Discussing the reality of reality TV on the Reality of Reality podcast

I was honored to be a guest on The Reality of Reality podcast, and had a great conversation with Aliza Rosen, a development executive and reality TV producer who interviews people who are involved with reality television.

It’s a podcast I’ve been a fan of since discovering it early last fall—it’s a great resource for anyone interested in the business of unscripted television.

A search for the truth in CBS’ Hunted

The biggest new broadcast reality show in years is the CBS series Hunted, on which contestants attempt to hide from a group of “hunters,” former law enforcement officials who use all kinds of surveillance to track the teams.

The first few episodes intrigued me, but I also couldn’t understand how exactly a reality show got access to the information they were claiming to access—ATM camera footage, GPS coordinates for cars, car rental records.

So, I set about to fact-check the show, and the result is this story:

Donald Trump, president and reality TV producer?

News that Donald Trump would retain a producing credit on The Celebrity Apprentice—and retains his stake in the show—broke late this week, just as NBC was promoting the new season, which starts in early January.

  • The Washington Post interviewed me about what the “executive producer” title means in reality TV. (Answer: there are many, many different possibilities.)
  • APM’s Marketplace Morning Report interviewed me Friday morning about whether or not this will help the show, and/or represents a conflict of interest for Trump.
  • I wrote about this on reality blurred, suggesting that both the conflict of interest—and the new person NBC cast—are two strikes against the show, which should not air.

What’s wrong with reality TV?

The genre known as reality TV is suffering from a lack of breakout hits. Why? It comes down to one word: fear.

I explored that in a long feature story, which appeared on the cover of The Los Angeles Times’ Sunday Calendar section:

And there are some outtakes that didn’t make it into the piece in a follow-up piece I wrote for reality blurred:

Lifetime’s UnReal may have been a one-season wonder

One of my favorite scripted shows last year was Lifetime’s UnReal, which used the setting of a Bachelor-like show to satirize reality television and tell soapy stories starring two strong female protagonists.

When it returned for a second season, the show had lots its way, and the first season seemed like a distant memory. I wrote about that, and my review was cited in a Variety Q&A with UnReal’s creators.

Read the story, and let me know what you think, of my take and season two:

 

The journalist-public relations dance

Covering the entertainment industry offers the possibility of working with publicists, who can help provide information and access. I value the relationships I’ve established and the reporting I’ve done with their assistance, but it’s a quirky system I’m still learning to navigate.

On May 19, I’ll be talking to a group from the Florida Public Relations Association about the role of those professionals in my work. The talk is titled “A Freelancer’s Reality: PR Lessons from Covering Television,” and it’s open to the public, though tickets are required.

Details about the event are at the FPRA Volusia/Flagler chapter’s web site.