VH1 rethinks reality TV after incident

Mitchell Hartman Aug 28, 2009
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VH1 rethinks reality TV after incident

Mitchell Hartman Aug 28, 2009
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Bill Radke In the TV industry, the talk is about the risks of reality shows. You may have heard about a contestant on a VH1 reality dating program. She was murdered by her ex-husband, who fled to Canada and committed suicide. Marketplace’s Mitchell Hartman reports VH1 is taking the incident seriously and rethinking its approach.


VH1 REALITY SHOW “I LOVE MONEY:” I’m pouring cranberry juice all over Brandi C., she’s like Carrie in that movie, rubbing it in, like it’s blood on her face.

Mitchell Hartman: This is standard fare in reality-TV’s formula of “stick-’em-in-a-room-and-make-’em-fight-for-love-or-money.” But when the real-life plot turned from steamy to seedy, the network pulled the plug on two shows-“Megan Wants a Millionaire” and “I Love Money” — featuring the suspected murderer.

One reason could be advertisers getting skittish about all the drinking and fighting and bleeping on these shows. But, will VH1 tone down the rest of its lineup?

JON TAPLIN: I doubt it.

Jon Taplin studies media at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.

TAPLIN: It’s really cheap programming, and there’s so many people desperate to be on television, for free.

VH1 president Tom Calderone told the L.A. Times he is looking to broaden the brand with more “redemptive” shows. One follows former Dallas Cowboy Terrell Owens reinventing himself as a Buffalo Bill.

Andy Dehnart writes the blog RealityBlurred.com, about the TV genre. He doesn’t expect much to change.

ANDY DEHNART: I doubt you’re going to see VH1 do a 180-degree turn and just abandon this ridiculously successful format.

One thing that will change, though, better vetting of contestants. Annenberg’s Jon Taplin says that’s so another violent criminal doesn’t get on, and possibly win.

I’m Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

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