Archive for the ‘Genre: Reality TV’ Category

Dancing with Melissa Gilbert

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Tonight Week Three of Dancing with the Stars Season 14 kicks off, with Archive interviewee Melissa Gilbert and professional partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy doing the jive. Tennis star Martina Navratilova was the first of the twelve contestants to go home last week, but the remaining dancers return tonight for “Personal Story Week.” Still in the competition: Gilbert and fellow actors Jack Wagner, Jaleel White, Roshon Fegan, and William Levy; hosts Sherri Shepherd and Maria Menounos; singers Gladys Knight, Gavin DeGraw, and Katherine Jenkins; and football player Donald Driver.

In her 2011 Interview, Gilbert reminisces about the first celebrity competition show on which she appeared, Battle of the Network Stars:

Tune in to ABC tonight at 8pm ET/PT to watch the next episode of Dancing with the Stars, and learn more about “Personal Story Week” here.

Watch Melissa Gilbert’s full Archive interview.

Getting Real with Producer Jonathan Murray

Friday, February 24th, 2012

He’s responsible for those seven strangers, picked to live in a house and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting real. Jonathan Murray, together with production partner Mary-Ellis Bunim, produced MTV’s hit reality show, The Real World, which many consider to be the first modern reality program. In his Archive interview Murray reveals that he was influenced by the 1973 documentary series, An American Family (often noted as THE first reality program) and shares that he studied broadcast journalism and worked in local news before dabbling in producing his own documentaries and reality programs. Some of the other successful programs in the Bunim-Murray family: The Single Life, Starting Over, The Bad Girls Club, and Keeping up with the Kardashians.

The Real World put Bunim-Murray on the map, and Murray describes the story of the show’s creation in his 2011 interview:

Murray will be inducted into the Television Hall of Fame on March 1, 2012. His production partner, Mary-Ellis Bunim, passed away in 2004 and will also be inducted, posthumously.

Watch Jonathan Murray’s full archive interview and check out our show page on The Real World to learn more about the ground-breaking program.

“America’s Most Wanted’s” John Walsh to Receive Governors Award at this year’s Primetime Creative Arts Emmys

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

The Archive offers congratulations to America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh, who will receive the Governors Award at this Saturday’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards. The award honors “an individual, company or organization that has made a substantial impact and demonstrated the extraordinary use of television.” Walsh’s efforts are indeed exceptional: tips from viewers of America’s Most Wanted have led to the capture of over 1150 fugitives. Interviewed by The Archive of American Television in 2008, Walsh shares why he decided to host America’s Most Wanted after the kidnapping and unsolved murder of his young son, Adam:

Watch John Walsh’s full interview here:

About the interview:

In his Archive interview, John Walsh discusses his start in the hotel business and speaks openly about the kidnapping of his son, Adam. Walsh shares how he was approached by producers Linda Otto and Alan Landsburg to be involved with a television movie, Adam, based on Adam’s kidnapping and murder. The overwhelming, positive response to the movie led to a sequel, Adam: His Song Continues, and to Walsh and his wife becoming active in getting legislation passed to aid in the recovery of missing children. Walsh discusses his initial reluctance to hosting America’s Most Wanted, on the fledgling FOX network, but soon saw the huge potential of the show to assist in the capture of fugitives. He also briefly hosted a daytime talk show, The John Walsh Show, and continues to fight for the creation of a national DNA Database. Melody Chen conducted the one-hour interview on October 28, 2008 in North Hollywood, CA.

From Killing Radio Stars to Smooshing Guidos: MTV Turns 30

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

On August 1, 1981 at 12:01 a.m., footage of Apollo 11 blasting off into space filled the TV screen, followed by that of man landing on the moon. Then a flag bearing colorful letters, not stars and stripes, pulsated within a black and white still-image of man on the moon. Instead of the anticipated words of Neil Armstrong, music played and unseen executive John Lack announced, “ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll” – a phrase that would gain its own notoriety as the motto that launched MTV. One small step for Lack (who couldn’t use Armstrong’s famous line due to copyright issues), one giant leap for television.

From its quirky logo, teeming with eels or guillotined heads, to its edgy all-music-all-the-time mission, MTV transformed television. It took something as familiar as the man on the moon footage and repurposed it with new sights and sounds. This embodied the concept behind the channel’s trademark philosophy: provide a playground for the eyes and ears by combining the best of television and radio. MTV vowed to “do for TV what FM did for radio” by giving the world its first, “24 hour, stereo, video music channel.” MTV introduced us to Video Jockeys, (VJs), to the Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star” video, and to a new aesthetic where everything was fast-paced – moving from promo, to video, to VJ, and back, amid a constant array of visual stimuli. Notably, MTV was on cable — at a time when very few people subscribed to such a thing. That was about to change.

Adolescents quickly embraced 1982’s “I Want My MTV” campaign, and bugged their parents to call cable providers to get MTV added to cable packages — sending overall cable subscriptions soaring. MTV’s audience skyrocketed from 1981’s 2.1 million subscribers to today’s 100.6 million, and grew from one channel to a network of 64. Not too shabby for a channel that couldn’t even be viewed in Manhattan until its second year.

MTV’s style and quick pace struck a pop culture chord, and soon after its debut the channel’s influence could easily be detected. Miami Vice, which premiered in 1984, is the direct result of NBC Executive Brandon Tartikoff’s self-proclaimed MTV obsession. Tartikoff spent hours soaking up MTV’s “non-stop visual imagery” and wanted to create a program based upon the concept of “MTV cops.” Though it took some convincing to get Miami Vice made, the show’s hip sensibility, synthesizer-heavy theme music, and Phil Collins-laden soundtrack appropriated the MTV style to great effect.

By the mid 1980s MTV was a full-blown phenomenon. No more scrambling to stretch a meager collection of 250 music videos, MTV was now turning away videos. The channel gradually introduced original programming, including 1987’s game show Remote Control, featuring a young Adam Sandler, and 1988’s MTV News, anchored by former Rolling Stone editor Kurt Loder. Then, in 1992, MTV created a little show called The Real World.

The Real World famously told the “true story of seven strangers, picked to live in a house and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting real.” The program is widely considered to be the pioneer of reality television as we know it. Archive Interviewee and former MTV Executive Tom Freston shares the story behind The Real World, which was intended to be MTV’s first SCRIPTED soap opera for the younger set. Watch below to learn how it instead became MTV’s first unscripted, runaway hit:

What began out of necessity quickly became one of MTV’s most popular series, currently in production on its 26th season, The Real World: San Diego. MTV and others, on both cable and broadcast networks, soon began churning out numerous reality shows, a trend now dominant in today’s television programming. Over the years MTV graced us with everything from Dan Cortese bungee jumping on MTV Sports, to Real World alum Eric Nies hosting a dance party on The Grind, to a smart-aleck teen ‘toon trying to survive high school on Daria. It gave us MTV Spring Break, Headbanger’s Ball, Club MTV with host Downtown Julie Brown (Wubba Wubba Wubba), and introduced the world to the joy that is Snooki via Jersey Shore. There may be no guiltier pleasure in life than witnessing Snooki “smoosh” Guidos.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for MTV, though. Fan favorites Beavis and Butt-Head and Jackass were taken to task for being too vulgar and inspiring violence in children, The Skins was chastised for being borderline pornographic, and much of the channel’s current programming is under attack, criticized as vapid, “trash TV.” The cast members of Jersey Shore are reportedly being paid $100,000 per episode for the upcoming 4th season. Money well spent?

It may not always be the place for highbrow programming, but MTV has largely accomplished what it set out to do. With its first slogan, MTV declared, “you’ll never look at music the same way again.” And we haven’t. MTV, Music Television, taught us to look at music, not just hear it. We learned about different bands and their members and watched in awe as Michael Jackson danced his way through “Thriller.” Though the focus of MTV shifted away from videos (you can still watch them from 3-9 a.m.), the channel continued to expose us to novel material, and at times, even moved us to action. We got sucked into reality programming, for better or for worse, and voted in Presidential elections, inspired by the “Choose or Lose” and “Rock the Vote” campaigns. We may watch The Hills, but we also care about what’s happening on The Hill.

MTV has a direct line to the heart of pop culture, and its influence on the success of featured artists over the years is no small feat. It has a huge online presence, and still (thankfully) showcases those amazing acoustic performances on MTV Unplugged. The creators of MTV also gave us VH1, Nickelodeon, TVLand and Comedy Central, among dozens of other channels, many of which feature music videos prominently. Not a bad list of projects and progeny to amass by 30.

So welcome to your 4th decade, MTV. May you continue to be innovators in the way we experience music and entertainment, and hey, since you brought Beavis and Butt-Head back after 14 years, we can only hope that Dan Cortese and Eric Nies are the next stars you thrust back into orbit.

- by Adrienne Faillace

Watch Archive Interviewees Tom Freston, Quincy Jones, and Sumner M. Redstone discuss MTV and more here: (LINKS)

Viacom CEO Sumner M. Redston’e complete interview is here.
MTV Networks CEO Tom Freston’s complete interview is here.

MTV turns 30 video:

Mark Burnett Has Spoken!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

The creator/producer of Survivor, The Apprentice, The Voice and many other hit series was recently interviewed for the Archive of American Television. In his newly released interview, he discusses the production of the competition-based reality series he’s best-known for, and the “reality tv” genre in general. Watch Mark Burnett’s full interview here.

In this video clip, he discusses his philosophy behind Survivor and the tribal council:

About the Interview:
In his Archive interview, Mark Burnett details his upbringing in England and his time in the British Army before discussing his move to Los Angeles, CA. He describes several of the jobs he held before venturing into television production and recounts his love of the outdoors and adventure sports — passions that led to his involvement with the physically demanding Eco-Challenge race and its corresponding television show. Such experience proved invaluable for his next hit competition-based reality series — and perhaps the show most closely identified with him — Survivor.Burnett goes on to discuss the production of Survivor, as well as that of several of his other successes, including The Apprenticeand Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?He also touches on a few of his more short-lived series, like The Contenderand The Restaurant, and comments on what the term “reality television” means to him. Mark Burnett was interviewed in two parts: in Santa Monica, CA on September 1, 2010 and in Malibu, CA on September 29, 2010. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the combined two-and-a-half hour interview.