Typing Faster

July 19, 2010

How Do They Find All These Crazy People For Reality Television?

Filed under: Stuff I Like, the biz — petertypingfaster @ 7:00 am

If you’ve spent any time at all watching reality television then you’ve probably wondered where they find these crazy, weird and fascinating people to star in the latest Jersey Shore. There’s a certain train wreck quality to shows like Big Brother that extends, or derives, from the people they choose to appear on the show. I’ve never been able to figure out where these people come from, and even more important, how the hell do reality TV producers find them?

Enter Lisa de Moraes of the Washington Post with a handy article called How to find the next reality-TV superstar, an informative, how to guide for the up-and-coming reality TV producer in search of cast for their latest format.

So what do the biggest LA reality execs look for when they’re trying to find the next big reality TV star? What sets the Kate Gosselin’s and Simon Cowell’s apart from the unwashed masses?

…if you happen to know what the word “excesses” means, those are what the Kate Gosselins, Simon Cowells, Speidis, Snookis, and other reality-TV superstars of this world invariably commit when they catch the slightest whiff of a television camera…and yet…it’s not so simple as…[rounding] up a herd of people who, when confronted by a lens, [begin] to effervesce to an extraordinary extent.

Some reality TV stars are not born great – some have greatness thrust upon them…[you’ll wish you] had a buck for every time a producer of an ensemble docusoap got the gang together before the start of taping and “read them the riot act, saying ‘if you want a hit show, you’ve got to give me A to Z’! Because the most successful ones give A to Z.”

But, no matter how brilliant a reality-TV producer might be, in order for a star to really give that A to Z performance that makes all the difference, it’s critical that he or she have been born without the self-edit gene.

“They have to be completely unguarded – if they’re a recessive character, they’re never going to make it to season 4 or 5,” noted Damia Dogan, VP at E! Entertainment Television.

E!’s reality roster includes not only two lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-trashy shows starring the Kardashian family, but also a series called “Pretty Wild,” described by the network as being about three party-girl sisters trying to make their way into the Hollywood social scene. The most interesting of the three is Alexis Neiers, who, when not trying to become a member of the Hollywood social scene, allegedly was moonlighting as a member of The Bling Gang – a group of people who made the acquaintance of Hollywood celebs like Orlando Bloom and Lindsay Lohan, and then broke into and robbed their houses. Which, happily, makes for an even more interesting reality series: in summer of ’09, after the pilot was shot, Alexis was arrested. Her trial was part of the show. This past May, she pled no contest to felony burglary and was sentenced to up to six months in the hoosegow. Everybody wins!

Right, so all you need is a crazy criminal who wants to be a TV star, and is willing to live out their entire life on camera. That’s not asking too much, is it?


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