A Writers Discovery by Reality TV.
The Writers Safety Zone
Reality Producer Calls.
Out of the blue, the email arrives! Who the heck is this person? Must be another annoying spam email dirtying my email inbox. How the heck did this spam know so much about me?
Questions, questions -- I hover over the delete icon. A pause... well maybe it is real, maybe?
I open it just the same, it starts to look legitimate!
Happily Writing Away
Writing late in life is really just for fun and exploration of hidden talents. As a retired Engineer, there wasn't much time for just writing for the fun of it. There has never been much in the way of grand expectations of being discovered or published.
A short while ago, this Hub was planned as being a celebration of sorts about a writer being published, only it became a sour pill disguised as a candy bar. Back a few years ago this writer put a Hub Pages article together about exciting travels while in an RV. These travels included experiences like running low on fuel in the Nevada desert, also losing the brakes on the RV while driving through the mountains of North Carolina. These stories sound interesting, as we readers are always looking for the tense drama that ends well in the long run.
The story about losing the RV brakes had a modest reading from the Hub Pages community, and so it sat on the Hub Pages site for a couple of years.
An email has arrived in my inbox. At first glance it seemed to be a hoax as it sounded too good to be true. The email is from a reality TV producer out of California of all places. Reluctant to open it as one is always careful of spam and other viral entities on the Internet. But curiosity grabs hold so it is opened with gritted teeth.
The email address seems proper and it has the identity of a popular producer from the cable TV reality shows. Can't quite believe my eyes as I read on.
Seems that the producers were scouting around apparently in the writer community for a good story to put on their reality shows. My excitement leaps as I read on, the producers are looking for stories about vacation trips that had gone terribly bad. Well our trip into the mountains without brakes sure qualified for that kind of drama. They were asking us to contact them about using my story on TV.
Well, start jumping around like some little kid with a new Christmas toy..... Ahumm, OK a little composure is needed here. YA..ya...ya!
The Interview Set
The TV Interview
My wife and I contacted the producer, we made plans to tape our own video, talking in person about our harrowing journey with our RV. Making emphasis on the drama as it was written into the original Hub article. I was feeling quite proud that we could relate the drama that we experienced on screen. After all this show was about vacation trips gone terribly wrong. My writing must have conveyed that because they had chosen our story out of many many others.
A formal taped interview was planned by the Producers to take place in the Boston area. I wondered what new experiences were waiting for us. First, some background on my wife and myself. We are senior citizens with perfect respect for each other, happily married for 25 years. Disagreements are very rare, but even in the worst times we care and respect each other. You will see later why that is so important.
We met with the producer and a small team of camera and audio technicians at a meeting room at their Inn. Cameras, lighting, green screen and all. This could be fun I mused. We were asked to relate our story to the interviewer just off of the camera view. The producer said that questions would be asked of us as well.
In the telling of our story, the main thrust of the story was the drama of trying to control a runaway RV along mountain roads. There was a small back story about defective equipment that set the scene for the main story. Little did we know that this back story was headed to the front of the TV interview. While taping, I noticed that some of the questions asked were kind of odd to our personalities. I was asked "When did I start throwing things around in the cab of the truck?". I was perplexed, and replied that I would never do anything like that. Mind you, the camera is rolling all this time. Other questions came up sounding like she was pitting me against my wife, with a tinge of male bashing thrown in for good measure. Finally I was asked to just state "My wife was right after all." Again, I thought that was an odd statement about a tense drama.
Later my wife is asked other strange questions, "Did you start to throw things at Don because you were so overcome with fear?" She was equally puzzled but responded that she wouldn't do that kind of behavior.
Is Reality TV Scripted?
How much of Reality TV is real life drama?
Our Reality Hits
The interview left us a little bit perplexed, we discussed our experience as we drove home that day. We commented on how odd some of the questions seemed to be out of context of the story. I also had a nagging feeling about the producer, as she seemed to have the popular male bashing attitude that you see in the media these days. In years gone past, it used to be bashing against women particularly blond women. Lately it seems like payback is going on all over our society. Men portrayed as lazy stupid people who can't figure out which end of a light bulb to put into the socket. But, hope is eternal and we waited for about nine months for the pilot to be aired on TV.
We eagerly told all our friends to watch our debut on TV, lots of excitement over our new experience and a bit of pride that one of my writings was making a transition into TV drama. It felt good... well for a short while anyhow.
We watched the pilot our excitement turning to disappointment. They didn't air much if any of our discussion about the RV drama. It came out as a "Male bashing" wife with a husband who wouldn't listen to his wife's perfectly good advise. The back story took over the main story and became an "I told you so!" cheap soap opera.
We were both flabbergasted and embarrassed of what our friends must have thought. Fortunately for us, our real friends know us better than that.
So now our pride evaporates, my writing experience is tarnished. Another TV producer makes some money off of us, (we were not paid for this experience)
Wrap It Up
Has Reality TV destroyed good old fashion writing.
Fun While It Lasted
After that sour experience, we vowed to never talk to a TV producer again without proper contracts and other assurances of keeping your writing intact. Certainly other writers take much pride in their writing, and flinch at the thought of someone taking their baby away from you. Don't let the excitement get the best of you, stick to your principles.
If your curious about the way that trip "really" went, just look for the stories on my Hub Page about RV travels.
Enjoy the trip, and write to us sometime.
© 2014 Don Fairchild