"A friend of mine was on The Bachelor. This was years ago and she ended up being one of the last four girls. She said they were constantly given drinks, were put on a strict sleep schedule where they were literally put to bed and woken up. Also, there were no clocks anywhere, so all the girls were in the constant state of tipsy disorientation.
There were no 'chance' encounters where the guy is sitting on the couch and the girl goes up to talk to him, all of that is staged. Even their conversations were reshot over and over if the reactions weren't right or their wording was off. The entire thing was completely controlled and she said no one really knew they guy because none of their interactions were real."
"I was on set for a filming of Ghost Hunters in Buffalo. On the show, they are 'investigating' an upper level of the Buffalo Central Terminal when they hear a 'disembodied' voice say 'Get out!'
It was the property manager on a lower level yelling at some homeless people to clear out and everyone knew it was him, but it somehow made it in the show as an 'unexplained' event."
"While at a bar in NYC, someone approached my dad and his buddy asking if they wanted to be on a gourmet cooking show. Naturally, they agreed and asked if I (14 years old at the time) could join. The promoter said of course, gave them the location, and told them to tell me not to eat a big lunch as this would be a large multi-course meal at an upscale restaurant.
I skipped lunch that day after a rough lunchtime soccer match and left school early to meet my father and his friend. We arrived in a strange part of Manhattan - near the Hudson, in a rather dead part of the city. We got a call from the producer saying 'Sorry man! Wrong location! We're sending a car to pick you up immediately.'
We hopped into a taxi and BOOM, 'You're on cash cab!' the bald headed host declared as lights flashed above our heads.
So: we lost, got kicked out in Chelsea, and ended up spending our own money on food and a taxi home - very upsetting."
"My dad sued my mom and they both ended up on Judge Joe Brown (because Judge Judy said no).
My dad is a scumbag. He dodged child support payments for close to 8 years and didn't contact me or my sister during that time (from when I was 5 to 13). When I was 13, he popped back up out of the blue and wanted to visit, but he lived in the Ozarks and we lived in New England. So he flies out for a couple days and we visit, don't really hit it off, and he goes back home.
A few months later we get a letter from some producers in LA saying my dad called the number for Judge Judy and filed a lawsuit against my mom, demanding she reimburse him for the money he spent to visit us. It says Judge Judy turned it down, but that they had a new show yet to air called Judge Joe Brown they wanted my parents to appear on. If she said no, there was no legal jeopardy for her, the show is for 'entertainment.' It also said my mom could file a countersuit against my dad. So, being SUPER-PEEVED, she did, for everything from school tuition, to books, to dentist bills, to my sister's speech therapy, food, school supplies, clothes, freaking everything for 8 years, came out to like $150,000.
So, the filming date is scheduled, and it happens to fall on my first day of high school. My mom decides that's too important a day to miss, so I'm cut from the trip. They fly out, get put up free in a nice hotel, free meals, spend a while in hair and makeup, then start filming. Within 3 minutes the judge boots my sister from the room - says that a little girl doesn't need to see her parents fight in public (good man). The judge listens to both my dad and my mom. My dad's reason for suing was that my mom lived too far away. Judge Joe asks who decided to move to the Ozarks and calls my dad a moron. He listens to my mom list off all the crap my dad skated on. Then Judge Joe says if he could, he'd give her every dime she asked for, but the limit is $5000, and she's getting it all. Judge Joe tells my dad he should be ashamed. My mom calls my dad a deadbeat on national television, crossing that off her bucket list.
Both she and my sister got a bonus $300 appearance fee and cards from a bunch of people who book extras/background for soap operas and stuff. Then they spent the next day at Universal Studios, the same day as the MTV Movie Awards, so they got to watch all the limos arrive and some of the red carpet for that.
Then on the flight back they ran into some soap opera actors from General Hospital, which is my mom's favorite; good trip for her."
"When my wife and I were looking to buy a home in Michigan, our agent told us we had the opportunity to be on House Hunters if we wanted to. We talked to some person from the show and they told us the basic process: we'd buy whatever home we wanted, then they would film us there before we moved in, as though we were just looking at the place as well as looking at two other 'prospective' places that they had selected. Then we'd ultimately 'choose' the house we'd already bought and live happily ever after.
We watched a few episodes (or I did, my wife already liked the show) and I convinced my wife of how stupid they would likely make us look, so we passed."
"I was on a reality ambulance TV show when I was an EMT. The patients were real and their medical conditions were real. Everything else about the show was fake. In the morning when the camera crew got there, they filmed us driving lights and sirens around the parking lot. Then we did personal interviews where they let us talk about moving bariatric patients and how we felt about our jobs. Then they made us say a bunch of stuff that we normally would never say like 'Without us, these patients would die' etc.
They used these clips of the stuff they made us say and spliced it into the real stuff we said. Our actual ambulance transport seen in the TV show was 100% planned and scripted. The patient wanted to go to the ER and have some decubitus ulcers looked at; however, this patient being diabetic had a high blood sugar of 400 having just eaten and taken insulin. We were forced to treat it like a life or death situation and then they used our earlier footage of saying things were life and death and our driving around the parking lot lights and sirens to make it seem like we were fighting for her life. In reality, in about 30 minutes her sugar was going to go back down to normal and life would be good - The whole experience actually really turned me off to reality TV and made me realize how fake everything is."
"I worked on a couple of low key reality shows a while ago and this is what I learned:
1) Each show has a team of 'Story Producers' who stand behind the cameramen with walkies telling them to get specific shots. As the reality is happening, the story producers are there to make sure they're getting the shots they need to make whatever story for the episode. It's really hard to make something that didn't happen, but it's not too hard to change an emotion, or a mood, within what happened. Like when a woman doesn't like seeing the guy kiss the other woman - just use some out of context shots and boom.
2) Mostly everything that people say on a show is what they said, but sentences can be taken out of context. Sometimes if the editor is good they can 'frankenbite,' which means they can take specific words to make a new sentence. This is rare because it's pretty hard to do, and you have to find a place to put it, so it's usually off camera and subtitled.
And producers will often talk crap in private interviews to get reactions. 'Did you hear that so and so said this about you?' Booze also helps fuel drama. And they cast people who are going to be dramatic anyway.
3) Producers will also select people to be on the show. Like Pawn Stars, the producers select which customers get to be on the show. With Hardcore Pawn, it's the same thing, but more for a dramatic event rather than someone who has something interesting.
4) If it's a game show or any show where you win money, the federal government sends a rep to make sure the game is fair. There are laws against rigged game shows."
"I was on an episode of Wife Swap. One of the wives was a burlesque dancer, so her new husband had to MC a variety show of which she was the headliner. I was the juggler in that act. Full disclosure, I'm pretty sure all tape with me on it is on the cutting room floor.
Anywho, it's pretty fake. The people are real, and lots of their interactions are real, but a TON of scenarios are staged. 'Ok, now we're going to plan the show, but make sure Wally (new husband) takes over.' He'd never done anything showbiz before, so naturally, we tried to help him. But the director kept telling us that he was in charge and he needed to be doing the planning. I caught a moment of a personal interview as well. Honest answers, but very much being steered by the camera crew and director.
During the show, the crew said they needed to get 'sound levels' so they had people sit quietly, clap politely, clap, clap loudly, etc. I'm fairly certain that was so they could have clips showing a range of responses. In the end, the whole show bit got about 4 seconds of time on screen. Waste of 2 days with no pay."
"The show is called Restaurant Takeover in Canada.
The premise of the show is like Kitchen Nightmares only worse. Failing restaurant, not enough business, family run, blah decor, food is mediocre etc. A celebrity chef along with an interior designer/contractor comes in and they check the place out, including food. They proceed to fix the place in terms of the menu and the interior/exterior aesthetic, owners are happy, the end.
I work as a cook and have for eight years and a chef of mine calls me up seeing if I needed some extra cash, which I did. Without even asking about it I agreed to it and then he explained - instant regrets.
The episode I worked on had a celebrity chef picked already and I was just the one to prepare everything that was to be shown and filmed. I was never actually on film, I was never even credited. I was even paid late, they said it would be two weeks check in the mail and it ended up being three. The celebrity chef didn't do anything to help me, he spent most of his time, honestly, having makeup redone and flirting with the ladies on set, the owner of the restaurant included.
Anyway, all the food on the episode was prepared by me and even then, only to the point where it 'looked' correct. No need to taste anything. I didn't even have salt and pepper. The worst part is half the crap I prepped wasn't even used. It was annoying because you would think it was easy since they didn't give a crap about the actual flavor of the food, only the looks. Heck no, they were giving me ridiculous time constraints because they were rushing filming and were doing things so haphazardly.
It just makes everything on these kinds of shows seem fake. I should have never done it. Being a passionate cook and then doing this filming BS just drains the soul ever so slightly."
"When I was in university about 7 years ago we got an email inviting us to take part in 60 Minute Makeover (UK). It's a show where a person's family calls in a team of experts to totally re-furnish their house while they're away from home for the day. The audience at home is led to believe that all of the work is done within 60 minutes, and they make a point to start their countdown on camera and rush everyone in to meet their deadline.
About 10 of us joined the makeover team at around 8 am on the day and were given flat-pack furniture to make outside the house before they started the makeover. The crew had a waste container outside where they threw all of this poor unsuspecting guy's furniture, only to be replaced with this cheap stuff that was only available to him via sponsorship of the program.
They also masked off all of the baseboards and light switches to be ready for painting before we were let loose inside.
We were let into the house as a member of the ITV crew declared the start of our 60 minutes. After 30 minutes of frantic, patchy wall painting, carrying lamps, uncomfortable seating and hardboard coffee tables into the house we were told to vacate.
We then had lunch in the street while the experts went in to clean up our mess and then did it all again for another strict 30 minutes.
After we were finished and the official 60 minutes were over, there was another period of professionals tidying and filling in our shoddy decorating before we all gathered outside and waited for the man to come home from work. He would find that all of his furniture had been smashed into a skip outside his house and replaced with stuff that may look good on camera for a couple of seconds during a quick sequence, but would be very disappointing to live with, but this man would have to act happy about his makeover."
"I interviewed for What Not to Wear. It started when I was at a punk show on the West Coast. I'd just moved to the West Coast and didn't get the memo that everyone would be wearing a plaid shirt and jeans (on the East Coast, you dress punk for a punk show), so I was in full on regalia. So this woman approaches me and says she likes my outfit and that she works for a fashion show that she'd like me to be on, and asks for my contact information so she can follow up afterward.
Later on, I get an email from her and find out it was What Not to Wear. Obviously, this made me feel like complete crap since I felt like my outfit looked pretty nice. I battled a lot internally about whether or not I should enter. They told me I would get a prize of my choosing worth $20,000 plus an entire new wardrobe of fashion designer clothing, but the trade off is that it would be really degrading and probably ruin my self-esteem, plus they would destroy all of my 'alternative' clothing. They said I would have to get all of my friends and family on board so they could have an intervention to tell me how bad all my clothes are.
Eventually, I decided money is money and went into the audition (I also decided I was going to hide all my favorite clothes so they couldn't destroy them). A filmographer was asking me some questions when the director walked in and dragged him out of the room. She came back in a minute later and told me she thought my outfit looked great, that she had no idea how I had ended up there but that I was welcome to recommend any other poorly dressed friends to the show.
I guess in the end it was a confidence boost, but a $20,000 prize would have been pretty sweet."
"Not me, but my best friend was on 16 and Pregnant. Now I don't know if this is always the case, but none of the drama on her episode was fabricated. However, at one point, they did ask her to reenact a conversation that she had had with her mother off camera. The funny part is, they had her reenact it about a week after giving birth so she was no longer pregnant. To hide that, she wore a big sweatshirt and held a teddy bear in front of her tummy so you couldn't tell the difference."
"In Holland, there was a Dutch version of Pimp My Ride. A player of a football team we played against had his car 'pimped' and the car didn't even make it home, he had to call the car repair service on his way back from the studio."
"I worked on Love It Or List It. The reactions at the time of the reveal of the house were meant to be real and they actually sign a contract saying they won't go in the house before renovations are complete.
99% of the work isn't done by the people shown doing the work on TV, it's actually done by subcontractors. The entire staff works until 1 or 2 am the night before filming to get the house ready.
Most of the stuff they put in for design purposes are taken back after the shoot because it wasn't part of the homeowners' budget. We got blacklisted from several stores because we would buy thousands of dollars of stuff and take it back after we shot."
"I was on an Australian reality show called Surprise Chef. The premise of the show was that the celebrity chef would meet someone at the supermarket and then cook dinner for them. On my episode, I volunteered at an Aquarium. The story in this episode was the chef met my boss at the supermarket, then cooked all the aquarium volunteers a nice surprise dinner.
Of course, this was all pre-arranged, there was no meeting by chance. We all knew what was happening so for the scene we all got surprised in the shark tank, we knew what was happening and did seven takes of fake surprise.
The celebrity chef cooked nothing. He went in for a few takes and an actual chef cooked all the food while the celebrity chef stood outside chain-smoking. The food was average quality, chicken parmesan, and profiteroles.
I think I drew the short straw of things you get in a reality show: a crappy meal, others get cars or renovation makeovers."
"My brother was on The X Factor UK. There are several rounds before the televised rounds, so all those rubbish acts you see on TV have been picked by producers to go through.
I've also been in the audience of The Voice and X Factor and they make you do loads of fake cheering, dancing and clapping before the show starts so they can cut it into the actual show. 90% of the cheering you see/hear on the televised shows have been added in post production.
"TV producer here. 90% fake.
If you have a good show runner they will soft script the whole thing and execute efficiently.
If you have a crappy show runner that thinks they're the best thing since sliced bread they will try to shoot everything 'real' and waste weeks upon weeks of shooting, forcing a number of pickups and reducing the profit of the series.
When guests come in to be on the show, they are basically told how the interaction will go, then ACTION and you get as many takes as you need to get the scene locked.
Occasionally something goes wrong that ends up playing well on camera or someone has an improv moment that works, but it's rare.
Then you shoot real/fake interviews with everyone to move the story along and most of it is guided with about 80% being 'just say this-'"
"I tried out for Canadian Idol. Reading the contract they made us sign, it literally stated that the producers could override the fan votes if needed to make sure the person they wanted to win, would win. So yeah.
I still tried out. I was not the next Canadian Idol."
"My family was on World's Strictest Parents. We hosted two rebellious teenagers in our allegedly really strict home. No clue why they picked us because we aren't psychos like most of the families I've seen on the show.
Anyway, the producers were bummed because the kids actually liked us and we got along with them, so the producers had to go up to the kids and convince them to get angry for no reason and cause drama. It was kind of pathetic.
We're still close with the two teenagers and talk to them often!"
"I was on Jerry Springer. The episode never aired but the entire thing was fake. They even asked me to find friends to complete the storyline of a double love triangle. The coolest part of it all was when they literally asked me if I wanted a fake doctor's note or a fake death certificate made out in a fake family member's name in order to get me out of work. They literally had a guy on staff whose only job was to get people out of work so they could attend filming."
"I was on Miami Ink. The only parts that were staged were the entrances and exits to the shop. I had to do them a few times because the crowds surrounding the shop. I had to wear the same clothes twice to look like I did the tattoo in two sessions, but the reality it was three eight-hour sessions. Otherwise, it was a really cool experience. Everyone in the shop was the same as in TV. Maybe a little forced drama for TV's sake, but a great experience. The work was great and behind the scenes staff was great."
"My dad was on Comic Book Men (basically Pawn Stars for comics, set in New Jersey).
He didn't want to sell the item, just wanted to show it off. He did two takes (no script) of off the cuff dialogue with cast live on camera. They did ask him to come up with a 'reason' to sell the item, which was based on truth.
I was on set with him as background. It was pretty cool to be there, but I had to stay in the same place for an hour and a half reading the same crappy DC comic. They aren't allowed to show any Marvel stuff unless it's an item someone brings into the store. The crew spends about 15 mins 'hiding' all the Marvel items in the store before shooting a segment. Overall, loved the experience."
"I was on This Morning when I was about 7 and they did a big makeover for me and my siblings. The premise they created was that we were a nightmare and my poor mom just wanted us to look smart for an upcoming christening.
The main part I remember was them telling us to jump in the mud and shout 'no' when our mom asked us to stop. Normally we wouldn't have dared, so I remember that being fun! Oh and my sister ruined her hair three times before going on stage so they made us hold her hands so she couldn't touch it."
"I have several friends that were on the first season of Moonshiners (Discovery Channel). It is totally fake. I mean, they do make moonshine, but what you see on the show is not what it's like in real life. Most of them are licensed to sell and do sell it locally at the package stores, the others only make a little to have for themselves and a few friends (more to keep up a family tradition than anything else). But the producers had them set up stills in the woods and even told them what to wear to make it look more 'back woods, redneck, good ol'boys' than anybody in this area has looked in 50 years. We sat there with the guys that were being filmed, watching the episodes and laughing at all the people that probably think this stuff is real while drinking the store-bought stuff. The hard stuff is only for rare occasions aka Saturday nights, it'll rot your gut if you drink it all the time."
"I was on a TV show in the UK called Bargain Hunt. I went on it for a bit of a dare and never expected to get past the online application form, but after a phone interview and a tryout day, my workmate and I got on. It was shot over two days, day one we had 1 hour to choose the 3 antiques to sell and day two was the auction day (where we sell chosen items).
The only 'fake bit' about it was that we had an hour to choose our 3 items, but we actually spread this over 5 hours as we had to film, get sound right, get lighting right etc, and as the TV crew are sorting out lighting and stuff my friend and I would keep on looking around the antique house for other objects to buy."
"My mate was on Tattoo Fixers, where basically they get people in with tattoos they regret and make a design they don't tell them about, tattoo it on to cover the old one up and 'surprise' them at the end. He filmed the 'big surprise reveal' like 5 times because he wasn't surprised enough."
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