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Television

Confessions of a Reality TV Producer

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“As a producer, you could end up ruining lives. Since you need a scandal, you play the devil’s advocate, but that’s a given in TV land”

“As a producer, you could end up ruining lives. Since you need a scandal, you play the devil’s advocate, but that’s a given in TV land”

All reality TV shows are scripted. A plot is written and people are made to perform to that tune. Most participants know that their popularity will only soar if they fight or create a scene, so they play along. They are instigated, rumours are spread, whispers are encouraged and then the actors take a cue and start performing.

On a reality show where a guy is caught cheating by his girlfriend, who you see are just actors; they may not be a real couple. They are paid to act it out. That guy may be happily married with kids but is plotting revenge on his ex-girlfriend because he gets oodles of cash for it. Some shows are true—mainly the ones where people win cash—but even then, contestants are chosen wisely. They have to be people who will either create a scandal or incite emotion.

Working conditions in television studios are atrocious. I have gone without sleep for 36 hours straight. There are shoots for days on end as producers don’t want to pay for a studio for more than three days. Even some directors are annoying, as they shoot everything and anything unnecessarily. Later, editors spend too much time going through all that footage. And you don’t get paid according to the amount of work you put in.
The casting couch doesn’t exist here as much as it does in movies. Yes, people do some crazy stuff during auditions. One lady wanted to show me her breasts for selecting her. There is a lot of competition because every second person now wants to become a TV star.

As a producer, you could end up ruining lives. Since you need a scandal, you play the devil’s advocate, but that’s a given when you enter TV land. It’s a dilemma you face every day. My one and only ethic is that I don’t humiliate anyone—which many people don’t have a problem with.

This producer has been working on films and reality shows for over five years