Tag Archives: Reality Television



I am inspired to share with you my thoughts on recently viewing a DVD of “While We’re Young,” a 2014 comedy-drama written, produced, and directed by Noah Baumbach starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, and Amanda Seyfried. See the trailer, if you haven’t already. Okay, it looks like it’s about a middle-aged couple who wonder if life has passed them by. It’s about that but, at it’s also very much about the breakdown in honesty and integrity in a world where such things don’t seem to matter as much as they used to.

There’s a good chance you’ve heard about the ridiculous story of our times, the misadventure of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o who was supposedly “catfished” in a bizarre girlfriend hoax. So, hold up a bit, “catfished,” you say? If you’re not familiar, this is shorthand for being duped into believing you’re in a relationship with someone who does not really exist. The idea is that a person enters into an internet romance without ever actually meeting the person in person. You know, for reals? And then they eventually find out it was all a hoax. Crazy stuff, huh? The truly crazy thing is that, even to this day, this concept is taken for granted as being legitimate– or at least by the producers of the Catfish franchise. You see, it all began with the 2010 movie, so-called, “documentary,” “Catfish,” which went on to become, and currently still is, a show on MTV by the same goofball name. Now, I say all this to make a point: “catfished,” far from genuinely representing a duped lover is the perfect example of how far we’ve fallen from authenticity in the media. As ludicrous as both the movie and show are, as false as the premise is for both the movie and the show, the official word is that it’s all bona fide true! And this sort of hogwash is what our main character Josh (played by Ben Stiller) will not stand for!

You see, Josh is just like you and me. He’s human. He is vulnerable. He is prone to doubting himself. Then along comes what seems to be a younger and smarter version of himself, Jamie (played by Adam Driver). Both men are immersed in the world of documentaries. Well, Josh is for sure, perhaps too immersed as he’s been working on the same rather tiresome film for many years. In fact, it’s taking Josh way too long to speak the truth he so desperately seeks. Or is he lazy and complacent? Out of the fog, emerges Jamie who pops up at one of Josh’s lectures. Josh feels rejuvenated in the presence of the fresh and alive Jamie. Before Josh knows what’s hit him, he and his wife, Cornelia (played by Naomi Watts) are swept up by the youthful charisma of Jamie and his wife, Darby (played by Amanda Seyfried). If only Josh could so effortlessly create and relate to the world in the same way as Jamie, the Young Turk. Ah, but things are not always as they may seem, right?

You could say that, in a way, Josh ends up being “catfished.” I really hate using that term as it brings up that bogus movie and TV show. And I happen to love catfish as a culinary delight. That’s as far as I ever had to go with the word. However, I do dig the new definition I have come up with: catfish: “to denigrate tradition; to ignore honesty and integrity; to forget about ethics.” I think that covers it. So, Josh is not duped into an internet romance. No, but he is duped. I’m not sure that I’m getting out of this film exactly what it has to offer but it’s pretty close. Overall, the idea that it’s not only okay, but expected, that you cut corners, is well expressed here. It could have been better, and more clearly, expressed but, what can you do? We live in times where it’s okay to cut some corners. And, hey, it’s a major Hollywood motion picture. Some corners will get cut! In these cases, you need to imagine the perfect film within the big budget movie. Anyway, I had been meaning to speak on the issue of infotainment and the slippery slope we’ve been heading with faux documentaries. This review was inspired by all the attention to a recent post on Discovery Channel’s TREASURE QUEST: SNAKE ISLAND. That post struck a chord. This response, in the form of a review, will do for now.


Filed under Documentaries, Movie Reviews, movies, MTV

Review: GHOST STALKERS: ‘The Old Taylor Memorial Hospital,’ Sunday, November 2, on Destination America

Chad Lindberg and John E.L. Tenney from GHOST STALKERS

Chad Lindberg and John E.L. Tenney from GHOST STALKERS

I love me some good ghostbustin’ TV action. If I’m going to commit some sit down time, I’m really hoping for a good effort with credible jargon and gadgets and true-believers as guides to build up the suspense. In the latest episode of “Ghost Stalkers,” we get some good stuff with “The Old Taylor Memorial Hospital,” which airs on Sunday, November 2, at 10/9c on Destination America. The title brings it home conjuring up thoughts of Scooby and the gang.

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Filed under Destination America, Discovery Channel, Reality TV, Supernatural, Television

Interview: Ken Pisani and ‘Colonus’

"Colonus," script by Ken Pisani, art by Arturo Lauria

“Colonus,” script by Ken Pisani, art by Arturo Lauria

Ken Pisani has always been balancing a number of interesting things. Right now, there is a focus on “Colonus,” a sci-fi dystopian work that will appear in Dark Horse Comics Presents and subsequently be published as a graphic novel by Dark Horse Comics. As Pisani explains, this is a story of what happens when the bad guys go after the even badder guys!

As you will see when you check out the 8-page opener, “Colonus” is set on Mars and Venus, after the demise of Earth. The elite made it to Mars. Everyone else made it to Venus. Somewhere along the line, Mars got dumped on by its inhabitants to the point where Venus started to look good. And, to the credit of the crew on Venus, they created something remarkable through their blood, sweat, and tears. Are they going to let the new Martians take over their new Venus? Not very likely! Check out the opener here.

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Filed under Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Dark Horse Presents, Interviews, Ken Pisani, science fiction, The Geekie Awards

KING OF THE NERDS on TBS: Curtis Armstrong Interview

Curtis Armstrong and Robert Caradine, "King of the Nerds," on TBS

Curtis Armstrong and Robert Caradine, “King of the Nerds,” on TBS

When Curtis Armstrong and Robert Caradine first pitched the idea of a reality TV show that played off the franchise, “Revenge of the Nerds,” it was met with bewilderment by one network. Could something like that work? Well, you’ve got two of the original actors from the hit franchise, with impeccable credentials, and they’ve come up with a twist on the reality TV model that taps into true nerd culture. TBS liked the idea for “King of the Nerds” and now it looks like we have a hit show. Season Two is underway and this is a perfect time to jump in and try the show out. It airs tonight. You can regularly see it on Thursdays, 10/9 Central on TBS. Check out details on the show here.

Jack, Zachary, and Nicole from "King of the Nerds," on TBS

Jack, Zachary, and Nicole from “King of the Nerds,” on TBS

Curtis Armstrong is a very interesting actor who has been quite fortunate in his career. Lucky for him, as well as for us, he’s been in some of the greatest television shows in history. He’s been a recurring character on “Moonlighting,” “Felicity,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Boston Legal,” “New Girl,” and “Supernatural.” He’s done some hilarious voice-over work on such hit animated shows as “American Dad!” and “Dan Vs.” His work in film includes, “Risky Business,” “Southland Tales,” and “Ray.” And, of course, there’s “Revenge of the Nerds.” In this interview, we chat about a wonderful career, nerd culture, and the reality TV show that gets it right about nerd culture, “King of the Nerds.”

Just click the link below to listen to the podcast interview:

As Curtis Armstrong makes clear, “King of the Nerds” is all about the people on the show. You will be rooting for your favorite contestants on a show that celebrates all things nerd.

Watch “King of the Nerds” on Thursdays, 10/9 Central, on TBS.

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Filed under Geek Culture, Geeks, Nerd Culture, Reality TV, TBS, Television




Meet Stanley Farmer (played by Charlie Floyd). He’s an aspiring filmmaker. Only problem is he has a psychotic way of expressing himself. But, as this dark and witty horror film makes clear, a lot of people are willing to overlook such a thing. Putting one’s life in danger, even pretty much guaranteeing your life is in danger, won’t stop some from seeking a touch of glamour and fame, even if it’s of the most dubious sort. We live in such a disposal and alienated society. Some would call it, hyperreal. Times like these demand a good shock to the system that a good meta horror movie can deliver.


One moment, you could be passively lurking on your laptop and, the next, you could be inside some stranger’s home on the verge of engaging in something. Something? That’s what each person who answers Stanley’s ad is wondering about. What is the “something” that will happen if they choose to spend the night in his basement? Stanley won’t tell. It would ruin the surprise. He explains to each of his potential victims, or…actors, that he is after authentic responses to fear. And like perfect lemmings, each one readily accepts the reality television model.

One participant, a pert and lovely young woman named Sylvia (played by Jessica Green) only asks for some nominal reassurance, “You’re not going to kill me at all?” Stanley lays on what still sounds like a suspicious charm and that is enough for Sylvia to follow him into the basement. What makes such a scene work so well is that it rings so true.

We don’t know what is real anymore, do we? Well, sure, we do but–do we, really? The clever self-aware quality of “Do You Like My Basement?” provides the right amount of satirical bite that pulls you into the humor as well as the horror. Writer/director/producer Roger Sewhcomar set out to create something special, an intelligent horror film, and he truly succeeds. This is a thoughtful thriller with references to the Michael Powell 1960 classic, “Peeping Tom,” but with an utterly contemporary sensibility. Camera work is both slick and jittery when needed. A strong cast will keep you glued to your seat. The contrast between pleasant big city apartment and dank and creepy basement is truly jarring and, even if the characters are easily lured in, it will prove an effective reality check for you, the viewer.

Early on, we witness a tragic murder caught on tape, a little “something” that occurred at some point. By the time we view the first audition to Stanley’s experimental film, we’re so invested in the safety of the poor young man, Chad (played by Devon Talbott) that even the slightest sign of danger leaves us queasy. Adding to the suspense and disturbance, again, is how easily Chad is willing to put up with insults, innuendo, and unveiled threats of danger. The screws keep being turned, people keep entering Stanley’s apartment and not leaving. Stanley even gets a bit sloppy, seeming not to care if he gets caught. But he’s also a resilient chap as you’ll come to see for yourself.


On Wednesday, May 29th, NewFilmmakers presents its Experimental Documentary Series, a Short Film Program, and the new horror feature, DO YOU LIKE MY BASEMENT? View details here.

And be sure to check out the DO YOU LIKE MY BASEMENT? website here.

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Filed under Horror, Movie Reviews, movies, NewFilmmakers


Catherine Annette as Casey in "Lucky Bastard"

Catherine Annette as Casey in “Lucky Bastard”

“Lucky Bastard” is a thriller that delivers on many levels. You can read my review here. This is an intelligent satire that digs deep into the dark recesses residing within all of us. Director and co-writer Robert Nathan was kind enough to take some time and discuss his film as well as share his thoughts on some of the more disturbing aspects of the current zeitgeist.

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Filed under Media, Movie Reviews, movies, pop culture, Porn, Pornography, Reality TV, Satire, Sex



When the history of today’s movies is written, there will be a special chapter dedicated to the influence of reality TV. There already exist some books but we’re just beginning to bite into this meaty subject (Consider CATFISH and REALITY SHOW). It has been around with us long enough to have developed a reality of its own with its own conciets. We accept a nice house loaded with hidden cameras as par for the course. We accept nonactors embarking upon a unscripted train wreck. And, sadly, we accept that human beings can too easily allow themselves to become subhuman. That last one is classic and transcends the here and now. In the case of “Lucky Bastard,” it is aiming to be a classic and it succeeds to a great extent.

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Filed under Media, Movie Reviews, movies, Porn, Pornography, Reality TV, Sex




“Reality Show” will have its world premiere on opening night of SXSW, March 8, 2013. View a trailer here. This film is going to catch you by surprise as the narrative builds. What if you were the star of a reality TV show but you didn’t know it? For producer Mickey Wagner, ratings are everything. He will sink to the lowest depths to get what he wants. Too bad for a mild-mannered family that gets caught in his crosshairs. Because Mickey is going to take it to the limit to make this family, being secretly filmed, act like he wants them to act. They are going to be stars, despite their lukewarm personalities. He will throw chaos into their lives: sex, drugs, whatever, to make them interesting. What results is a truly dark and quirky film. It brings to mind David Lynch and it will inspire filmmakers in pursuit of telling a compelling story because this one sure is.


Adma Rifkin was kind enough to share some thoughts on “Reality Show” and filmmaking in general for this interview. He has been making films since he was a kid and has never looked back. With an impressive resume, Adam is his own best friend when it comes to making movies. He is the catalyst behind “Reality Show,” as writer, director, and, yes, star. If you were to casually see it, you would naturally accept Adam’s performance as that of another smart and capable actor. Then to find out that he wrote and directed the thing, well, you have to respect the guy. Just his role as the producer from hell, Mickey Wagner, is worth applause.

Here is the Comics Grinder podcast interview with Adam Rifkin. Enjoy:

Adam Rifkin Reality Show

Follow Adam Rifkin on Twitter here. Visit our friends at SXSW here.


Filed under Interviews, Movie Reviews, movies, pop culture, Reality TV, SXSW, Television



SXSW is March 8 thru 17. To get your SXSW pop culture fix started up, consider this offering: Adam Rifkin’s “Reality Show.” He has taken his successful Showtime series, about the underbelly of reality TV, and turned it into a feature film. Enjoy.

Press release follows:

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Filed under Entertainment, pop culture, Reality TV, Showtime, SXSW, Television

CBS Gets Snarky Over ABC’s “GLASS HOUSE”

The original “Big Three” Networks, CBS, NBC and ABC, seemed to always remain cool and corporate. You know, professional. Well, maybe that was your dad’s idea of being professional. Today, in the age of social media, a big corporation can throw a tantrum just like anyone else. That is exactly what CBS did today regarding its lawsuit with ABC over the similarities of ABC’s new “Glass House” to CBS’s old “Big Brother. Not being able to yank the show off the air, CBS created a fake ad for an upcoming CBS show, “Dancing on the Stars,” which it advertised to the world on Twitter.

There is definitely a case to be made that ABC’s “Glass House” is an outright rip-off of CBS’s “Big Brother.” But it’s not the first time that one movie or TV show has spawned a nearly identical version from a competitor. The big deal here is that the ABC series is being produced by former “Big Brother” producers in violation of their nondisclosure agreements. That’s the big point. But a judge doesn’t see that as a big enough point to shatter “Glass House” off the air. For now, we get to enjoy some suit at CBS attempting to be funny. The following is a fake ad for an upcoming CBS show that seems to be doing the same thing CBS is accusing ABC of doing. It’s actually alright but a bit uptight and it starts to drag as it gets lost in its premise of dancing in graveyards. It is supposed to appeal to that coveted 18 – 35 year-old demographic which it may or may not. Read it over at CBS or enjoy it below:


Los Angeles, June 21, 2012 – Subsequent to recent developments in the creative and legal community, CBS Television today felt it was appropriate to reveal the upcoming launch of an exciting, ground-breaking and completely original new reality program for the CBS Television Network.

The dazzling new show, DANCING ON THE STARS, will be broadcast live from the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and will feature moderately famous and sort of well-known people you almost recognize competing for big prizes by dancing on the graves of some of Hollywood’s most iconic and well-beloved stars of stage and screen.

The cemetery, the first in Hollywood, was founded in 1899 and now houses the remains of Andrew “Fatty” Arbuckle, producer Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Paul Muni, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, George Harrison of the Beatles and Dee Dee Ramone of the Ramones, among many other great stars of stage, screen and the music business. The company noted that permission to broadcast from the location is pending, and that if efforts in that regard are unsuccessful, approaches will be made to Westwood Village Memorial Park, where equally scintillating luminaries are interred.

“This very creative enterprise will bring a new sense of energy and fun that’s totally unlike anything anywhere else, honest,” said a CBS spokesperson, who also revealed that the Company has been working with a secret team for several months on the creation of the series, which was completely developed by the people at CBS independent of any other programming on the air. “Given the current creative and legal environment in the reality programming business, we’re sure nobody will have any problem with this title or our upcoming half-hour comedy for primetime, POSTMODERN FAMILY.”

“After all,” the spokesperson added, “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”


Filed under Messy Legal Disputes, Reality TV, Television