Friday, May 21, 2010

Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs

Um, what the hell happened on Real Housewives of New York last night?  I thought last week's episode was bananapants, but Kelly Bensimon has clearly and totally lost her mind.

To recap: Ramona is renewing her wedding vows (because 17 years is a milestone, and it's not a season of Real Housewives without some big ridiculous event at the end of the season), and to celebrate, she is re-living her bachelorette weekend in St. John's with Alex, Bethenny, Kelly, and new girl Sonja.  Last week the ladies were on a yacht, where Kelly oddly blew up at Bethenny about being a cook instead of a chef, then called her a ho-bag, the ladies found a Hooters yacht to hang out on, and everything seemed to be okay.

Until this week.  The ladies departed the yacht and moved the crazy action to a villa.  Bethenny brings a gift bag for each of the women (sure, it's SkinnyGirl branded, but who doesn't love a gift bag?) which brings Kelly to tears of rage.  Kelly also brought down a pad of paper to breakfast and announced everyone should write down their complaints on it.  And then after a weird photo shoot session on the beach, Bethenny makes dinner for all the women and...whoa.



Slow your roll, Kelly.  Whether she was tweaking out from too much coke/not enough coke/having an actual mental breakdown/whatever...what was this nonsense?  She called Alex a vampire, said Bethenny was trying to kill her, started randomly yelling "Al Sharpton!  Al Sharpton!", was shoveling Gummi Bears into her mouth at an alarmingly rapid pace (for someone who claims to not eat high fructose corn syrup), among other things.  

It was funny for a while, but then it got really, really disturbing.  And this is where, for me, the reality TV line of "so bad it's good" and "wait...this is not okay" got crossed.  Kelly, from what was presented on last night's episode, is obviously having some kind of mental break.  Whether it's drugs or brain chemistry or what, something really messed up is going on in her head, and this is a woman with two small children to raise.  According to Bethenny's blog, what we saw on-air was "tame" compared to what really happened, and all the women were scared for Kelly's safety.  Clearly exposing her life on TV is not a healthy thing for Kelly to do.  There's nothing Bravo can do about it now - this season is shot and edited, and she signed the releases and the episodes are going to air.  But I'm curious to see if Kelly will be returning to the franchise if there's a season 4.  She's kind of unhinged, in a way that's not super fun to watch anymore.  I'm sure Andy Cohen has a huge reality TV boner thinking about the ratings and the buzz the last two episodes have generated right about now.

On a lighter note, there was a moment in last night's episode where Ramona was handed another glass of wine and took it without even looking at it, which made me die laughing.  Jezebel has a clip of it here.  You know things are getting rough in RHONYC land when crazy-eyed Ramona is the sane one.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

the people behind the reality

Meet Doron Ofir, the Man Behind 'Jersey Shore'

In case you ever wondered what it takes to find the people whose exploits disgust and entertain me/you/reality TV viewers, here's a sample.  Doron Ofir is a casting producer who's been around since 2000, bringing you the Situation, Snooki, the millionaires of Millionaire Matchmaker, the skanks of A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, among others.  And what Shelly Tatro, VH1's VP of creative programming, says about him sums up reality TV casting: "He puts desperate people together and gets inside their heads.  He's very gifted."

And the man himself doesn't have a lofty point of view about what he does: "We are pioneers of an ugly age.  Our business is like a short bus."

As a former casting producer, I can tell you HE. IS. SO. RIGHT.  I worked for a period of time on a show about extramarital affairs and spent my days finding people who had not only had extramarital affairs, but would talk to a stranger about it on the phone in detail, would sign a 7 page release form saying they would talk about that extramarital affair on camera, would get the other participants in that extramarital affair to agree to either talk about it on camera or sign off on it being talked about on camera, and who were all, in the end, pretty damn excited about talking about that extramarital affair on camera.  They were the lowest common denominator, people who had done something terrible and wanted nothing more then to talk about it.

Whether reality TV is the symptom or the disease isn't something I can figure out.  But the fact of the matter is, we live in a fame obsessed society, and there are some people in this fame obsessed society who want nothing more then to be famous for something, anything.  And the feeling I always got about the people who would actually call me, someone they would never meet, and tell me all about that time they did the worst thing you could do to your significant other, was that this was the most interesting thing that had ever happened to them.  And if it could make them "famous" for a minute, an half-hour, a day, they were all for it.

And it was kind of sad, and I felt a little dirty and weird asking people "tell me all about the first time you and so-and-so hooked up" when I don't even ask my friends that, but at the same time, it paid my bills, and I found it fascinating.  Not just for the stories they'd tell me, but for their willingness to share them with me.  In a way, it's an anthropological experiment, which is how Ofir looks at it: "I know for a fact that any place where there is a culture, there's a show.  We obsess over every subculture or interesting, existing world.  Everything and everyone can be turned into reality television."

Obviously there's a good way to hold a mirror up to subcultures (True Life is a great example) and a bad way (sorry, Jersey Shore), but the guy has a point.  Have you ever known so much about drag queens or fashion designers or huge families or kids who live in Jersey?  And of course no representation is accurate, and editing is editing, and writing happens on these shows, and we're fools to think that there isn't, but at the same time - I've never met anyone like Snooki my entire life.  But on TV, in a way, I get to meet her.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bret Michaels: An Appreciation

The dirtiest of my dirty reality TV secrets?  Hands down, without a doubt, Rock of Love, in all of its incarnations.  I started watching it thinking it would be Flavor of Love-esque: a whole lot of bottom-of-the-barrel girls doing ridiculous things to win a totally unappealing man with a clock around his neck and bad teeth.

But Bret Michaels is no Flava Flav.  Oh no.  Here's the thing: Rock of Love brought what I loved about FoL (crazy skanks, ridiculous challenges), but also revealed the kind of awesome person Bret Michaels appeared to be.  He was unfailingly sweet and polite to the crazy drunk girls in his care (hello, he kissed a girl almost immediately after she vomited up Doritos and tequila!), he played "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" with genuine emotion (of course, if a song was paying my bills two decades after I wrote it, I'd be into it too), and he appeared to have a serious sense of humor about the show.  Also, he's not hard to look at.  While he doesn't look like his Poison 80s self anymore (see: right), he also hasn't aged in a fashion where it's completely ridiculous to think women may still want to have sex with him.

I don't doubt that he was genuinely into some of the girls, but you could tell he found the whole situation totally insane sometimes.  And come on: "HIYO!"  The dude's hilarious.

As I've previously mentioned on this blog, I've had the opportunity to meet some really random "celebrities" in the past few years, mostly reality stars, but Bret Michaels has eluded my grasp.  Not for a lack of trying, though, as I have attended (more then one) concert(s) and managed to meet other members of his entourage.  Like right-hand man Big John (left)!  And bassist Dirty Ray (bottom right)!  And yes, I showered thoroughly after these photo ops.  Briefly I considered making my 2009 Christmas cards out of the photos I have with members of the Bret Michaels Band...but then I realized many of the photos of the nights in question really have no business being transported through the U.S. Postal Service.

But in any case, this post isn't about my questionable behavior at his concerts, this post is about the man, the myth, the legend, Bret Michaels.  Here's the thing: when I heard about his brain going all haywire, I was really legitimately bummed out.  Not because there are more trashy rock shows I need to attend in this lifetime, and not because I still don't have a picture with him, but because he seems like such a good guy.  He loves his fans, he loves the music that made him famous, and he really seems to appreciate everything he's been given.  I was reading an article in People last month (before all of his health problems) about him and his daughters and their Arizona home and I was like, dang, I want to go to Bret's for a barbecue.  And I'm not even kidding when I say I would have shed a tear for the guy if he hadn't pulled through.  Of course, I cry at Humane Society commercials but still.

Part of it is the music, because I grew up with teenage siblings in the 1980s and in a way, I know the hair bands of that era better then I know the boy bands of my high school days.  And Rock of Love really is one of my favorite reality shows ever.  And I've had some of the best times I've ever had at a concert at his concerts, with friends who share a not-so-secret admiration for the man in the bandana.  Who doesn't like to sing along to "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"?  But the biggest part of it is he is fun to watch.  Whether it's on TV or at a concert, he's a good guy having a good time and he wants you to have a good time too.  I mean, he's got a song about it!  I don't want nothin' but a good time either, Bret!

And it is with a somewhat heavy heart that I say, Bret, if this experience has made you marriage-minded and that means the end of Rock of Love, then I'm okay with that.  From this week's People:
"As painful as this experience has been, I was given a second chance, right?  I don't want to sit around every night worrying this is going to happen again.  What I want to do is make a positive bucket list and say, 'I'm just gonna go for it.'  There's just so much more I want to do and experience.  [Getting married], for sure, is something I have never done.  Kristi's such a great person.  We'll see if that happens.  But yes, that may be one of the big things on the list.  My first goal is to get back to 100 percent.  I want to continue to rock the world, and I want to continue to love my family and be a good father."
Cheers, buddy.  Get well soon.  And then come back to Minnesota so I can make an ass out of myself at a concert and get that picture with you I need to complete the collection.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Yay Bret!

Bret Leaves Hospital, Will Recover

This is seriously very exciting.  I have been mulling over a Bret Michaels appreciation post for a while, but it felt a little too much like a premature obituary.  Now that it appears he is going to live and getting a full set of photos with the Bret Michaels Band is still an option for me, I feel much more inspired.  Stick around, I'll try to make that happen this weekend.

I am tragically behind on all things blog because I am tragically behind on all things TV because I am never home to watch anything anymore.  I did watch Real Housewives of New Jersey, and man, am I glad to see those crazy bitches back again.  I missed their lunacy.  More to come on that as well, but in the meantime, check out Danielle's straight up nuts blog.  Holy crap.

Is anyone else really excited to see Alex flipping out on Jill on Real Housewives of NYC tomorrow night?

More to come!  Promise!  Kisses!