Reality shows are wildly successful, despite the seemingly equal disdain that many people have for
them. Because many of them seem quite contrived and even “scripted,” the reality aspect of the genre
has been called into question. Like them or not, reality show stars have recently risen to fame perhaps
more quickly than actors on traditional shows and films. Aside from famous names, Paris and Nicole
rose to fame on reality shows, and so did all those self-titled actors from “The Hills.” However, reality
shows don’t have to mean the end of civilization…or of civilized art. As an actor, you’re part of show
business, and one must be a part of the business to change it.
One of the first “reality” shows in the format of modern reality shows was called “Hollywood Lives.”
It aired on the Disney Channel in the 1990s. Ironically, it was about actors and performers, and it
documented what their lives were like. It starred such actors as Danielle Harris, who appeared in the
recent “Halloween” remakes as well as in some of the “Halloween” films of the original series. While
this show featured already established actors as well as aspiring ones, most new reality shows take
people who aren’t known for any show business work whatsoever.
As reality shows increase in numbers, the number of traditional shows do seem to decrease. There’s
only so much room on network and cable television for shows. Because there are many people longing
for their fifteen minutes of fame, reality show producers can get non-actors for a very low price, and
these sorts of shows aren’t regulated by the Screen Actors Guild or other union.
Many fear that this low-budget show production can ricochet and result in lower rates for everybody.
It’s tempting for a producer to go with a reality show with a very low overhead that promises great
profits upon success and little risk without success. If he goes with a traditional show instead, it will be
a greater budget, which puts more money at risk. That’s bad news for the number of opportunities for
Reality shows can be beneficial for the actor as well, though. If an actor gets on a respectable reality
show-such as “American Idol,” “The Biggest Loser” or “So You Think You Can Dance”–the
positive publicity can be great. Jennifer Hudson did go on to win an Oscar after being a reality show
star. An actor taking a part on a reality show is risking not being taken seriously as an actor by some
people in show business, including some pretty important players in the film industry, but there is a
popular saying, “The only bad publicity is no publicity.”