Posts Tagged ‘Reality TV’

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.

Scripting Reality: “An American Family” comes Full-Circle

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

40 years ago, in 1971 in suburban Santa Barbara, TV history was quietly being made as cinematographers Alan and Susan Raymond, along with producer Craig Gilbert, brought their cameras into the home and lives of the Loud family. The culmination of their work, the 12-part An American Family, aired on PBS  in 1973, and has since been considered the first true “reality” series. Now, the genre comes full circle with a fully scripted version of the story as HBO premieres Cinema Verite, a docudrama about the making of the documentary starring James Gandolfini, Diane Lane, and Tim Robbins.

In this Archive interview clip, Alan and Susan Raymond discuss meeting the Louds for the first time in New York and realizing how groundbreaking depicting an openly-gay Lance Loud on television would be:

The Archive of American Television interviewed the Raymonds (who continued to change the cinematic landscape with other acclaimed documentaries featuring grainy handheld footage and other techniques we take for granted) for four hours in 2010, just as Cinema Verite was in production. “It’s going to be another life experience,” they said. “First you see Steve Bochco take your footage [from The Police Tapes for the opening of Hill Street Blues]. And then you see the guy who makes Cops take your footage. Then you see reality TV like Real World, springboard from your work.  So now there’s going to be a narrative version of you, in which we’re characters in the movie.”

Cinema Verite trailer:

Again, as a sign of the times, apparently Craig Gilbert is not thrilled with his portrayal in the film. Hopefully, there was a crew filming a reality show of the making of the docudrama to help sort things out.

A reality TV footnote: in the Archive’s very recent interview with executive Tom Freston, who headed MTV as The Real World was developed, Freston mentioned that the series came out of an idea for a scripted soap opera featuring young adults. The concept proved too expensive, so the network opted to mount cameras in a house, and let the script write itself. The more things change….