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Topic: In The News
Submitted By: 1boss
Date Submitted: 03-24-14

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Reality TV Show Writer Gives Up The Goods (Oh You THought Reality TV Was Real)

Remember when that guy from "Storage Wars" got fired and then sued A&E, telling everyone who would listen that the show was a fake? And that guy from "Duck Dynasty" saying gross, racist things, with websites outing the whole family as “yuppies in redneck drag?”

TMZ covered those scandals, inviting callers to discuss whether the shows were “real” or not — and I sat back laughing, because I write for shows like these. I could have had my 15 minutes of fame by Skype-ing in to TMZ to tell my truth, but I would rather protect my income.

What they don’t tell you about reality shows is that the people are real, but the situations are totally not. Many times, a “star” — or main character — is found, and then an entire show is built around this charismatic or weird person. There may be legit members of their entourage, or such side characters can be hired to fill out the story. Think "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" or "Millionaire Matchmaker" -- people or situations are planted, in order to increase the drama. The actors know what type of events will be happening and are usually asked to improvise dialogue as they go. Voila: a train wreck that’s hard to turn away from.

And duh — of course Rick’s “buddy” experts on "Pawn Stars" are not really always available to come on down at the exact moment he calls with a client who seemingly walked in off the street to sell him something. (Yes, the show would have had to audition and choose the seller with the interesting item, arrange a shoot with them in the shop, and have the expert appraiser available just off-set).

I have a friend who is now a well-known actor, but as an up-and-comer he was hired to play a guy getting his car repossessed on a reality show. Though his job and name were different on the  show, every time this old episode airs, his friends from back home still call and write to offer condolences for his bad luck. Apparently it can be confusing to sort what’s real from what’s not.


The shows I’ve worked on are primarily competitive game-show-type formats or episodic docu-dramas. (It’s illegal to set up the outcome of a game-show, by the way—see the movie Quiz Show for more on that). I am a freelancer hired to write what are called “treatments,” which briefly summarize a production company’s show idea. They need to show these treatments to network executives in their pitch meetings. If the treatment makes it through the first round, I am sometimes called upon to brainstorm and write up potential episodes. For example: “what if they happened to find the makings of an anarchist bomb-making lab, and then—BOOM! An explosion?”  (I actually wrote a potential episode like this and forgot about it until a year later while flipping channels in a hotel room and I saw it. “Oh wow, they used it!” I said to my husband while pointing at the TV. “I wrote that.” We laughed about it and then we fell asleep.)


See Full Story @ ...Reality TV Show Writer Gives Up The Goods (Oh You THought Reality TV Was Real)

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