Donald Trump, president and reality TV producer?

News that Donald Trump would retain a producing credit on The Celebrity Apprentice—and retains his stake in the show—broke late this week, just as NBC was promoting the new season, which starts in early January.

  • The Washington Post interviewed me about what the “executive producer” title means in reality TV. (Answer: there are many, many different possibilities.)
  • APM’s Marketplace Morning Report interviewed me Friday morning about whether or not this will help the show, and/or represents a conflict of interest for Trump.
  • I wrote about this on reality blurred, suggesting that both the conflict of interest—and the new person NBC cast—are two strikes against the show, which should not air.

What’s wrong with reality TV?

The genre known as reality TV is suffering from a lack of breakout hits. Why? It comes down to one word: fear.

I explored that in a long feature story, which appeared on the cover of The Los Angeles Times’ Sunday Calendar section:

And there are some outtakes that didn’t make it into the piece in a follow-up piece I wrote for reality blurred:

Lifetime’s UnReal may have been a one-season wonder

One of my favorite scripted shows last year was Lifetime’s UnReal, which used the setting of a Bachelor-like show to satirize reality television and tell soapy stories starring two strong female protagonists.

When it returned for a second season, the show had lots its way, and the first season seemed like a distant memory. I wrote about that, and my review was cited in a Variety Q&A with UnReal’s creators.

Read the story, and let me know what you think, of my take and season two:


The journalist-public relations dance

Covering the entertainment industry offers the possibility of working with publicists, who can help provide information and access. I value the relationships I’ve established and the reporting I’ve done with their assistance, but it’s a quirky system I’m still learning to navigate.

On May 19, I’ll be talking to a group from the Florida Public Relations Association about the role of those professionals in my work. The talk is titled “A Freelancer’s Reality: PR Lessons from Covering Television,” and it’s open to the public, though tickets are required.

Details about the event are at the FPRA Volusia/Flagler chapter’s web site.

Stay informed about the best reality TV shows

Last fall, I launched a new newsletter to help people keep up with the latest news in reality television—and, more importantly, the best shows. There are so, so many shows now that it’s impossible to watch them all, so I highlight the best (or sometimes, the weirdest, or funniest, or most dramatic).

Join me, will you? Subscribe here, free.

(No spam, I promise, and you can unsubscribe any time, of course—but I hope you will be with me for a long time!)

Interviews with people involved in reality television

In January, I spent time in Los Angeles at the Television Critics Association press tour, and while I was there, I interviewed many people about the reality TV shows they host, produce, created, star in, and/or write about.

Here are five of those interviews—plus one, with Bachelor spoiler Steve Carbone, that I conducted before leaving for L.A. Enjoy!

  1. Matt Iseman explains Team Ninja Warrior’s speed, his enthusiasm’s origin
  2. How Discovery’s Killing Fields is being produced in real time
  3. Why The Profit Marcus Lemonis needed to spin-off The Partner
  4. Two Oscar winners and an Emmy winner on Oscar doc sexism
  5. Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss on diversity, UnREAL, Ben Higgins
  6. How and why Reality Steve spoils The Bachelor