Tuesday, December 6, 2011

This one time... on a Reality set...

I was reminiscent of my time in reality television the other night and was remembering some not so fun times I had on set. This post is going to be my "so this one time at band camp" type entry. So this one time... on a reality set I was on a restaurant make over show and got the task of being apart of the night crew and having to actually do a lot of the manual labor needed for the makeover. I remember it being 3am and upholstering restaurant chairs and hanging up light fixtures. The worst part of that job was when we were moving out the old stoves and other kitchen appliances (which were heavy as all hell btw) and low and behold a family of dead, pancaked, half burnt and decomposed rats! As disgusting as it was I am happy to say (sarcastically) I drew the lucky straw of the bunch and had to actually physically take them out one by one. Yeah I had gloves on but it was not a fun experience.

Id have to say that was one of the worst jobs I had to do on set... the second would be having to clean the bathroom on a set of 40 people after 3 weeks of use. That was not any fun either, did i mention it overflowe and there was about a foot depth of water everywhere... and oh yeah theres that other thing, IM NOT A PLUMBER! So needless to say I had no idea wtf i was doing. 3 long hours later lets just says I smelt... FRESH!

Thirdly I'd have to say taking my producers dog for a walk and having to pick up poop for a week wasn't any better. It was defiantly a gut check I must say, but hey, you do what you gotta do to make it right? I forgot to mention I also had to pick up their dry cleaning, grab them coffee, buy them M&M's and remove all the red one (he was allergic to the dye) and find him organic fresh squeezed cranberry juice... If you don't know that's almost impossible to find in New York City! At the end of my stint working for him on that show lets just say he was my least favorite Executive Producer... He was a royal dick!

I had the not so pleasurable opportunity to work with some celebrities as well. I say not so pleasant because at least for the most part, all the celebs I worked with or for were douche-bags! Weird, entitled, conceded and just flat out ignorant. I wont mention names for obvious reason but 2 names i will mention on the opposite end of the spectrum are Ozzie and Sharon Osbourne. I had the pleasure of working with them on a Green Screen shoot at Sony Studios in Manhattan and you could not meet any 2 nicer people. They were very kind and friendly, spoke to everyone no matter what title or age they were and if you didn't know any better they fit right in and you'd think they were just normal everyday average people like me or you. Ozzie even got me a drink...! And let me tell you something that man still has quite a voice... no post editing in his albums that's all Ozzie baby.

I guess the point of this entry was to share a few different first hand stories I had on set of Reality TV... its not all Hollywood I can tell you than much...

Monday, December 5, 2011


One blog that I actually follow with some consistency is that of TMZ. Though I don't like them... mainly because they offered me a job and then just as quickly swept the rug out from under me with no warning what so ever... they do a good job of showing you entry after entry just how ridiculous Reality TV and celebrities of all sorts and sizes are. I mean just read some of their blog entries and tell me you aren't left shaking your head as to why some of these people are even famous to begin with. They really are mostly all just weird individuals who if not for being famous would probably be committed, or have social workers following them around trying to administer medication, (thought my suspicions are some of them probably have this happen already). I know TMZ is not the NY Times or a credited news source at all for that matter but it is entertaining and seeing how dumb some of these celebs are and their antics is just silly. I remember working for a major television network during the hole Mel Gibson Anti Semitic fiasco and just how often it led all the headlines, and I worked for a mainly politically based network. All in all if you are looking for a good laugh TMZ is the site for you, and if you are like me, one who doesn't understand the current requirements for fame... prepare to have you mind blundered even more.

Fear Factor is back...

Welp after a brief hiatus from the airwaves, one of the original most popular Reality TV shows is back on NBC, Fear Factor is now making a return to TV. So many have missed the show where contestants were forced to hang from moving helicopters and leap thru rings of fire. Most notable though is Fear Factors legendary challenge where it would make its contestants eat something vile, like bull testicle or alligator penis, just to name a few. They also had many challenges where they would have the most squeamish of contestants have to lay in a tub filled with insects or other disgusting creatures. I just think this show is funny because it shows just how stupid some people are and even more so how far some will go for the right price. Again the world revolves around money and no show can bring that to the forefront than Fear Factor, its not about the competition. Its not about conquering ones fear, of lets say heights, no its all about the green backs and what and how far you are willing to go to get them. If you care to watch that stuff Fear Factor will be on NBC Dec 12th at 8pm...

A REAL rant...

What ever happened to good ole fashion TV? I miss the days where we had shows with real characters and real story lines.  Now we just have "Real housewives" a show that follows rich woman, half of them not even traditional housewives in the sense or even married, running around spending money and fighting with each other. We have "Millionaire match maker" where men or woman with money are set up with men and woman who don't have any... yea that's a real match made in heaven. Don't even get me started on Jersey Shore or Real World... They even have 20 different talent shows like American Idol, X Factor, Americas got talent... yet none of them have any, talent that is... so what next?

My question is why do people keep watching this stuff? Granted I'm a bit jaded because Ive worked in the industry but at the same time I have literally tried time and time again to watch this crap and just cant get into it. What do people see in this stuff? Celebrity Rehab is a perfect example... to me that show is a joke, following around former celebs who have addiction issues exploiting them to the masses. They try and make the show look like its a positive effort to help its "patients" but you cant pull the wool over my eyes. I know its just for ratings and exploitative. Half the people on the show end up relapsing and coming on for another season, yea real helpful.

I just don't understand why we as a society need this stuff on the tube. I don't understand why we have to feed into it and make these people "Reality TV stars". Especially in this economy where there are so many talented people who are jobless and broke it makes my blood boil knowing people like "The Situation" and "Snooki" are raking in millions of dollars... and for what? Because ones a drunken fool and the others a dumb whore? If that's the case sign me up, if that was the new barometer for success I'd get rid of my degree, and boat loads of debt, trade in years of work experience for a shot glass and a fourty ounce and collect my checks.

One Reality "star" I worked with and actually befriended told me how he had never held a real job in his life. He lucked out by booking a casting for a show and now makes over 100 grand a year, and that's when hes not even on a show taping and just making bar and club appearances. He shows up to a place for an hour, signs some autographs, takes a few pictures, gets tons of free food and booze and leaves to another place to do the same, he'll do that 2 or 3 times a night and get paid $3-5 grand each visit. He'll make more in one night than some make in almost half a year. Tell me there isn't something wrong with that picture. Yet I have a degree and this guy barley graduated high school. 

I don't think realty TV stars should be paid as much or even more so than Doctors, that's the point I'm trying to make. You can make the same argument about athletes and how ridiculously overpaid they are but at least in their case I can say they have a real world class talent. I just ponder when we will wake up and realize what crap we have been force fed to watch and end this proverbial Reality TV psychosis we are in. I cant picture a world 5 to 10 years down the road where Toddlers and Tiaras is still on the air. As I said in previous posts I am hoping that eventually there will be this Renaissance of sitcoms and scripted shows and the Reality TV genre will decrease. I supposed for the moment we have to deal with this infection that is Reality TV and hope its not a virus that keeps on spreading with more and more of it coming on the tubes everyday as it is now, and has been for quite some time.

Come to think of it, I don't think I have actually enjoyed or found a Reality show that I enjoyed watching for its content value at all. Except for ones that might of had a hott chick I was attracted to on them. Even all of the shows Ive worked on I have never watched, well other than the credits just to see my name scroll by. Other than sports I really don't watch TV at all and Reality is the main reason why. In doing this blog I have come to realize that though my opinions are strong I may be in the minority for my hatred of Reality TV . In doing research there are more positively charged Reality TV blogs and articles than bad ones, More shows pop up  weekly, and more Reality stars are gaining celebrity recognition by the day.

Even over in Europe, Reality TV is just as popular as it is here, maybe even more. I actually found a British Reality TV blog with the same name as my own and all it does is talk about British reality TV. No real opinions or insider information like I offer, but more so recaps of the different shows and happenings of its stars. What I have realized is as jaded as I am about my opinions of Reality TV it is definitely not going anywhere for a while, and I must live with that fact. The good thing is I have an outlet where I can vent my Television frustrations in hopes that one day Reality TV will be nothing but a stage our society has gone through and my blog will have to be no more. Until then I will continue to scrutinize, look back, hate, bitch and moan about Reality TV and all its stars that come with it.

A REALity Story...

I want to serenade you all with a bed time story. This story is about a young ambitious little boy who at 12 steps on the stage of his fist TV set. He got the lucky opportunity to star in a few episodes of an after school special where he felt like a famous movie star and becomes star struck by the lights and cameras. He thinks to himself "people do this as a job?" and immediately sets his young mind on a career in TV. This young boy soon becomes a High School teen and seems destined for stardom, he is the lead news anchor on his High School Morning show and becomes a mini celebrity in his own right. From teachers to students alike, even people in the neighborhood recognize his face.

After graduation, he then moves on to college where in his sophomore year he becomes Vice President of his University Campus television station, the youngest in school history. Next he changes the entire programing format and shatters the old standing philanthropy record when the stations Telethon raises over $2000 for a non for profit organization. Life is good, things are good, it seems as if he is well on his way, and working hard to hone his skills and perfect his craft. While others are out partying like most college kids do, he is in the studio, and the library, un phased by the crazy parties he may be missing out on.

Junior year brings the most to be put on this young mans plate, he is now running the network and all its shows, interning at a major network television station and working part time at a small local station as a camera man covering High School sports. The dream is in full swing... Once senior year approaches he has finally made it, at 20 he is no longer just an intern but a crew member at that major television station, no longer a camera man but now a full time Reporter at the other, all before he has even graduated. He is determined as ever to continue to see that his stock rises. He now has even taken on a yet another job, modeling. His picture is on countless magazines and billboards, hes been in a couple commercials and even strutted down the cat walk in fashion shows. "Is this real?" he asks, pinching  himself every time he steps foot onto set or in the studio...the dream of a small town 12 year old boy who was always considered shy  is now living all that he had ever wished.

Though these successes seem all  like a dream, just like a dream they can come and go in the blink of an eye. The rescession hits and his crew position vanishes, turned into an unpaid internship, the reporter job gone, all after a hostile station takeover,  the glamorous photo shoots and catwalks disappear... An "almost was, but never has, been" This is how this young boy now young man feels. Broke, distraught, confused and down, this young man becomes depressed, the life he strives for and career he worked so hard for now squandered before he could even fully enjoy it. Was it his fault? what did he do wrong he wonders... all these questions with no answers. What should he do???

Then one day vicariously searching through job postings on the internet he comes across an opening... "Reality TV crew needed" is the title. He wonders, "reality" could this be the re start he'd been looking for? Before another moments thought he emails his resume and by that afternoon gets a call for an interview. Needless to say he gets the job and is back on track... or so he thinks...

The next 3 years he spends working on numerous reality show sets, some good, some bad, and some just god awful. 12 hour days, low pay, zero respect are now the norm for someone who had such promise and belief he could make it. But he keeps fighting, he keeps the fire inside him burning, hoping for his next shot and the beginning of the next chapter in his life. At 25 he decides to give school another shot and peruses his Masters Degree and gives reality a break. Invigorated by his studies he feels that the future is once again bright and better things are on the horizon.

Poised by his experiences both good and bad, he continues on his struggle and battle to make it where he once was headed. Even though he has his doubters, and has even doubted himself at times, he knows that no matter what, he can achieve great things if he strives for them and believes in himself. An unfinished story... an unfinished journey...  an excited young man with an exciting young future... to be continued.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

After giving it some thought...

In my previous post I was able to sit down and speak with Brandon Williams, an Associate Producer over at VH1. Brandon and I both broke into the Reality TV scene together a few years ago, and where I have taken a different path, Brandon still works in Reality, so I thought his keen perspective on the matter would bring some insight to my blog. Brandon had a lot of interesting things to say pertaining to Reality TV, but I wanted to focus on what he said about moving forward and the future of Reality TV. I asked Brandon where he thought Reality TV would be down the road... I for one think and am hoping that the Reality TV bug will have died down a bit, but Brandon offered a different perspective. He said "Reality will have a place on TV for a long time due to several reasons, People like to imagine themselves in situations and reality TV offers that. The poker boom (I classify it as sports and reality TV) of the early 2000s is an example of that. poker can be played by anyone. People can imagine themselves winning all that money, how they were play a hand, how they would react."

I would have to disagree with that... respectfully of course, I feel that Reality TV is just a fad, and like all fads Reality TV will disappear into the fog. For one, Reality really picked up steam during the writers strike a few years back, I think that with more and more up and coming writers looking for work we may end up turning back toward the sitcom as our major form of television entertainment, just as we did in the early 90s with such successes as Seinfeild and Friends. The problem with reality TV is that I don't think it can sustain longevity because a lot of it has the same premise, it cannot continue to re invent itself. Even now I see a lot of redundancy withing the Reality TV realm, there's 20 different real housewives shows, tons of competition shows whether it be cooking ones like Chopped or Top Cher, or designer ones like Project Runway, Mad Fashion etc... At some point viewers will say enough is enough and want a change.

Brandon did bring up a good point when he said  " I think society has a major impact on TV." But that impact will eventually do away with Reality...maybe not entirely but I think there will be a significant decrease in the amount of reality shows that are put out there. Reality TV will always be around in some way shape or form, shows like Cops or even Game shows are a type of Reality Television that will last, but all of these others will eventually meet their demise, at some point, the question is when?

All in all for the time being we will have to put up with the "Jersey Shores" of the world and hope that a sort of Renaissance happens where the glory days of television like 90210, Melrose Place, Saved by the Bell, Fresh Prince of Bell Air, Friends and Seinfeld come back to us.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A different perspective...

As you already know, I have worked in Reality TV for a few years and my experiences are a big reason why I began to write this blog.  I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with a previous colleague of mine who still works in Reality TV as an Associate producer for VH1. I thought by bringing in a different point of view from someone who still works in the genre on a daily basis would be interesting. I was able to ask him a few questions and get his perspective on Reality TV...

Me: for my readers, can you introduce yourself and tell us your name and official title at VH1?

Brandon:  My name is Brandon Williams and I started out as a Production Assistant and for the past 2 years I have been an Associate 
Producer on various shows and projects at VH1.

Me: Whats are some shows that you have worked on? 

Brandon: I have worked on Chopped, Project Runway, Kim and Kourtney take New York, The Entertainer in a basement affair, just to name a few and most recently 40 Champions of Cute and 40 Fails part 2

Me: So how did you get your start in Television production?... 

Brandon: I moved to NYC from outside Boston because I had a connection in reality TV. I'd been trying to break into TV or Film and took the first opportunity I could. This was about July 2009.

Me: Having worked in Reality TV... how do you feel about it?...

Brandon: Reality TV has a place in our culture. Since its inception about 10-15 yeas ago, people have been waiting for it to disappear. I don't think it will at this point but it will shift with our culture. 

Me: That's and interesting perspective, which do you prefer... reality or another genre altogether?

Brandon: I like both sides of TV that I have worked in. I've worked reality and like working it for personal reasons. Usually a bigger crew and the comradery is much better. I've worked on scripted clip shows for VH1 and like that side because I get to be creative and have major input into the show. 

Me: In your opinion, what is Reality TV's effect on society?...

Brandon:  I don't think reality has a major effect on society. I think society has a major impact on TV. (look up OJ Simpson bronco chase). This was the start of a major shift in the way the US wanted to watch TV.

Me: What do you think the future has in store for Reality TV... will it even be around?..

Brandon: Reality will have a place on TV for a long time due to several reasons. People like to imagine themselves in situations and reality TV offers that. The poker boom (I classify it as sports and reality TV) of the early 2000s is an example of that. Poker can be played by anyone. People can imagine themselves winning all that money, how they would  play a hand, how they would react. Reality is very cheap to produce versus scripted TV so the networks and channels would prefer it over any other show, besides Jersey Shore reruns.

I have to send a special thanks to Brandon Williams for giving me some time out of his busy schedule making TV to sit down and talk to me for my blog. I'll let this marinate for a while and on my next blog entry I will post my response to what Brandon said in the interview.