Do Your Own Damn Job

Reality TV shows don’t have “writers,” per se.  They have what are called “story producers.”

Their job is pretty much twofold.  First, they come up with the wacky situations for the contestants to get into.  They’re the ones who send the rich debutant to a farm, and the ghetto-fabulous girl to Morton’s.

Once all this is shot, the story producer must trim hours and hours of footage into a manageable story.  In some cases, they go so far as to write a “script” from dialogue that’s already been spoken.  It’s basically screenwriting in reverse.

A while back, I was working on a classy show I shall not name.  We were several seasons into the series, and the well of ridiculous situations had run pretty much dry.

So, a story producer came into the office and explained to everyone that the show runner wanted a list of 50 “complications” for our cast.  Things that would impede them from reaching their goal.  If any of us had some brilliant ideas, we should let him know.

And I thought to myself, Not only is this your job, it’s the ENTIRETY of your job.  It’s the only thing you have to do right now.

Argh.  How do people like that get work?

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8 Responses

  1. To John D, I’d have to disagree with you and mention that despite all common sense Hollywood is the only place where you can fail up.

    Actually, those good people that work here that believe the rules of reality will eventually apply usually don’t get anywhere. Those that believe in karma and fairness and honesty are the first to get screwed… everyone has to compromise in some way to succeed.

    Aw. Saying this makes me sad.

  2. Sorry to be snarky 🙂 But someone not doing their job and asking to be bailed out. Sounds like a good thing.

    The only difference is that I think in most industries you stay around long enough for folks to notice you are doing the work and for the person not doing the work to lose their job.

    Maybe the entertainment industry is so transient that doesn’t happen.

  3. They have jobs because they are smart enough to go to the pool of assistants and solicit them for 50 ideas for free. They’ll stay a story producer.

    And of course, assistants who just say, “I’m a production assistant and anyone asking me for anything outside of that I’m not going to help because it’s not my job” well… will probably stay a production assistant!

    So, everyone gets to keep their job.

  4. I’d suggest you don’t work too hard at upsetting this particular applecart. When you’ve leaped all of the walls keeping you from your ultimate writerly goals, and find that you, too, are capable of developing a completely ossified mind by the age of 45, you’ll give thanks for eager young assistants you can steal from.

    Same as it ever was.

  5. I hate reality shows so much. At first, when reality TV came out in the early 2000s, I was excited at first because we’d never had anything like this before. I used to religiously watch every episode of “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance” because it was hilarious and it was a gold-mine to watch REAL people on TV in so-called “real-life” situations.

    But it’s fucking lame now, overdone, tired, and cliched. Now I only like reality shows that are actually interesting, like The Amazing Race, which I enjoy.

    The 2000s has truly been a wasteland era for US pop culture. Remakes, reality crap, and Parisite Hilton. Yuck.

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