How Real Is Reality Programming?

SPIKE TV'S 'The Joe Schmo Show' Puts New Twist on Reality Show Genre,

Where Only One Contestant Is Real

Television's Biggest and Riskiest Experiment Premieres Tuesday, September 2

Aug 12, 2003, 01:00 ET from Spike TV

    NEW YORK, Aug. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- It's the ultimate reality show ... yet
 it isn't real at all. Reality series are popular among men and Spike TV, the
 First Network for Men and Stone Stanley Entertainment have taken the concept
 to the next level with "The Joe Schmo Show," where only one contestant is
 real. This next wave in reality programming premieres with a two-hour event on
 Tuesday, September 2 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) and then can be seen in its
 regular time slot on Tuesdays (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT).
     "The Joe Schmo Show" combines elements from many reality shows found on TV
 ... except ours has one huge Secret -- only one contestant is real. Everyone
 else on the show, from the host to the other 'players', are actors following a
 predetermined outline. This series is one of television's biggest and riskiest
 experiments -- how would a naive reality contestant react to encountering a
 show filled with every outlandish element reality television has showcased?
 How far can producers push this 'reality,' and the ensuing ridiculous
 competitions? Will the actors be convincing enough? Will our unsuspecting
 "contestant" figure it all out? And if he does figure it out, how will he
     Our show's hero is Matt Kennedy Gould. Think middle. Middle class. Middle
 America and middle of the road. Matt is your loveable handsome 'guy-next-
 door.' He's a nice guy and lots of fun to be around. He's our unsuspecting
 "contestant" and our wildcard element that this entire show revolves around.
 Matt Kennedy Gould is "Joe Schmo."
     A resident of Pittsburgh, PA, Matt recently dropped out of law school and
 is now working as a pizza delivery guy until he decides what he wants to do
 with his life. Matt was playing basketball when a casting director approached
 him to compete in a new reality TV series. Matt is the only non-actor of the
 entire house.
     Gould was told he was a contestant on "Lap of Luxury," a reality show in
 which he would live the life of the super-rich, pampered beyond his wildest
 dreams in a gorgeous, sprawling mansion while vying with eight other
 contestants for a grand prize of one hundred thousand dollars. As on many
 reality programs, the show features reward challenges. On "Lap of Luxury,"
 these challenges are called "Pampering Competitions," games in which
 contestants "compete" for high-priced luxury items including flat screen
 televisions, vacations or simply the use of the mansion's master suite. The
 show also includes "Lord of the Manor Immunity Showdowns," in which
 contestants compete for immunity to avoid being "evicted" from the house. Both
 the "Pampering Competitions" and the "Immunity Showdowns" are parodies of
 similar elements in 'eviction style' reality shows and are completely rigged
 by the writers and producers.
     At the end of each typical episode, the "Lap of Luxury" pseudo-reality
 show holds a "Riches to Rags Eviction Ceremony," a "ritual" where castmates
 vote to evict one of their own.  The evicted contestants 'Lap of Luxury
 Collectors Plate' is tossed into the fireplace, and the host deadpans: "Ashes
 to ashes, dust to dust, (fill in name), you are dead to us!" This over-
 dramatic ritual pokes fun at the melodrama of every major reality show, using
 extreme close-ups, histrionic music, and ridiculous, gut-wrenching moments of
     Here's a glimpse of the colorful cast of characters in "The Joe Schmo
 Show" along with career highlights from the talented actors who breathed life
 into them:
      * The Asshole -- "The Hutch"
        "The Hutch" passes himself off as a cop, but he wasn't able to pass the
        Houston PD psych test -- so now he's a security cop at a mall. An
        authority-dispensing bully who has the ability to burrow under
        everyone's skin, Hutch's horrific hygiene and social habits make him
        the guy everyone loves to hate.
        "The Hutch" is portrayed by David Hornsby. Hornsby has an extensive
        list of film, television and theater credits. Recent films he's been
        featured in are Minority Report, Pearl Harbor and Born Loser. This
        fall, David will star in the UPN sitcom "The Mullet Brothers" and has
        had recurring roles on the HBO hit series "Six Feet Under," CBS'
        "Presidio Med" and The WB's "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment."
      * The Grizzled Veteran -- Earl
        Earl is a former Special-Ops veteran and he's seen it all, including a
        few things he'd probably rather forget. He's the strong, silent and
        sinewy type, and as one might expect, an intimidating presence. Like
        many of his generation, Earl doesn't adjust well to modern changes,
        possessing disdain for any "alternative" lifestyles.
        Earl is portrayed by Franklin Dennis Jones. Jones is an experienced
        USMC sergeant and drill instructor and is a Vietnam veteran. Jones has
        been seen in numerous acting roles, including in the feature films
        Reindeer Games, 5 Seconds and Contact and the television movies TNT's
        "George Wallace" and HBO's "Path To War."
      * The Gay Guy -- Kip
        Kip is the loveable doormat with a huge heart. Kip wears his emotions
        on his sleeve ... his collar ... and his boa scarf. He laughs, he cries
        and he keeps right on crying. He's the guy who wants a group hug.
        The character Kip is portrayed by Lance Krall. Krall is a founding
        member of popular improvisational comedy group, The Whole World
        Theatre. He was a cast member on the NBC sitcom "The Downer Channel"
        and co-host of "The Cindy Margolis Show." Krall also starred in the
        indy film Made Up with Tony Shaloub, in his directorial debut.
      * The Rich Bitch -- Ashleigh
        A little too beautiful and a little too smart, Ashleigh is just a
        little too eager to grind your heart with the heel of her expensive,
        high-heeled shoes. Having a good day? Don't worry, Ashleigh will fix
        that in no time flat.
        The character Ashleigh is portrayed by Melissa Yvonne Lewis. Melissa's
        experience includes roles in feature film, television and theater. She
        has been seen in theaters as Miss Buffalo in Drop Dead Gorgeous and as
        the recurring character Alicia on television's "Beverly Hills 90210."
      * The Quack -- Dr. Pat
        Though divorced three times with no children, Dr. Pat is a family and
        marriage counselor. Her theory on listening: "That's why God gave us
        two ears and one mouth." Unfortunately, Dr. Pat's actions make her seem
        as though she has no ears and five mouths.
        The character Dr. Pat is portrayed by Kristen Wiig. Wiig is a comedy
        improv veteran and is a member of The Groundlings Sunday Company and
        Empty Stage, both located in Los Angeles.
      * The Virgin -- Molly
        Pure as the fresh snow and straight out of Sunday school, Molly is the
        stereotypical "goody two-shoes" complete with teddy bear T-shirts and
        old fashioned sayings like "Oh, my stars!"
        The character Molly is portrayed by Angela Dobson. This was only
        Dobson's second television audition ever. A former model from Texas,
        her prior experience has included work in the theater.
      * The Schemer -- Gina
        Gina is the sexy spitfire who wants to win the game at all costs. She
        thinks she's a "reality show expert," but her frantic alliance-building
        tactic may backfire.
        Gina is portrayed by Nikki Davis. Davis' acting resume includes film
        roles in Friday After Next and The Program, along with numerous
        television appearances.
      * The Buddy -- Brian
        He's the guy that befriends Matt by becoming his buddy and sounding
        board. Brian's sharp and quick with a joke. He's the naturally funny
        Brian is portrayed by Brian Keith Etheridge. In addition to castmember,
        Brian is also a segment producer for this series. He was instrumental
        for making last minute, on-the-fly storyline changes that were
        necessary to keep this show going. Brian was a writer, performer and
        producer for Fox Sports Network's comedy/variety show "The Best Damn
        Sports Show Period." In addition, Brian recently completed Level 4 of
        the Groundlings Improv Program.
      * The Host -- Ralph Garman
        A complete on-camera professional who isn't quite as smooth off-air.
        He's a bit of a prima donna -- prickly and difficult. Our host lost out
        to his nemesis Ryan Seacrest for the "American Idol" job and can't
        quite get over the fact that he's slumming by doing this cable gig.
        Series host Ralph Garman is portrayed by himself. Garman has an
        extensive career in both television and radio, and is currently the
        comedic part of Los Angeles' top radio station's morning show, KROQ.
        He's also provided various voices for the Fox animated comedy "Family
        Guy," had several appearances on NYPD Blue, and even had a recurring
        role on the soap opera, "Days of Our Lives."
     As if the outrageous characters surrounding Matt aren't enough, series
 producers conspired to subject him to nearly every over-the-top reality
 competition the networks have dared ... along with a few too risky to have
 been tried before. Designed to test Matt's moral fortitude, patience and
 sanity, we're willing to bet Matt never played these games at home:
      * Hands on a High-Priced Hooker -- This game is a parody of the "last man
        standing" endurance competitions on other reality shows. Remember
        reality contestants squeezing into an SUV on 'Big Brother' or perched
        on posts in a river on 'Survivor'? The person who kept in contact with
        the hooker the longest was granted immunity.
      * A Meal Not Quite Fit for a King -- This game parodies shows like 'Fear
        Factor' that force contestants to eat all sorts of disgusting things.
        The castmates were all brought plates of 'delicacies' such as goat eyes
        and monkey testicles. Fortunately for our actors, the delicacies were
        in fact innocuous look-alikes, not the real thing.
      * Money, Money, Money, Honey -- This game parodies the sexually
        suggestive shenanigans forced on contestants by overzealous, ratings-
        crazed producers. Players were paired up, handcuffed and dipped in
        honey -- then told to roll around in a pile of money, collect it on
        their bodies and deposit it into a barrel.
      * Battle of the Sexes -- This game spoofs the typical "trivia about your
        housemates" contest, not to mention any reality game that pits the men
        against the women. Cast members were asked to fill out sexual
        questionnaires about themselves. The actors' answers were provided for
        them, but Matt's responses were the real deal. The winners received a
        day at a spa, whereas the losers were forced to dress in clothing of
        the opposite gender and act out ridiculous punishments such as
        submitting to a spanking or performing a foot massage.
     In addition to its weekly Tuesday premiere, "The Joe Schmo Show" encores
 on Sundays (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) starting September 7. This weekly one-hour
 innovative new series is produced exclusively for the First Network for Men by
 one of television's leading independent production companies, Stone Stanley
 Entertainment ("The Mole," "Fame," "The Man Show"). "The Joe Schmo Show" was
 created by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, who also serve as writers and
 executive producers with David G. Stanley, Scott A. Stone and Anthony Ross.
 Peilin Chou is the Executive in Charge of Production, Spike TV.
     Spike TV, the first network for men, is available in 86 million homes and
 is a division of MTV Networks. MTV Networks owns and operates the cable and
 television programming services MTV: Music Television, MTV2, Nickelodeon/Nick
 at Nite, TV Land, VH1 and CMT: Country Music Television, as well as The
 Digital Suite from MTV Networks, a package of thirteen digital services, all
 of which are trademarks of MTV Networks. MTV Networks also operates and offers
 joint ventures, licensing agreements and syndication deals whereby its
 programming can be seen worldwide.
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