Reality TV Book Update: Five Months and Counting


Regular readers of this blog will know that I don’t usually take advantage of it to blatantly promote myself or my shows… but here’s a quick plug for a project near and dear to my heart.

As you might know, my book, REALITY TV, will be released in August by MWP, the folks behind game-changing screenwriting and filmmaking books SAVE THE CAT, THE WRITERS JOURNEY, FILM DIRECTING: SHOT BY SHOT, THE SOUND EFFECTS BIBLE and countless others. As a sometime guest lecturer who has spoken with groups from Northwestern, Full Sail University, The University of South Carolina as well as on panels for the Writers Guild of America West and other professional groups, I was motivated to write the book after years of being constantly baffled by the dearth of quality texts on writing and producing reality television and the level of what folks don’t know about how the processes and politics of getting shows to air. It often seems like everyone I meet has an idea for a reality show, but few have a clue as to how to build a career in the genre.

Reality is often discussed in film schools and university media programs from a critical and cultural perspective, but seldom framed as one of the largest employers of talent in entertainment today. Your chances of finding a rewarding career in reality television are exponentially better than becoming the next Tarantino, but who’s telling that to students? Very few people — because television, especially reality, is seen as a lot less “sexy” than filmmaking. You know what else isn’t too sexy? Being unemployed with a huge student loan to pay back.

I’ve spent more than a decade learning how to tell effective and engaging stories, but when my work is done best, it’s almost completely invisible. There’s a method to it, and one that can be taught. As the book’s publication date draws nearer and publicity ramps up, you’ll get periodic updates from me here on book signings, media appearances and so on. I’d be grateful if you’d pass the word along. As a working producer, I don’t need the book to make me rich — but if it gets the next generation started on the right path to telling decent stories, I’ll feel pretty good about that.

Word of mouth will be critical… so who can you talk to about the book?

Media Professors and Students

The book is written conversationally, but packs exercises in each chapter that can easily be adapted for classroom use and to foster discussion.

Reality TV Fans

Savvy viewers interested in media literacy and elevating the story quality of the shows they watch by voting with their eyeballs. It’s not all junk out there, and learning to watch critically is important to the future of the genre.

Working Professionals in Other Genres

Would it surprise you to know that there are lots of folks with backgrounds in writing traditionally scripted entertainment curious about jumping the fence to reality? As one friends has already told me, the book is an excellent primer on understanding the differences between reality and other genres.

Thanks again for your help on getting the word out. In closing, please feel free to comment on this blog more often — contribute to debate and discussion of topics here. I’m happy to answer your questions!

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One thought on “Reality TV Book Update: Five Months and Counting

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  1. What about a reality show about a reality show, if not series of reality shows? Ever so often, a long-running reality show will turn the cameras around and show their viewers what goes on behind the scenes. Dirty Jobs, No Reservations, American Chopper, and other reality shows have done this. I know there are production companies that produce more than one reality show. From brainstorming to distilling the idea down to pitching to the pilot to air time and beyond. I think it would be a really interesting show.

    Then again, has it already been attempted?

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