Whether reality is all it’s cracked up to be is not in dispute for
networks that offer reality shows to viewers who want to see them.
But the advent of programs like NBC’s “Fear Factor” or ABC’s “I’m
a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!” have not meant that new staffing
opportunities have opened up, since the same skills used in creating
scripted shows are needed for unscripted programs.
“You have to have basic storytelling skills,” WB Network spokesman
Keith Marder said. “Keith Cox, who runs the Alternative Department
[which includes reality shows], comes from scripted background.”
Marilyn Wilson is co-executive producer for ABC’s “All American
Girl,” premiering at 9 p.m. Wednesday on KABC-TV Channel 7. The show
offers a behind-the-scenes view of a beauty pageant in which the
women are “charming and pretty, but not like beautiful models,”
“I think people can more easily see themselves up there,” Wilson
Because reality TV is a hot commodity, many producers from
television and film are moving toward reality programming, said
independent casting director and producer Katy Wallin of
Burbank-based MysticArt Pictures. Wallin is casting for the new Fox
show “Mr. Personality,” which has a woman date men whose appearances
are not revealed to her.
The cost of producing reality shows is less expensive, in part
because there are no actors or writers hired, Marder said. But
scripted shows can have an afterlife with reruns, whereas the shelf
life of a reality show is brief because, typically, each episode can
air only once, Marder said.
The WB’s research department tracked February percentages of
scripted shows including dramas and comedies, versus unscripted shows
including reality, news, sports and game shows. The network featured
25% unscripted programming, FOX 55%, ABC 69%, CBS 39% and NBC 31%,
“We still rely primarily on scripted programming [because] it’s
what our audience expects,” Marder said. “With the scripted shows,
viewers have long-term emotional attachment.”