all that Andy Cohen?

Yet a lot has happened these past four weeks! Just look through at this list of newsworthy links and interesting revelations that I’ve collected over the month—it’s everything from a Survivor who needs a heart transplant to Valerie Bertinelli’s heartfelt sadness at being fired by Food Network.

Plus: two Survivor winners came out, several shows were renewed, and so much more.

As always, I share some of these as I find them in my free newsletter every week; if you don’t get it yet, sign up now!

Recommended reads

Five people pose holding trophies
Queer Eye’s cast with their 2023 Emmy awards for Outstanding Structured Reality Program (Photo by Television Academy)

This month, three very different profiles of three very different people best known for their time on reality TV.

First, Paul Chi profiled Queer Eye’s exiting cast member Bobby Berk, focusing on his beef with Tan France, and why he quit Queer Eye, which is a fascinating story: basically, they all thought they were done after seven years. Netflix surprised them during the strikes by offering a new contract for four seasons; the others signed and he did not. More:

The Cut’s Matthew Schneier profile of Real Housewives of New York City cast member Jenna Lyons asks, “Can Jenna Lyons’s reality-TV turn reinvent her as a beauty mogul without trashing her reputation?”

Cold Justice star Kelly Siegler, The Intercept reports, “relied on jailhouse informants to win convictions despite reasons to doubt their credibility.” Here’s the report:

January 2024 reality TV news

A person stands with hands clasped in front of him
Temptation Island host Mark L. Walberg

Something left out of Netflix’s American Nightmare: detective Mat Mustard “has been embroiled in several controversies within the Vallejo force and in investigations he’s handled.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 1.31.24]

NatGeo executive: “we have less money to spend than when I joined 18 months ago.” [RealScreen, 1.31.24]

Antiques Roadshow announced its 2024 tour cities and dates. [1.30.24]

“How The Viall Files Became Meet the Press for Reality TV” [Vulture, 1.30.24]

A look at Morgan Neville’s process for his forthcoming two-part documentary about Steve Martin. [Vanity Fair, 1.30.24]

A+E is investing in Rachael Ray’s production company, and also “ordered 278 new episodes of programming over the next two years from Free Food Studios, featuring Rachael and other talent.” Rachael said, “Viewers can expect to see me cooking in both of my homes, in upstate New York and Tuscany, Italy and creating new shows that will feature an amazing group of diverse and unique culinary talents.” [1.30.23]

JoJo Siwa is re-joining So You Think You Can Dance as a judge, replacing Nigel Lythgoe, who quit after being accused of sexual assault by former SYTYCD judge Paula Abdul and others. [1.26.24]

USA Network has lost Temptation Island to Netflix, which will air new seasons. It fits well with Netflix’s other romance experiment reality TV, and takes Netflix another step closer to just being a giant cable channel. [Vulture, 1.26.24]

A jury decided LA Ink’s Kat Von D did not violate a photographer’s copyright when she created a tattoo of Miles Davis based on a photograph. [Associated Press, 1.26.24]

Myanmar documentary filmmaker Shin Daewe was sentenced to life in prison for having a drone camera, after a trial in which she was not allowed a lawyer. The International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk notes “Shin Daewe has repeatedly shed a light on social and political issues in her country,” and says it “stands with Shin Daewe and all those in Myanmar who stand up for their basic human rights and the freedom of expression and call on the Myanmar authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Shin Daewe.” [ICFR, 1.24.24]

The Real Housewives of Orange County’s Heather Dubrow said in a social media video, “I just wanna say to all the LGBTQIA+ kids out there: We love you. We support you. We are here for you. And to all the parents out there who go to bat for their kids every single day, keep up the fight. We need you.” [1.23.24]

Valerie Bertinelli posted a video in which she shared that said “it really hurt my feelings” when she learned “I’m not going to be asked back” to Kids Baking Championship, all because of Food Network “budget cuts.” The current season was filmed in the summer of 2022. Variety reports that this decision was “made by development execs that no longer work at the network.” Her manager said that Valerie’s “deal expired, they opted not to renew it. They could have come to me with an offer just for Kids. They never did. Simple as that.” [Variety, 1.24.23]

Why did The Bachelor blur Joey’s Canadian flag? Because it cannot be used for commercial purposes. [TVLine, 1.23.24]

Amazon is working on a $100 million deal for a MrBeast reality show, which may explain they’re adding ads to previously ad-free Prime Video shows. His nonsense is expensive. [Variety, 1.22.24]

Former Dance Moms cast members Sarah Ashley Hunt and her mom Christy created a video saying, among other things, that producers told Cathy to call Abby “trash,” and that Abby and Cathy are best friends in real life. [1.21.24]

People keep buying fake “Shark Tank keto gummies” because someone is buying Google ads to sell them, even though they have nothing to do with Shark Tank, and keto helps kids with epilepsy, not adults. [Mashable, 1.23.24]

“Heather Gay Tells All” is Kate Aurthur’s fascinating conversation with the RHOSLC star about what happened with Monica Garcia. [Variety, 1.23.24]

Monica Garcia won’t return to The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, perhaps because she was one of the people behind the Instagram account RealityVonTease, which shit on her fellow cast members. [People, 1.23.24]

Drag Race’s Jan Sport is now selling actual Jansport backpacks.

This headline pretty much sums it up: These Netflix Documentaries Are Hits. Scientists Hate Them. I’d add another one to the mix! [Wall Street Journal, 1.19.24]

E! renewed House of Villains; the second season will film soon and air later this year. E! said it was “the network’s most-watched new series since 2020.” [1.18.24]

Five Vanderpump Rules couples are getting their own Bravo show, The Valley: Jax Taylor & Brittany Cartwright, Kristen Doute & Luke Broderick, Danny & Nia Booko, Jesse & Michelle Lally, and Jason & Janet Caperna. [Bravo, 1.18.24]

The online charity event 24-Hour Game Show Marathon asked Fremantle Media for permission to have its participants play versions of Press Your Luck or Match Game, and got a cease and desist in return. [BuzzerBlog, 1.17.24]

Chuck E. Cheese games—”supersized arcade games — including pinball, air hockey, alley roller and the human claw”—will be part of a new competition show produced by Magical Elves. [Hollywood Reporter, 1.17.24]

Survivor: Kaôh Rōng player and former NBA player Scot Pollard needs a heart transplant. He wrote on social media that people think he’s lying: “Ever been on a heart transplant list and then have someone say you’re faking it? It’s super weird.” All of “his five older siblings were diagnosed with heart failure and given pacemakers and defibrillators,” the Indianapolis Star reported, noting that Scot’s dad died of cardiomyopathy. [Indianapolis Star, 1.16.24]

The new season of Queer Eye has one fewer episode because producers cut one to pay for security after multiple carjacking attempts on set in New Orleans. This current season was filmed way back in summer 2022, and The Hollywood Reporter has fascinating details about what went down behind the scenes. [Hollywood Reporter, 1.11.24]

Nigel Lythgoe quit the new season of So You Think You Can Dance as a judge and producer following separate lawsuits from Paula Abdul and two All American Girl contestants, all of whom say he sexually assaulted them. Lythgoe said he quit “with a heavy heart but entirely voluntarily because this great program has always been about dance and dancers, and that’s where its focus needs to remain. In the meantime, I am dedicating myself to clearing my name and restoring my reputation.” [Business Insider, 1.6.24]

A realtor in Orange County, Iain Phillips, talked in a TikTok video about how Selling Sunset’s properties aren’t actually for sale and its cast don’t actually sell many houses. [1.5.24]

19 Entertainment—which co-produces So You Think You Can Dance—is being sued by Paula Abdul, so it’s now investigating its co-defendant and star/EP Nigel Lythgoe. I learned about this in Deadline, which is owned by Penske, which also owns SYTYCD’s other producer, Dick Clark Productions. Hollywood. [1.4.24]

Of the top 100 TV broadcasts in 2023, all were football, except the Oscars, the State of the Union, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the season-two premiere of Next Level Chef—which followed football. [Sportico, 1.5.24]

Rachel Lindsay and Bryan Abasolo are divorcing. [Page Six, 1.2.24]

Survivor winner Erika Casupanan revealed that in 2023, she “realized I’m a lesbian,” while Survivor winner Parvati Shallow shared a photo of her with comedian Mae Martin captioned, “We’re here. We’re queer.”  [12.30.23]

Love is Blind season 3’s Andrew Liu—the fake-tears guy—did a fascinating TinyTalk about his experience, calling the experience “an acting job for a background character role, that paid minimum wage, with free drinks,” and saying that he was “I was a little drunk and I didn’t have anything genuine to say,” hence the “fake cry for dramatic effect.” [YouTube, 12.22.23]

reality blurred updates

  • Monday, Jan. 29: Did we speak it into existence? Mr Bates vs The Post Office is headed to PBS’s Masterpiece in April. —SDB
  • Tuesday, Jan. 23: ABC’s Bad Romance — an 8-episode limited series in the 20/20 “family” — premiered last night. You can find it on Hulu, and ABC hopes you pair its “stories that began with romance and ended in crime” with…The Bachelor. Does this strike anyone else as one of those Spam-esque “you can eat it OR make fun of it, as long as we get the money” marketing decisions? —SDB
  • Wednesday, Jan. 17: Are you a college student who loves reality TV, or wants to learn more about TV criticism or blogging? Apply to be reality blurred’s first intern!
  • Tuesday, Jan. 16: Superchef Grudge Match is now off Food Network’s schedule completely
  • Monday, Jan. 15: Here are the final reality TV Emmy winners, the last of which was announced during tonight’s prime-time telecast—which was a truly excellent awards show!
  • Friday, Jan. 12: Charter superyacht reality juggernaut Below Deck began in 2013 with a boat, the Honor, Captained by Lee Rosbach. After nearly a decade on the mothership product of the franchise, he left in 2022 for health reasons. But now he’s returning to screens with an Oxygen series called “Deadly Waters, which follows murders that take place in the open waters and oceans,” Deadline reports. Though the trade publication claims he’ll be solving crimes, that’s dubious—this seems more like an In Ice Cold Blood “celebrity” hosting gig. Production is reportedly underway, and a release date has yet to be announced. —Eve Batey, Best Evidence
  • Sunday, Dec. 31: Happy (almost) New Year! The one redeeming thing Andy Cohen adds to pop culture is getting Anderson Cooper to do shots on New Year’s Eve.
  • Sunday, Dec. 31: Happy (almost) New Year! The one redeeming thing Andy Cohen adds to pop culture is getting Anderson Cooper to do shots on New Year’s Eve.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 19: reality blurred is on winter hiatus until 2024. I wish you a merry Christmas, a joyful Kwanzaa, and a very Happy New Year to all!
  • Monday, Dec. 4: My story about The Mole placed third in the 2023 National A&E Journalism Awards‘ individual entertainment blog category.

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