Book Proposals


“Few Events in a writer’s life are as thrilling as the day your first book is published.”   Robert W. Bly

There’s a lot that goes into planning, writing, and selling a book.  The requirements differ for various types of books.  If you’re writing a novel, you need to finish it, and make it the best book you can, before you begin the process of selling it.  If you write nonfiction, it is usually sold on a proposal that will include several finished chapters and the plan (outline) for the completed book.  While you won’t need a finished manuscript, you will need a complete proposal and a platform.  A platform can be based on who you are as a well-known expert or person of note, or on your subject and the notoriety around that–ideally both.  For most sales, you will need an agent, however, not all.  Textbooks and Romance generally don’t require agent representation.  If you write short stories or essays and hope to publish a collection, your aspirations will be helped considerably by getting your essays published in magazines, or good online publications, first.  This shows that people are interested in your work, you have a following.  It’s one of the many ways you build a platform.  More on platforming later.

This is a nonfiction book proposal.

The proposal is written in the same voice as the manuscript, an irreverent, abrasive, humorous tone.  I hope this helps you understand the format and structure of a proposal, and gives you a good laugh, but please don’t plagiarize any part of it.   That is illegal, unethical and you are better than that.

Frankenbite Me
Confessions of a Reality TV Producer
By Pamela Lane

Frank-en-bite, noun: A sound bite or “quote” created by editing words together to form new sentences, often with meanings not intended by the Reality show contestants who said them vs. the act of perverting a taped interview to suit your needs.  “Just Frankenbite that.”

According to American Demographic magazine, forty-five percent of Americans are “faithful viewers” of Reality TV.  Forty-five percent of 290,000,000 people (2000 US Census) is one-hundred and thirty MILLION people.  The number of people who took the time to write and post on Reality TV websites last year?  One million, three-hundred thousand people who were literate, and passionate, enough to write about their favorite reality shows.  The number of popular (as opposed to academic) books published for that market in the last five years?  Four.

Frankenbite Me is the first tell-all book by an actual reality TV producer to reveal the secrets behind the phenomenon.  How real is Reality?  You are about to find out.  Pamela Lane was a producer on Temptation Island, ElimiDate, Meet My Folks, My Life is a Sitcom, Who Wants to Marry My Dad, Outback Jack and Kept, to name just a few, and she knows the producers of, and the stories behind, the rest.

The book is insidiously funny:

“America may not have invented the obsession with celebrity, but we have certainly beaten it over the head, taken it hostage in our basements and forced it to date us.  It’s like Americans are Lucy and TV is the Copacabana and we’ll do anything to be in the show.”

And revealing:

“He said he was devastated, but sure didn’t act like it.  I’ve got a bug in my ear to the control room, and they’re telling me to make him cry  I tried every angle: the rejection, his connection to the girl, the humiliation, you name it.  The voices in my ear were telling me we had to move on, so I look into the losers eyes and ask, “Have you ever had a dog?”  He nodded.  “Have you ever had a dog get hit by a car?”  He cried.”

Why is she breaking the silence?

“So why am I now risking life, limb and lawsuit to reveal our secrets?  Let’s face it, I’m a reality TV producer.  I’m already going to hell.  I’m looking forward to an eternity of being poked in the ass with a pitchfork by Beelzebub for all the crap I’ve done to reality TV contestants.  I’ve got nothing to lose.”

Are these real tips for real contestants?

Yes, but, “remember your mom telling you to wear clean underpants, just in case you got hit by a bus?  We’re the bus.  Check your underpants.”

Other Books about Reality TV

The Tribe has Spoken; Life lessons from Reality TV, Andrews McMeel Publishing 2004, was a humor book by a guy who liked to watch reality TV.   The Reality TV Handbook; An Insiders Guide, Chronicle Books LLC, 2004, was written by an executive over at ABC, but it’s a serious handbook about how to eat bugs and form alliances.  How to Get on Reality TV, Random House Reference, 2005, is also a serious guide on how to get on these shows, written by someone who does not work in the Reality TV business.  While it’s true that thousands of people really do try out for theses shows, these books may have limited its audience to those people.  And the rest of the books, like: Shooting people: Adventures in Reality TV, Reality TV: Remaking Television Culture, Reality TV: the Work of Being Watched, and Reality TV are all described as “critical studies,” or “fervent analysis,” or “scholarly essays.” Frankenbite Me, is no scholarly tome.

Frankenbite Me is a rowdy tell-all, revealing the stories behind the shows and the tricks behind the trade–and it’s funny.  There’s nothing quite like it because most people in Lane’s position are scared to kill the golden-egg-laying goose.  Why not her?

Why this Writer?

Pamela Lane studied the art of fiction and nonfiction at Rice University, UCLA and Antioch University, where she was awarded the prestigious Eloise Klein Healy scholarship.  She is currently enrolled in Goucher Colleges MFA in creative nonfiction program.  Ms Lane is a thriving book doctor (, writing teacher and a published writer & poet.

She is also a very successful producer in the reality genre, with five years of credits in network reality on top of ten years of producing credits in nonfiction, documentary and newsmagazine shows.  She is part of the inner sanctum of the industry and knows things that no worker bee, production assistant, or contestant, could possibly know.  Even the network execs aren’t in the trenches like she is: the shows don’t want them to know everything.  It is that level of insider knowledge, and a sick sense of humor, that make her the ideal candidate to write this book.

Why Now?

The Reality TV business is still going strong.  The summer of 2019 saw dozens of new network reality shows, many of them hits, and dozens more on cable channels like MTV and VH1. A&E has found the genre so popular that they have become almost entirely reality and FOX has successfully launched an all reality, all the time channel, FOX Reality.  This topic was in the news because the Writers Guild is tried to unionize reality and change the draconian conditions these people work under.  Americas Next Top Model saw the writers walk out on strike in 2008.
The lawsuits and recriminations have gone on for years.

“On Temptation Island we were required to work seven days a week with a 36 hour shift every fourth day, with no sleep, to keep an eye on the potentially horny contestants–even though they were monitored  electronically every minute of the day by a team of surveillance specialists perched high above their island paradise in a scenario more CIA than Girls Gone Wild.”

People want to know, is it fake?  Why are there writers?  Why do they call it reality?  All of that is answered in the book. Unless you believe that disparate groups of people simultaneously shipwreck on islands, get trapped in houses or fall in love with the same person, on camera, by chance, then you know that the reality on reality TV is manipulated by people like me.  What you may not know is how much we manipulate that reality.

After this book, they’ll know. And they’ll have a good time finding out.


The side benefit of publishing a tell-all by a television professional is that she has connections to TV talk and newsmagazine shows and knows how to promote to radio, both drive time and talk radio, and set-up personal appearances.  Ms. Lane is smart, funny and articulate in person and she knows the many spins on her work and how to promote the stories in various ways to numerous news and entertainment outlets–not to mention the internet, which has dozens of sites devoted to Reality TV.  Ms Lane is dedicated to using her many skills and resources to make this book a bestseller.

In addition, the legal, business and ethical issues facing the unionization of Reality TV will be news for the foreseeable future, likely leading to a general writers strike at the end of the current contract period. The Writers Guild of America has implemented a viral campaign and other news-making tactics against the networks.  News and talk shows, and the print media, will want an expert from the trenches during the battles to come.  Ms. Lane is not only an experienced producer, but on the WGA organizing committee for Reality TV.

The Look & Length

The book has lots of chapters, bullet-point lists and boxes with facts and quotes to break it up and make the appearance, as well as the content, light and easy to read.  Under 200 pages.

Time Line

The book could be ready in three to six months.

The Sample Chapters

Attached are the Table of Contents (outline) and sample chapters (sans the boxed quotes and facts).  Enjoy!

Frankenbite Me

Confessions of a Reality TV Producer


Pamela Lane

Table of Contents


  • Who I Am
  • What Our Motives Are
  • Secrets & Hell

Why do it?

  • Celebrity
  • The Facts
  • Screen Time
  • Are You Insane?
  • Buses and Underpants

Choosing a Genre & Casting Tips

  • Make-Overs
  • Relationship Shows
  • Life & Death Survival
  • Docusoaps/ Celeb-Reality
  • Dwarf Tossing (failures)

The Initial Interview (and every one after)

The First Commandments of Reality

  • Nice is boring
  • TV hates boring
  • Never be boring

This is only a Test

  • Psychological Testing:  It’s not what you might think; we want you to be crazy, just not Ted Bundy crazy.
  • Physicals:  We don’t actually want to kill you.
  • STDs We lost 75% of the prospective cast members for Temptation Island due to failing the STD testing.

The Cast of Characters

  • The Jock
  • The Joker
  • The Snob
  • The Freak
  • The Stalker
  • The Best Friend
  • The Sincere One
  • The Lover
  • The Loner
  • The Big Talker
  • The Token Ugly Person
  • The Drama Queen
  • The Bully
  • The Egomaniac
  • The first one Eliminated (what did I say about being boring?)

What to Expect

  • Day 1
  • Bring a snack We don’t feed you, well not regularly
  • The big lie nothing takes five-minutes, yet we will tell you that everything does. 
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Don’t look at the cameras
  • Don’t look for the cameras
  • Interviews, just when you thought it was safe to eat, or sleep, or pee, its time for your interview

Why we don’t care about you

  • On Temptation Island we were required to work seven days a week with a 36 hour-shift every fourth day, with no sleep, to keep an eye on the potentially horny contestants–even though they were monitored electronically every minute of the day by a team of surveillance specialists perched high above their island paradise in a scenario more CIA than Girls Gone Wild.  Your four hours of sleep are likely four more than we got, so don’t bother complaining.

Cliches (memorize these & use liberally)

  • The game is on, you haven’t seen anything yet, I can only do my best, I’m giving it 150%, I cant believe he did that, I thought she was my friend, you can’t keep me down, it’s all real to me now, what a backstabber, no more Mr. nice guy, mark my words, I think it could go either way, it’s anybody’s game, I’ve got everything riding on this, I’m your worst nightmare, this is a dream come true, he’s tough as nails, I thought I had a thick skin, I’m pulling out all the stops, I feel it in the pit of my stomach, I’m in it for the experience, when push comes to shove, when the rubber meets the road, fight fire with fire, I’m here to win, that’s awesome. 

Conversate is not a word

  • Bad trends started by reality TV, you too could be a negative influence on society.

How to Succeed

  • Lay-off the honor bar
  • Speak in sound bites
  • Drink heavily  (just not from the honor bar)
  • You can’t outsmart us
  • Actor Schmactor
  • Don’t vandalize the set
  • Have sex in the bathroom (its the only place we have no cameras)
  • Don’t be a snitch (at least don’t get caught)

Anti-Darwin:  Survival of the unfittest

  • How they win

Probable Outcomes

  • You lose
  • You don’t lose
  • You lose and are humiliated
  • You don’t lose and are humiliated

What happens after you go home.

  • Hundreds of hours of tape = six hours of show
  • Did that really happen?
  • Who said that? Frankenbites, your words, our agenda
  • What happened to?  The cutting room floor
  • Your personality traits magnified
  • Totally made-up shit that we created in editing
  • Reinterviews, don’t dye your hair or shave your head, we might want you back.
  • “I’m going to turn the camera off.”  On Married by America, Tony brought two of the hooker/strippers from his bachelor party back to his room to ease his pre-wedding jitters.  We didn’t turn the cameras off.

The Future of Reality TV

  • We’re here to stay, just don’t get so hung-up on the “real.”

Please note:  the actual manuscript pages (what follows here) should be double-spaced, in addition to the punctuation marks not importing, the spacing does not import into this website–and I’ve fixed it (I’m an editor after-all) but it doesn’t hold.

Frankenbite Me

Confessions of a Reality TV Producer


Pamela Lane


I started my career in nonfiction television on documentaries and newsmagazine shows.  The first true “Reality” show I worked on was Temptation Island 2.  Don’t ask me how unleashing four seriously dysfunctional couples on a tropical island (which was actually a peninsula) full of bikini-clad predators qualifies as reality.  Unless you believe that disparate groups of people simultaneously shipwreck on islands, get trapped in houses or fall in love with the same person, on camera, by chance, then you know that the reality on Reality TV is manipulated by people like me.  What you may not know is how much we manipulate that reality.

For example, I was a producer on the NBC comedy-reality show, Meet My Folks.  On the show, three young guys or gals would vie for the affections of one single of the opposite sex during a weekend at his or her parents house.  The parents would choose the date.  On one episode, we had a guy who cried at everything; time for dinner, he’d weep; everyone in the hot tub, he’d choke up.  He seemed to have made a real connection with the bachelorette, but her parents eliminated him (all that crying was annoying).  In a process called the exit interview, I rushed in to interview him–we like to get in quick while the emotion is still raw and uncensored.  I worked this guy and worked him, but he was suddenly a stone.  He said he was devastated, but sure didn’t act like it.  I’ve got a bug in my ear to the control room, and they’re telling me to make him cry.  Not like I didn’t already know that, every show is sold on emotion, if contestants don’t care when they lose, then the audience wont care–not to mention he’d been crying for two days, why stop now?  I tried every angle, the rejection, his connection to the girl, the humiliation, you name it.  The voices in my ear were telling me we had to move on, so I look into the loser’s eyes and ask, “Have you ever had a dog?”  He nodded.  “Have you ever had a dog get hit by a car?”  He cried. 

The real part of Reality TV may be how you (the potentially real contestant) react to our manipulations.  But, I’m not supposed to be telling you this.

In 2001, as a condition of my employment on T. I. 2 (Like ocean liners and world wars, we abbreviate and number the classics), I was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement which stipulated that I would be sued for five million (yes, million) dollars if I told anybody anything about the show.  We were warned that if secrets leaked before the final episode aired, Jean Val Jean and the one-armed-man would have nothing on us–we’d be pursued to the ends of the earth.  They even had an entire day of briefings to warn us about tabloid reporters lurking everywhere, ready to pay us, or trick us, or kidnap our loved-ones and force us, to spill our secrets.  No one could be trusted–the tabloids could get to them.  Now I know where the KGB went when the Soviet Union dissolved, they all got jobs at the National Enquirer and the Star. 

It might seem pretty stupid, but even the most inconsequential shows still guard their secrets rabidly.  I recently worked on a big VH1 series which shot in London.  I wasn’t there for the final elimination, as I was already back in L.A. editing the first episodes, so I asked a Jr. Suit from the network, over the phone, who had won.  He refused to tell me.  It seemed that telephone and Internet lines were not secure enough for this information; it could only be passed from person to person in a secure location.  The Cone of Silence perhaps?

So why am I now risking life, limb and lawsuit to reveal our secrets?  Let’s face it, I’m a reality TV producer.  I’m already going to hell.  I’m looking forward to an eternity of being poked in the ass with a pitchfork by Beelzebub for all the crap I’ve done to reality TV contestants.  I’ve got nothing to lose.

That said, the information in this book comes from an amalgam of shows that I have worked on and shows that my friends have worked on–and thats just about every reality show in history, except that midget dating show, The Littlest Groom, on Fox.  I actually don’t know anyone who will confess to working on that show.  I did watch it however–come on, little people with golf clubs, thats an hour of must-see-tee-vee.

From the way we choose contestants to the way we distill hundreds of hours of videotape into a few minutes of TV, this book is full of our secrets.  There’s the stuff you saw, the stuff we couldn’t let you see, and the stuff you thought you saw that never actually happened, at least not the way you think it did. 

The stories and tips that follow are real, why someone would want to use them to get tortured on TV by people like me is anyone’s guess.

Chapter One
Why Be a Reality TV Star?
America may not have invented the obsession with celebrity, but we have certainly beaten it over the head, taken it hostage in our basements and forced it to date us.  Its like Americans are Lucy and TV is the Copacabana and well do anything to be in the show.  Just watch one of those low speed police chases that interrupt your favorite shows, helicopters whirring overhead, not a roach-in-a-barrel-of-Raid chance of escaping, to see what I mean. Those guys aren’t trying to get-away, they’re primping for their television debut. 

At least on the news they don’t have to get a release from the Perp to use their faces–on Cops the criminals actually have to sign an agreement to appear on TV or they’ll have their faces blurred-out.  Judging by the number of unblurred faces, most criminals in their underwear (what happened to all of their shirts?) would rather be publicly humiliated than miss their close-up.

I did this bounty hunter show for UPN and I had to ride along with my camera crew on busts of reasonably dangerous criminals who had jumped bail.  The only crime which they were being arrested for was the bail-jumping thing; however they had each been accused of other crimes to end up needing bail in the first place.  After they were tasered, tackled or pounded into submission, I got to interview them.  Handcuffed, light in their eyes, camera in their faces, they not only signed their TV releases, but they invariably confessed to the crime with which they were originally charged–and lots of miscellaneous crimes as well.  Why confess on national TV?  What’s the possible motivation to spend the next couple of years playing hide the salami with some big bruiser in the joint?  They got an extra minute of screen time–I’m ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille.  I suspect it is for similar motives that a lot of folks humiliate themselves on Reality TV.

Sure, I always dreamed of being on the Johnny Carson Show, sitting between Johnny and Ed, shooting the shit.  Then all the kids who were mean to me would be sorry because I would be the coolest person on earth, nannie-nannie-boo-boo-stick-your-head-in-do-do.  But, Johnny died before he made his comeback and put me on the show, so the dream died with him.  I do not have a dream of eating raw Llama penises in spinal fluid, or of living-out scenes from Sybil with a dozen other nut-jobs vying for one lame bachelor.  

But, if that’s your dream, I don’t want to be the one to discourage you.  We need people like you, or we’d be out of work.  I do, however want to keep from sliding any further down Dante’s seven levels of hell.  I figure about now I’ve got a reservation for the eternal Small World tea-cup ride–spinning and puking to an endless loop of that insidious, soul-sucking, Its a Small World, After All (admit it, it’s already working it’s way into your brainpan, go ahead, sing out loud).  I certainly don’t want to upgrade to the, stuck head down in a vat of excrement for all eternity level of hell.  So let me explain a few facts to you…

Its not really 15 minutes of fame; its 15 minutes of shame.  We want to bring your skeletons out of the closet for a little dance.  Yee-hah.  Really, what makes you think your outcome will be any different than the girl whose youthful foray into soft-core porn turned-up on the show?  Or the U.S. Marine on the hetero-dating show whose side-job, stripping-in-gay-bars, was revealed on National TV?  You can bet that was a proud moment for his buddies back at the base.

We don’t pay unless the show is a contest and you win.  But chances are you’ll lose.  Nothing personal, but there’s only one winner which means there are a bunch of losers.  I’m not saying that you’re a loser, but get used to it. 

Most shows do pay a per diem, which is Latin for “barely enough to cover your bar tab.”  Thats right, some networks don’t overtly condone heavy drinking–they do however provide a cash bar.  And cash.  And motivation to drink.  Heavily.  Don’t worry, most shows do provide the booze, so you can save your per diem for hookers to help you forget all the ways you’ve just embarrassed yourself and any future generations who might happen to spring from your loins.  Actually, it might be more than you are currently making on unemployment or welfare.

My Last Word on This Topic

Are your parents dead, or do you just hate them?  Have you seen these shows?  Do you want your grandma to hear you admit (probably while you’re drunk) that you once had a “relationship” with a goat, she-male, high-school teacher, porn star or the football team?  Then there’s the guy who bragged about having sex with his girlfriend’s mom–you can bet that came back to bite him on the butt.  And there’s always and other websites devoted to exposing your dirty laundry. 

Remember your mom telling you to wear clean underpants just in case you got hit by a bus?  We’re the bus.  Check your underpants.

Chapter Two

Pick Your Poison
Still not discouraged?  Good for you.  America needs more free-thinkers like you.  When you get off the show, I believe there’ll be a National Guard recruiter waiting at your car.

Since you can’t be scared away, lets get you started on the road to Reality TV Stardom.  First, the basics:  There are all types of reality shows, some more benign than others.  Here is a list of the types and how to start the casting process.

Make-over Shows

There are make-over shows for everything.  We’ll make-over your career, relationships, home, garage, car, wardrobe, manners, love life, face, parenting style, you name it.  If you get on a makeover show, you’ll get free stuff.  Free stuff is usually good.  I say usually because some stuff comes with side-effects, like the couple who got divorced because she got the big make-over and he liked her just the way she was before–bad teeth, saggy boobs and all.  She became a beauty queen and their relationship changed.  If someone loves you just the way you are, count your blessings and stay away from us.  If you have a great relationship and you’re willing to screw it up for giant boobs, then you don’t need a plastic surgeon, you need a psychiatrist.  Happy people may want to try the yoga channel.  Embrace your inner troll.  That’s all the therapy you’ll get from me. 

If you are unconditionally-unloved, unhappy, or just plain unlucky, you could wind-up with a new room, house, spouse, kids, face and/or body.  These are relatively good shows.  The only secrets we want to expose are the ones you revealed to get on the show in the first place.  I’m not saying that your abject unpopularity, litany of failures or physical defects will make you proud, but we probably won’t get you drunk and ask about your masturbation habits, secretly tape you making-out with a stranger (while drunk), or repeat rumors intended to start a fight with another (probably drunk) contestant.

Are you seeing a theme here?

Sure, you might work your fingers to bloody nubs for 48 hours on a flakey design your best friend will never forgive you for, but you’ll also get a room (which you might also hate) redecorated for free.  And, chances are that the reason you had a butt the size of Uranus will probably cause your ass to spread again–so enjoy that liposuction while you can.  Of course, the boobs will last and boobs that size will distract everyone from your once-again-giant behind.  The lessons you’ll learn from being exchanged with someone else’s spouse will probably be squandered with the money you’ll win (yes, they do get money or prizes), but the nanny tips for those screaming animals you call children might just make a difference.  My advice?  Go for it. 

How to Start the Casting Process

Surf the web.  Check the network sites for hyperlinks to the shows you’re interested in, if they are casting, the submission details will be on their websites.  Look for new postings on Craig’s List ( and follow their instructions.  Write the producers a letter; enclose a video, or an e-mail with attached photos.  Martyr yourself to the cause.  If you’re submitting a tape, remember that weeping is always effective for these shows, but don’t be too obvious.  First be clever, crack some jokes, then as you approach the reason they should pick you, try and be brave, but fail by quivering your bottom lip while you tell your tale of woe, then let the tears fall as you feign embarrassment for the display of emotion.  Can’t cry on command?  Think about your road-pizza of a dead Sparky or Fluffy (everyone has one).  You’re a tough little soldier, but sometimes its just more than you can bear.

The rest of the casting tips are pretty simple:

1.      For exchange room makeovers, where you and your neighbor exchange rooms and redecorate with the help of professionals:  These shows have been around for a while, so they’re all “been there, done that” about casting.  They’re looking for interesting, fresh stories.  Are you a Siamese twin who is happily married to a Siamese twin with twin patio homes on an active lava flow?  You’re in!

2.      For free room make-overs (no labor exchange):  Know someone on the staff, we like to help out our buddies.  We all have cool rooms now.  You want one?  Hang around the HGTV or E! commissaries.  Make friends.  We like home-baked goodies, shoulder massages and empty compliments (not necessarily in that order).

3.      For personal makeovers:  Be pitifully ugly with a pitifully sad personal history.  Creativity helps here.  You can’t just say, “I have a nose like a cucumber and everyone teases me.”  You have to make it bigger (not your nose, the story).  For example:  “All my life I have been ostracized, left friendless and alone because of my giant schnozz.  My nose won’t fit into my oxygen mask when I’m fighting fires.  At my volunteer-job at the orphanage, even the nuns tease me.  I would be in combat right now, fighting for freedom and the American way in (insert conflict here) where I would gladly throw myself on a live grenade to save the others, if only my snout would fit under the helmet.  Yes, I am appealing to you to save dozens, perhaps hundreds, of brave American lives–who just might not make it home without me and my newly petite proboscis.”  Of course, you’ll want to adapt it to your own worst features and your own job and relationship woes, but the patriotism and hero angles always work.  If you have a snapshot of yourself saving a kitten from a tree, Photoshop the old red, white and blue onto your bulging bicep, forehead, shirt, whatever, and send it on in.  You’ve got nothing to lose (except the aforementioned snout).  Good luck to you.

4.      For complete home makeovers:  Live in a pitifully ugly house with a pitifully sad family history.  It helps if you have one or more family members with a disability or fatal illness.  We love that stuff, “The heartbreak of psoriasis devastates entire family, pictures at eleven.”  You, or your kids, will probably be teased mercilessly for the tragic lifestyle you wisely used-to conceal, but you’ve got a cool new hacienda, so screw em.

5.      Nanny shows:  Give birth to a bunch of hideously nasty brats and don’t be afraid to expose the rotten parenting techniques that got them that way.  You will be judged badly by your peers, but consider yourself and your kids lucky that you weren’t allowed to screw them up any worse than you already have.

6.      Talent Contests:  Talent would seem a good place to start, but we all remember William Hung, who proved that in America talent is not a prerequisite for stardom.  How a goofy-looking nerd who was possibly the worst singer on earth cut multiple albums and DVDs is a testament to the bizarre power of Reality TV.  If you guys hadn’t been ponying up your cash, there would never have been an actual CD called, Hung for the Holidays. 

If you are actually talented you might win American Idol or Rock Star or any of the other clones and that really will change your life.

Rock Star INXS (which, by the way, was forced to change the spelling of Rock Star by an energy drink of the same name), like American Idol, was actually aired as they were shooting.  The contestants were sequestered together in a house, so they had no idea how popular the show was, or how popular they were.  They did find out how the live audiences were reacting to their shows however.  One night, Marty and JD disappeared from the house–they crawled over a fence and escaped.  The crew finally found them in a bar.  They were strutting around to see who recognized them–they wanted to see if they had become the Beatles yet.

General tip:  These shows need big personalities with strong viewpoints.  Nobody is swapping you with another husband/ wife unless your radically weird point-of-view will tweak somebody off.  Shy, quiet, unconditionally-loving folks need not apply–unless you’re also pitifully unattractive or have birthed the Antichrist.

Relationship shows

Dating shows are probably the easiest shows to get on, unless you’re ugly–then see the previous section and come back after they remove the stitches.  Dating shows require no special skills, except that you’re young, single and look reasonably good.  Some, like ElimiDate, travel, so you could embarrass yourself right in your own home town.  There are a lot of these shows with more always coming down the runway, so they need an endless supply of singles.  In fact, if you watch them with any regularity, you’ll see the same faces from show to show.  Later, I’ll teach you how to become one of these repeat offenders.

One word of advice: lying about your single status can cause it to become a self-fulfilling prophesy.  I’m not talking about whether or not you’re married, we do serious background checks–don’t even try to lie about that.  But if you think you’ll still go home to that boy or girlfriend after they’ve seen you make-out with someone else on National TV, well good luck with that.  This is especially true on shows where we isolate you for days or weeks, like TheBachelor, Average Joe, Beauty and the Geek, etc.  I’ve seen the best intentions mangled by the mass hysteria of being in a herd competing for the one cow or bull.  That’s why we don’t really care if you lie about being engaged or having a boy or girlfriend–it almost never affects your behavior once you’re on the show, the longer youre there, the less you think of ole Billy Bob or Clara Sue back home.  Chances are, by the time the show airs, you really will be single.

Casting for dating shows

The internet tips above work for all shows, plus check-out MTV networks casting sites for new shows that don’t have websites up yet.  There are like a million channels in the MTV family, which is the face of the giant media monster, Viacom.  Theres a channel for aging rockers (VH1), young hipsters (MTV), cowboys and girls (CMT), rappers (BET), gays (LOGO), not gays (Spike), and transgender Albanian Yetis (YUK).

The pool for dating shows has been so over-fished that we actually send casting producers out to find you.  They go to malls, bars, events and universities to scour the crowds looking for you, so stop going out looking like you just rolled out of your cardboard box in the alley.  That’s not a fashion statement, that’s just bad hygiene.

Casting producers are usually armed with digital cameras and give out business cards with their contact info.  They don’t wear signboards or rent kiosks; they’ll just approach you and ask you a few questions.  You may be asked to fill out an info sheet if they think you’re cute, or if they think your friend is cute and they don’t want to hurt your feelings.  They do not use camera phones.  They do not ask you to come out to their cars, or to go home with them for an audition.  Those are not casting producers, they are molesters.

Molesters are often confused with people who work in reality TV, but we never touch you.  Actually, thats not true, much like Paula Abdul who may or may not have had sex with some delinquent semi-studly contestant; there are always people on our side of the camera who will be happy to touch you.  Of course, touching you will get us fired.  Unless our bosses are touching you too, which does happen on some shows, usually on shows that are shot out of town.

On one show, a randy crew member hooked up with an equally horny contestant for an illicit tryst in a remote bathroom.  Apparently, the blood had completely drained from their brains as they forgot about the house cameras.  The house cameras, some hidden, some in plain sight, all feed into a bank of monitors in the control room where we follow the story and think of new ways to torture you.  Even in real houses, or forests, or islands, nowhere near a studio, we build control rooms (or tents, or garages) called Video Villages.  We spend our days sweating, or freezing our asses off, at these Video Villages watching the monitors and whispering, or shouting, directions into microphones that feed into headsets sending staff and crew scurrying to do our bidding like a bunch of termites.

On this particular day, the house cams caught the technician with one of the bachelorettes.  We suspected a couple of crew members had been monkeying around with her, (late visits to her bedroom/ bathroom for technical problems) but had no proof–who would be stupid enough to get caught?  Anyway, the horn-dog crew-member got fired, but she made it to the finals.  She claimed to love the bachelor and the bachelor liked her best, but he was serious about a relationship–short of telling him that she was a big whore, we were in a quandary.  Do we let him make a fool of himself and probably get his heart broken?  Do we risk prison by tampering with a game show?  We didn’t tell him, but we did make sure that the other girl had every opportunity to shine.  He miraculously chose the non-whore.  Whew.  I guess thats the difference between reality TV and reality–in real life, any man would have chosen the beautiful, buxom slutty girl over the skinny, probably frigid, nice girl, no contest.

There are plenty of other stories of crew and producers touching contestants, but considering how many of these shows there have been, its a tiny fraction of the total possibilities.  I’d love to tell you who touched whom, however I might want to work again.  Suffice it to say that touching any of us will not help you win, if we find out, it will probably help you lose.  Now, back to casting 

We also cast through modeling and talent agents and agency breakdowns.  No, were not cheating by grabbing the next young DeNiro and faking it.  The truth is, we dont think of you as an actor, we just think it’s an easy way to find beautiful-looking young people who aren’t smart enough to figure-out our tricks.  We live in LA, so we know that actor is just another word for waiter, personal trainer and receptionist.  If you were a real actor, you’d never agree to be on a reality show.  We are the anti-actor.  That would be like the Pope doing a Public Service Announcement for condoms.

Finally, listen to the radio.  Not news radio or the opera channel, listen to the cool morning drive-time DJs who annoy the crap out of you by talking all the time instead of playing music.  We turn to those guys because they’re egomaniacs who love the sound of their own voices and will do free promotion just to be associated with TV, to which all radio-people aspire.  They all want to be the next Ryan Seacrest.  Except the really ugly ones–which would be a great sob-story for a make-over show.  If you’re an ugly DJ, just tell ’em I sent you.  Hey, look at what plastic surgery and a penis extension did for Howard Stern (just kidding, Howard’s lawyers).

From ElimiDate to The Bachelor; Kept to Date my Mom, you should know that being the prize, the bachelor or bachelorette, as opposed to one of the herd, will protect you.  We always protect the prize.  Unless you decide to expose your shaved testicles on camera, over cocktails, then you’re on your own (have you watched ElimiDate?  This is more common than you might think).

If you do decide to throw brain function to the wind and become a contestant, the best way to make an initial impression is to pay attention to the clues in the posting and be exactly what they want.  What are they looking for?  Usually they are looking for beautiful, in-shape twenty-somethings who are just smart enough to find their own butts with both hands.  But, not always–they might be looking for older bachelors and bachelorettes (Meet My Kids, Who Wants to Marry my Dad), mother-daughter teams (Date My Mom), or nerdy types (Average Joe, Beauty and the Geeks), and if they are, you’d best send in a photo of yourself in horn-rimmed glasses and a plaid shirt, have a reasonably hot mom, or be over thirty.

I once tried to cast this reality pilot in which the heroes were geeks.  We needed real geeks, as opposed to nerds or dorks, so they could use their savant-like expertise about all things scientific to help others.  We put postings on internet sites where geeks hang-out, and not having the requisite social skills to master human contact, geeks do hang out on-line.  Our listings started, “Are you a Geek?”  We posted on top computer science, technology, sci-fi and comic book sites.  There were no responses.  Now, we knew everyone at these sites were geeks, but the trouble was, they didn’t seem to know it–or they didn’t want to admit it.  If we had asked “Do you know any geeks?” we would have gotten a jillion responses, but to the question, “Are you a geek?” we got bupkis. We actually cast the show by hitting the malls and universities and asking the bad-hair-sporting, pocket-protector-wearing, comic-book-carrying, engineering-student-virgins-at thirty-types if they used to be geeks. 

So, read the postings carefully, do an honest evaluation, ask your friends if necessary, and if the glove fits…

Of course, most shows need all types of reasonably attractive twenty-somethings: best friends, conceited narcissists, class clowns, over-educated, rich & spoiled, street wise, jocks, ass kissers, assholes, sluts (especially for dating shows which are shot in bars, you know who they are), drunks (see previous category) and too-smart-to-be-on-the-show.  You might think that most of you would fall into the last category, but you’d be wrong.  Everybody thinks they’re going to outsmart us, but they never do.  Why?  Let me tell you a story:

On Temptation Island 2, some of the contestants had seen the first season, (frankly, I can’t believe they hadn’t all seen the first season, I don’t advise going on a show you’ve never seen) so these smarty-pants would advise the others on what would happen next.  For example: We told them each to pick their favorite single for a romantic all-day date, so a smart girl who had seen the show before told everyone that we would eliminate whomever they picked, because we did that on the first season.

Consequently, they all picked the person they hated most.  We made sure they spent as much time as they could as close to the person they hated as possible.  Why?  Because those boxes attached to your waists are radio transmitters, and the wire running up to your chest with the little oval thing on the end is a microphone.  We can hear everything you say.  We are God-like in our omniscience.  Even if we were stupid enough to plan both series with the same twists, which we are not, we are not stupid enough to let you outsmart us.  We listen to your plotting and do exactly the opposite of what you expect.  That’s why we are the producers and you are checking your underpants.

Life or Death Struggle

Obviously Fear Factor; The Apprentice, and its rip-offs, The Benefactor and The Rebel Billionaire; Amazing Race, and its quickly canceled, evil twin, Lost (how many times can you say “do you speak English” in one episode); Survivor, and all the Survivor copy-cats, like Im a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here! belong in this group, but so does Top Model and their rip-offs, Project Runway, The Cut & Manhunt; Real World; Big Brother (the twice-canceled Under one Roof was UPN’s bad homage to BB); Flab to Fab & The Biggest Loser; The Surreal Life; The Scholar and Hell’s Kitchen where strangers must live together under one roof without getting alcohol poisoning or being stabbed with a butter knife.

Even Cold Turkey where cigarette addicts are forced to suddenly quit qualifies.  Actually, I suspect most of those guys would rather eat live roaches or prance around on a catwalk in a thong, than quit smoking.

This brings up a good point–when you respond to an ad or posting for a new reality show, you might want to ask some very specific questions, like: why do you want smokers?  Why do I need an STD test for this?  Or, how would I know if I were allergic to boars urine?  Remember, we want to trick you.  Its so much more fun if you show up expecting a ballet and we give you a monster truck rally.

One of my favorite moments from my years in reality TV was when a dozen gorgeous young women, attired in their prom dresses, went to a Malibu mansion to meet their bachelor only to discover that we were putting them on a plane to Australia. Eighteen hours later they were given parachutes and pushed out over the Outback.  Watching them hike through the desert in prom dresses and high heals is still one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.  What made Outback Jack (the best reality show you’ve never seen) so funny was that they never saw any of this coming.  We want to trick you.

Casting tips for Survival Shows

The tape is the thing for these shows.  You must create a tape which will stun us.  I’m not talking about Paris Hilton sex-tape stunning (unless you’re a has-been Celeb and Surreal Life is your holy grail, then sex-tape in the news will help you); I’m talking about cut-through-the-other-ten-thousand-tapes stunning.  First, risking your life in an elaborate, dangerous stunt is probably not worth it, we’ve seen it all before and being insane may not be a good recommendation if we are going to be stuck with you for a prolonged period of time.  Also, making a fake set and acting like you are already on the show is really, really tired.  Thousands of people before you have said, “The tribe has spoken,” or “you’re fired” or “you’re hired” please, please, don’t put us through that again.  You don’t want me to remind you of poor Rover, or Spot again, do you?

What we are looking for are great characters.  See the above descriptions for the character types; the difference is that on most of these shows everyone doesn’t have to be young and beautiful.  Of course, MOST of them have to be young and beautiful, as this is TV, but not all of them.

Back to the tape: We want you to showcase your personality in a creative way. If it is a team show, like Amazing Race, we want you to showcase the dynamics of your team.  That is really all we care about, even though the show treks around the planet, what makes the show great are the relationships under that pressure.  We’ll give you a thorough physical, so telling us how healthy you are won’t matter.  Telling us about your travel, or the survival trekking you’ve done wont matter–unless you are the world’s record holder or it is somehow unique (like: you’ve never left your hometown, ever) it won’t get you a shot–being funny, clever, odd, compelling, interesting or genuinely weird, will.  Previous favorite audition tapes include the two brothers who showcased the nature of their relationship by arguing and sabotaging each other while they try and get to their car and the female little-person lifting her full-sized sister like a bag-o-potatoes.  I think I speak for everyone on the planet when I say we all love scrappy little-people. Verne driving his scooter buck-naked and peeing in the corner on The Surreal Life was a classic TV moment if there ever was one.

A quick note about The Amazing Race: this is one of the shows that remain true to the documentary process, we don’t manipulate the contestants (beyond the tasks they must accomplish to move on).  There are other shows that don’t condone screwing with the competition (I know someone who got banned from working on Survivor because he gave a starving cast member his Balance Bar) but they are few and far between.  All Reality shows rely on good casting and creative set-ups or competitions; some rely exclusively on good casting and creative set-ups or competitions.

Fear Factor is unique to this genre as it is a stand-alone cross between a game show and a reality show–each episode has different contestants and the game is always forefront.  We don’t have a lot of time to get to know the contestants as they are super busy risking their lives and trying not to vomit.  For this show its handy to have a really big personality AND a gimmick.  If you’re Miss America, Mr. Universe, a Nobel Prize Laureate, in the President’s Cabinet or the center ring at Barnum and Baileys, (these last two are often confused, so label your tape clearly) and you’ve tamed your gag-reflex, then you have a good shot.


Docusoaps are ongoing stories with repeating characters, but no challenges, rewards or winners.  Sometimes the settings are contrived; Real World on MTV gathers a bunch of kooky kids in one cool house to see what happens.  They certainly get messed with by us to ramp-up the action.  For this classic, be twenty-something, be an outrageous character and make a great tape.

NBC has really embraced the trend with Starting Over, which runs daily in soap opera territory, mid-day.  It features different women each season (and a season of men) who also live in one house, but instead of partying they’re facing soap opera-like problems with the help of doctors and life coaches to try and improve their miserable lives.  It’s a Weepy Estrogen Fest, but daytime TV had been getting jiggy with WEF for decades.  Welcome back, Queen for a Day.  Getting on this show is much the same process as the make-over shows above–be miserable, prepared to show-off all your stanky laundry, and have a high tolerance for public humiliation.  Tip: research previous seasons, so your problem comes off as different, no one does the same story twice.

The Osbornes was probably the first and best of the celeb family docusoap genre and they have been followed by lots and lots of celebs who should know better.  I’m not saying that if your career is on the skids (or you’ve really had no career at in all, in the case of Anna Nichole Smith) that it’s not good to give it a shot in the old bicep by plastering your mug all over TV.  That is good.  What I’m saying is that if you’re a hideous caricature of your former self, or if you were some kind of princess over in Europe, and your claim to fame here is that you’ve given birth and you change your own diapers, please just get over yourselves.  Who cares?  We have seen a truly dysfunctional family, with real child-rearing issues and substance abuse problems and they made us love them.  The fat-lady already sang in that genre–the bar has been set.  You dont stand a chance to be more than a brake-to-stare-at-the-gory-accident-then-speed-away unless you capture our hearts like to Osbornes did and we are a tough crowd. 

I thought Farrah Fawcett did a serviceable job of not embarrassing herself, although her show seemed pointless and over-edited, I found Farrah herself to be so likable that the show worked for me.  I was prepared to like Wayne Newton’s show too (I tried to throw my panties on the stage last time I was in Vegas, but I was too far back and they landed on some old lady’s head), but we didn’t get to see enough of him.  He wisely kept a proverbial ten-foot-pole between his private life and the camera.  May I say for myself and all his many fans, “Why Wayne, why?”

The many young pop-idols (newlywed and not) shows have not done it for me, although some have found huge success in the ratings and the tabloids.  Whoops, there goes the marriage.  The up-side of this trend is that the shows survive as a document of the blink-and-you-missed-it nature of celebrity pairings.  It’s better than a wedding video–at least for them.

Stars have agents, so I’m not here to give advice to stars, however rising or falling they may be.  Unless you’re a star with a kooky life that you want to make into a reality show, then have your agent call my agent right away.

Casting Tips for Docusoaps

Lets talk about shows that you might have a shot at.  Are you related to a famous mobster?  Football player?  Hotel Heiress?  Saudi Prince?  Mick Jagger?  Wait, those have already been done.  If you have some connection to fame, and are interesting, and desperate enough to let us stick cameras in your life 24/7, then there might be a future for you in Reality TV.

In this genre, which I like to call, have you no pride pandering off your famous last name? or HYNPPOYFLN.  In HYNPPOYFLN, people with little or no talent get to parlay their (often distant) relationship with some famous person into a TV show about themselves.  The actual famous person doesn’t even show-up (except for the heiress who, surprise, wanted to be on TV).

The cable channels who buy these shows have a condition called, Osbornes envy without an Osbornes budget.  In the immortal words of the Bard, “to sleep, perchance to dream,” wake-up buddy, you’re dreaming if you think these people are even vaguely interesting.  However, the cable channel execs possibly drug-induced dementia is your gain.  If you fall into the above category, you’ll want to contact a producer or production company.  You can find a production company name listed at the end of your favorite reality show, jot it down, then look up their website and send them a note.  If you don’t have a favorite reality show, or you think that is an oxymoron, just check out the website for this book and contact me.  I’m just a moron, no oxy about it, but if I can exploit you for money then I’m moronic like a fox.  Whoops, now I’m pandering.

For the losers out there who have to make it through life with no famous coat-tails to cling to, there is another genre of docusoap that has become increasingly popular–the family business show.  So far there have been mortuary owners, bounty hunters, private eyes, wedding chapel owners, rehab operators, show-biz/ show-dogs & sports moms & dads, tattoo parlor operators, and probably more that I am blessedly unaware of.  The idea here is to find quirky, interesting people who have some common goal or vocation (preferably who are related to each other) that reminds us of a real TV show or movie.  The funeral guys remind us of a low-rent Six Feet Under; the P.I.s, Rockford and Magnum; and the bounty hunters hearken back to that show, Renegade, with the long-haired, motorcycle riding son of Fernando “you look maahvalous” Lamas.

Now that you understand the premise, let’s examine the available TV shows from which to plagiarize:

International spies like Alias.  Is your dad the head of an international spy ring?  Do you think your mom is dead, but she’s really alive and working for the Soviets?  Do you have a twin sister you didn’t know about who is also a spy, but for KAOS, or the Dark Side, or whomever the bad guys are?  Do you look like Jennifer Garner?

Government defense agencies like 24.  Is your daughter too stupid to know who to party with?  Does she get kidnapped a lot?  Could she morph into a computer expert when her story line gets dull and eventually disappear?  Has your wife been killed by a double agent posing as your ex-lover?  Can you survive 24 hours on no sleep while getting shot and having the crap beaten out of you?

Schizophrenics like Joan in Joan of Arcadia.  Does you son or daughter talk to God?  Satin?  Strangers? Are you the Chief of Police in a small town?  Does you wife endlessly study Catechism, or Buddhism, or Satanism?  How about those other kooky kids of yours?

Cops who figure out crime scenes, as in CSI.  If you’re a cop who routinely figures out major crimes (like, lets say, weekly) from forensic evidence and then leaves the lab to go out and bust the Perp by him/herself and who hopefully works for a major city (on a coast?) which doesn’t mind our cameras and microphoness on everyone, this could be the opportunity you’ve been looking for.

Sex-starved housewives, AKA Desperate Housewives.  Come-on, you and your neighbors on the cul-de-sac can get together and do this one.  Sure, it might be tricky to get the ol’ back-door boyfriend to sign the release, and the whole slut thing might be a downer at work, but I can refer you to one of those do-it-yourself legal websites and save you a bundle on the divorces later.

Crash land on a deserted island, as in Lost.  Wait a minute; they stole this idea from Survivor!  What a blatant lack of integrity, stealing ideas from other shows.  I’d say this was life imitating art, but its more like art imitating something sort of like art, except its not art, but a gameshow that starves people for money.

Finally, there are a slew of docusoaps on basic cable which feature regular humans reaching for a goal, over multiple episodes, like a real TV series.  What’s missing, of course, are the cohesive plot, believable actors, cool effects and the unbelievable exaggerations and coincidences that we have come to expect from TV, but never occur in real life.  Thats right, they are not real.

In real life, cops don’t solve a crime every week, on their own, in one hour.  Families don’t have a touching and meaningful crisis every week which parents can solve in one hour, and private eyes on stake-outs sit on their buts, in cars, drinking coffee and peeing into the empty cups, for hours, days, and weeks, and when the case is solved they give an envelope full of pictures to the angry wife who hired them, and call it case closed.

We all know that real TV shows are not real.  The irony is that with docusoaps, reality TV isreal.  It remains to be seen if it is also entertaining.  After so many complaints that reality is not real, the truth might be that real is boring–so this is a bandwagon that you might just want to leap onto very quickly. 

So here’s the casting scoop–the real-guy docusoap is especially attractive to basic cable channels that don’t have the budget for scripted series, or for big prizes on reality shows shot in expensive locations.  For example, there’s the newly-out gay guy opening a gay bar in West Hollywood on the new gay channel, LOGO.  This is a good example because if they find one interesting person (the newly-out guy) and surround him with a cast of potentially interesting characters (the people required to get the bar open) in an interesting place (West Hollywood) there is a better chance that the hundreds of hours of footage, edited down into a few TV hours, will be interesting.

Now that you know the formula, you can apply it to your casting attempt–be interesting and surround yourself with interesting people.

This is a wide open genre for the right person or family.  Follow the tips for the relatives of famous people above, and be prepared for the fame and fortune coming your way.  And the lawsuits.  Huh?  I don’t know about you, but if people knew everything I did, I’d be getting sued out the wahzoo.  Lets face it, between customer complaints, the IRS, OSHA, libel and slander laws, those inevitable bar-fights, and bitch-slapping innocent kittens, everyone of you is a walking litigation magnet.  All they need is proof–the proof of your bad behavior on TV for everyone in town to see.  It is what makes you interesting.


Not all reality shows become Survivor or the Bachelor, some just suck.  They were badly conceived, badly executed, badly promoted, whatever.  Sometimes, the public opposes them before they even air, they think the idea is tasteless (although, in my experience that means I’ll like the show—I loved Amish in the City and John Q Public protested it before it aired).  The Real Beverly Hillbillies never got cast yet Congressmen were dissing it.  Some shows are so bad they don’t even make it through their episodes:  The Will, The Casino, Forever Eden, No Boundaries (the giant Ford infomercial), The Mole 2 and Under One Roof (which holds the record for being canceled twice) are among the losers winning that distinction.

Oscar De La Hoya’s failed boxing show, The Next Great Champ, proved that being a big copycat gives you bad Karma.  Fox got their comeuppance from the TV Gods for stealing Mark Burnett & Sly Stallone’s already announced boxing show idea–no one watched and it got pushed to Fox Sports, which is like Siberia for prime-time network programming.  No, wait, if the bad karma thing really worked Fox might be out of business for stealing ideas.  Instead, shows like Wife Swap proves that its never too late to steal a good idea, and if you pull it off well, it’ll be a hit.  That would also explain the two Nanny Shows.  If imitation is the finest form of flattery, Fox is flattering the hell out of ABC and the other networks.

Speaking of Fox, they’ve had plenty of original ideas, some of them big hits.  There were lots of networks that copied Fox’s dating template on Temptation Island.  But, there was one bad of the baddest shows that nobody wanted to copy, can you guess which one?

Yes, The Littlest Bachelor, the dwarf dating show where the full-size pin-up girls came in and dazzled the little guy away from the little chicks, was tasteless exploitation, but that’s not the worst one.

How about the plastic surgery beauty contest, The Swan, where radical surgery transformed average women into plastic Barbies so they could compete in a beauty contest, if they got picked?  That’s right, the message of this show is that even with a boatload of doctors, dentists, trainers, surgery and money thrown at you, most of you are still losers and we’re going to say so on national television.  Of the surgically altered women who did get picked to go on to the beauty pageant, most failed to win, and all were left with the sad truth that no matter how hard you try, its all about your outsides.  Yes, in life there can only be one winner, and its never going to be you.  But, The Swan wasn’t the ultimate worst reality show because you wacky people out there loved it so much that it was a hit.

Maybe the worst idea for a reality show was the dating show where all the men wore hideous masks, Mr. Personality.  The premise was that men who are ugly, bald, short and/or nerdy, but have a great personality don’t have a chance with a pretty girl unless  (drum roll please) the playing field is leveled by the proverbial bag over their heads—in this case a grotesque half-mask.  The little alien-esque masks revealed that none of the bachelors were actually bald, and that they all had good teeth and jaw-lines.  You could also clearly see that none were short or skinny.  Then, at the end of the first episode, they showed photos of every man without their masks, and guess what?  They were all good looking.  What do you know, a show about giving ugly, bald, short, nerdy guys an even shot without any actual ugly, bald, short, nerdy guys in it.  But even that wasn’t the very worst.

I could do this all day.  There are so many bad reality shows to choose from, its just not fair.  So, here is the correct answer:  from the press and public response it appears that the worst reality show ever is: Who’s Your Daddy? The show where an adopted woman looking for her birth parents could win cash and prizes by figuring out which guy shot the sperm that made up half of her double helix.  It aired one episode.

And be grateful for the final nail in the coffin of the guess who’s gay genre of dating shows like Boy Meets Boy, and Playing it Straight, and the canceled at the last minute, Seriously Dude, I’m Gay.  Gay guys pretending to be straight, straight guys pretending to be gay, ho-ho what a barrel of monkeys.  Hey, I’m all for gay dating shows, but the straight/gay farce was just mean—if these shows are about love, then what’s the point of making some poor schmuck fall in love with a straight guy?  Just ask Ellen, that shit hurts.  The final show only aired one episode before someone at the networks pulled their head from their rectum and cried uncle.

How do you know if the show you go on will be a turkey?  Use that heavy round thing on top of your neck for something other than piercings.

Try these criteria:

Don’t apply for a reality show if:

You have to wear a mask.

The prize is totally lame:  On Starlet (The WB) the prize for these potential actress/ spokesmodels was starring in an Internet commercial.  Twelve-year-olds make internet commercials on their home computers.  That is not a prize, that’s just desperation which will decay into embarrassment.

  • You are being told to play mean tricks people you love for their own benefit.  The Million Dollar Hoax and My Big, Fat, Obnoxious Fianc showed us what happens when you torture and trick your own family–they cry and hate you.  Of course, you won’t know if you are the one being tricked (Joe Schmo), so I cant help you there.  And your being suspicious just aggravates us.  On season two of Who Wants to Marry my Dad, one of the women was convinced that the entire show was devised to embarrass her.  She was convinced that she was the butt of an elaborate, Joe Schmo, joke.  In spite of the fact that this was the second season of a successful show, her ego was so out of control that she accused anyone who would listen of setting her up.  Let me just say this: paranoia is not flattering–its annoying and possibly dangerous.  If you suffer from that mental illness, please don’t apply to be a contestant on a reality show.  We want to fool you, we don’t want to hold you down and give you Thorazine. 
  • Finally, don’t sign up for a reality show if Monica Lewinsky is the host.  Did I really need to tell you that?

If we give you a bullet-proof vest, an insurance waiver, or an Ebola vaccine, distract us with a shiny object and run away.

Look, it sparkles!

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