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Larry King Live
What's Driving the Popularity of `Reality TV'?Aired June 27, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, what's happening to TV? People are eating rats for money, and millions of us are watching.
From the smash hit "Survivor," Ramona Gray. She got voted off the island in episode four. Also from "Survivor," host Jeff Probst, and its executive producer, Mark Burnett. He's an ex-military man and he knows about life-and-death situations. From the ninth season of "The Real World," 20-year-old Julie, a Mormon from Milwaukee. And the co-creator executive producer of "The Real World," Mary-Ellis Bunim. Plus, later the executive producer of the upcoming show "Big Brother," Paul Romer. That's real TV, and it's next on LARRY KING LIVE.
What's going on? We'll start with Mary Ellis Bunim, the co- creator and executive producer of "The Real World," where all of this may have started. Do you take credit for this?
MARY-ELLIS BUNIM, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "THE REAL WORLD": Well, my partner, John Murray, and I created this in '92. But you know, what preceded all of this was "An American Family" on PBS years ago, 25 years ago...
KING: Where they did a very serious study of an American family.
BUNIM: They followed what they thought was a typical American family. We took that premise and totally changed it.
KING: And you also preceded the movie "Truman," right?
BUNIM: Oh, by many years.
KING: "The Truman Show," way ahead.
BUNIM: "The Real World" has been on air since 1992.
KING: And has it done well?
BUNIM: It's done beautifully, and it's increased its rating every year.
KING: What took so long, do you think, to have imitators?
BUNIM: I think it's a risky format. You know, we -- cable was first to take that risk. MTV in the beginning looked at this as a less expensive alternative to drama. So... KING: And you do a lot more editing and setup of your people, though, right, didn't you? I mean, picking your people the way you picked your people?
BUNIM: It takes about 15 or 16 weeks to find the right cast. We put together a diverse group of young people from 18 to 24.
KING: And Mark Burnett, I guess you get a lot of credit for "Survivor." How did that come about?
MARK BURNETT, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "SURVIVOR": "Survivor" is an original idea by a British friend of mine, Charlie Parsons. I got involved about four years ago and developed it since then, and brought to it CBS, and was very fortunate enough to get the order for the first 13 episodes.
KING: Did you watch "The Real World"?
BURNETT: I still watch "The Real World."
KING: OK. Did it have an effect on you?
BURNETT: It's different. I love "The Real World," but this is very, very different, because versus people being in a house and it's totally about their relationships, "Survivor" has the element of Robinson Crusoe, "Lord of the Flies." So it's about an unscripted drama much as "Real World" is, but it's very different.
KING: Putting two people on -- two groups on one island, calling them by different names of tribes, right, picking the island, and having them literally fend for themselves?
BURNETT: Exactly. It's very "Lord of the Flies." It's very "Piggy."
KING: Yes. Was it a tough sell to CBS
BURNETT: No, it wasn't. An executive called Dan Maynard heard the pitch and the same day went to Mr. Moonves, Leslie Moonves, and to Leslie's credit, took the risk. It really seemed strange to be on CBS, but clearly, the vision worked.
KING: And Jeff Probst, who's the host of "Survivor," how did you come aboard?
JEFF PROBST, HOST, "SURVIVOR": I am the luckiest guy on planet right now. I got a call about the show.
KING: You and Regis.
PROBST: Yes. Well, I heard actually Mark on the radio talking about "Survivor," and I thought, "Why does a show like that need a host?" Because I couldn't imagine how you would incorporate a host. Next thing I knew, I had a meeting with Mark, where he spent the first hour and half of a two-hour meeting convincing me I did not want to do this show. KING: Because?
PROBST: Because you'll have rats running all over you, leaches up to your armpits. You'll hate it. And I spent next half hour pleading to have a shot.
PROBST: It was the most fascinating idea I'd ever heard, of all the reasons he just said -- the survivor elements, but mainly, surviving each other, being the voyeur dropped right in the middle, and to be a part of watching these 16 people, with no rules basically, figure out how to live together.
KING: We're going to talk to two people in a moment who participated -- one still participates -- another who was cast off, no pun intended.
Why -- this is for the three people not involved with taking this on. Why, Mary Ellis, do we watch this?
BUNIM: We watch this because it holds up a mirror to ourselves.
KING: Yes, but ourselves aren't on an island somewhere struggling, or we're not in a house with 12 other strangers.
BUNIM: But you still have the fantasy that you could get on that show, that real people have the opportunity to join a cast like that. And in the case of "The Real World," we have 35,000 applicants every year for "The Real World" and "Road Rules."
KING: Mark, "Road Rules" is another one.
BUNIM: "Road Rules" is a spinoff of "Real World." It's been on for nine seasons as well.
KING: Why do we watch it, Mark?
BURNETT: I think we like storytelling. It's very simple storytelling. It just happens to be not actors.
It's a contrived situation, Larry. They wouldn't really find themselves on this island; we put them there.
KING: You have set this up?
BURNETT: Yes, it's not reality; it's "dramality," a mixture of drama and reality. But it's storytelling at its highest level, its purest form. And I think we're watching what unfolds in the workplace every week all over America. People want to get ahead and will do whatever it takes.
KING: They'll eat rat to be vice president of sales.
BURNETT: They probably would.
KING: You might have a point. Mark, why -- Jeff, why do you think we watch?
PROBST: All the reasons they've said. It really -- I think there's a fascination with watching ourselves, and it -- it is -- it comes up in the show. And weeks later, when I think the audience is going to be in judgment of these people, and they turn the mirror back on the audience, and say, you know what, it's no different in corporate America right now. And it is so clearly said that you sit there and go, wow, you know, you're right, it is a microcosm.
KING: There is voyeurism, right, involved as well
KING: And I know Ramona is shaking her head. Let's go first to Julie.
What took you to "The Real World," Julie?
JULIE, CAST MEMBER, "THE REAL WORLD": Oh my gosh, so many things, just the opportunity really to go and experience, just go live with these people that I didn't know, and find out a little bit more about myself. I think that there is a lot of reality in at least "The Real World," what I participated in. People can relate to this. This is real life.
KING: Are you still a part of it?
JULIE: Yes. I'll always be a part of "The Real World" family, kind of like brothers and sisters spotted across the country.
KING: Ramona, why did you sign on?
RAMONA GRAY, VOTED OFF "SURVIVOR": It's weird listening to her give the reasons why she wanted to be a part, because I wanted just the experience. I mean, the million dollars was a small perk, but I'm just this adrenaline junkie. And you know, I got on the Web site, and I was like: "Wow, I could survive on an island, you know. I could really do that." And I just wanted to see if I could do it.
KING: And what did you have to go through to get on?
GRAY: Oh, man. After the application process -- and you have to send in a three-minute video -- there were rounds and rounds of interviews. CBS got over 6,100 applicants, and they only gave 800 initial interviews. So, that narrowed the pool down immediately. So there were interviews from that first 800, then it was narrowed down to 48. More interviews, probably about five to 10 more interviews, psychological tests, physical exams, blood work.
KING: Why did you do all this?
GRAY: I'm crazy. I don't know.
KING: Could be, huh, Ramona? The possibility exists, Ramona.
GRAY: It's possible. I just -- I don't know. It just sounded like the adventure of a lifetime.
KING: What did you make -- you were tossed off. We'll talk about that, of course. But what did you make for your efforts?
GRAY: Fifty-five hundred dollars.
KING: Do think that was fair?
GRAY: I think that was very fair. For 12 days, yes.
KING: What about all the previews of the 12 days?
GRAY: Well, I think it was fair.
KING: Does everyone get, like, $600 a day, Mark, is that it?
BURNETT: No, it doesn't work out that way. The first person, Sonja, who left the island got 2,500. Second-place person gets $100,000. And the winner gets $1 million. It goes up in a bell curve.
KING: I see. So everybody does get something.
BURNETT: Yes, everybody gets something for their time and for their energy.
KING: And problems also can develop, as we know has happened with Julie. We'll talk about that and other things as we continue a look at reality television.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SURVIVOR")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're playing with the rats. We're going to chop the head off, take the guts out, take the skin off, cut the feet off, and pull the skin off that way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Throw a few minnows in there. Surf and turf, minnows and rats.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. I'm telling you, guys, we're not going to want to go home. We're set. Bring them home, baby. Bring them home.
GRAY: As poor as we get in the ghetto, we don't ever eat the rats -- ever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you guys are missing something.
(LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think? Having a problem there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got to kill some more rats tonight. It's all on to the break of dawn like hot-buttered popcorn! We's about to grub!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SURVIVOR")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't known if it's an angel ray or a stingray.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a pretty good moment for me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got fish! No way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, baby.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, hell yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My position with the tribe -- it's probably going to increase as a result of this. My talk about the things that I'm capable of doing, and this might give them that, oh, maybe some of what he's saying is true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: By the way, there's a new program coming called "Big Brother." We'll meet its executive producer later in the program. Let's go to Julie now in Milwaukee before we talk to Ramona a little. Julie in the cast of MTV's "The Real World."
Let's see a scene with Julie on "The Real World" and then let's talk to her about maybe some difficulties -- watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE REAL WORLD")
JULIE: I'm going to step onto this streetcar, and it's going to take me to a place that I don't even know, and it's going to take me to people that I don't even know.
I go to a school called Brigham Young University. It is a 99.5 percent Mormon University. Coed living is not cool with BYU, and they don't know I'm going on "The Real World." I honestly do not know how are they going to react.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: How did they react at Brigham Young, Julie?
JULIE: Oh, well, they're still reacting, and I'm reminded of that every day. We are kind of...
KING: What? Did they throw you out of school?
JULIE: Not as of yet. We're still kind of working through the process with the honor code office and all the...
KING: Are you Mormon?
JULIE: I am Mormon.
KING: And you signed a code that you would not what? Live with people of the opposite sex while attending school?
JULIE: Exactly, or while deferred from the university.
KING: And did they deem "The Real World" as breaking that code?
JULIE: Well, technically, I was living in the same house with boys, the same mansion as boys.
KING: So it didn't mean just you had to have sex with the boy, just living with the boy breaks the code?
JULIE: Well, it's kind of, you know, the letter of the law or the spirit of the law, yes: The reason the rule is in place is to keep us from being immoral.
KING: Do you feel you've broken the code?
JULIE: I feel that while I was in New Orleans I was true to myself, and that is what's important to me.
KING: Mary Ellis, does that bother you that she may lose a school career?
BUNIM: Well, I think it's unfortunate, and I think that they should recognize that Julie is an open-minded, growing individual. She has very solid values that weren't compromised by this, and I understand she's had offers from other universities to join their campuses.
KING: Do you want to stay at Brigham Young, Julie?
BUNIM: I want to go where I'm welcome, you know. I love BYU, and I just want to go where I'm welcome.
KING: Well, if they, say, come back in September, will you come back?
JULIE: We'll see. It all depends on this process and how it all turns out.
KING: Is this one of the things that can develop off reality shows, Mark, that you people should think about beforehand? Employers watching, schools watching them?
PROBST: Well, I know on "Survivor"...
KING: The world watching -- yes?
PROBST: Well, I know on "Survivor," people gave up their jobs, people left families. We're talking no communication for a little over 6 1/2 weeks, so it's definitely something you're taking on. Ramona couldn't talk to anybody, and now she can't talk about what she went through either. So it extends.
GRAY: Because of confidentiality and keeping the secret of what happens.
KING: You know who's the eventual "Survivor," right?
KING: And you can't tell. By the way, how do you know if you were thrown off the island?
GRAY: Well, I didn't leave the area. I traveled...
KING: You stayed in Malaysia?
GRAY: I stayed -- I actually went to Thailand, I went to Bali and climbed the highest peak Southeast Asia.
KING: So you got to know who "Survivor" was. And the secret don't come out until when, Mark?
PROBST: The secret comes out in episode 13, toward the end of August, which has now been extended to be a two-hour special between 8:00 and 10:00, from the normal one hour.
KING: You're milking it good, right?
PROBST: Well, actually, CBS was kind enough to give us an extra hour, because there's too much footage. We just can not squeeze in that last experience with three tribal councils into one hour, Larry, so they were kind enough to give us the extra hour.
KING: We'll have more with this fascinating panel about an equally fascinating subject right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SURVIVOR")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, the rules of the game are simple: The first person who refuses to eat a bug loses immunity for their tribe. Lose immunity, your tribe must vote one of its members off the island. Tonight's tribal council.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes! He swallowed it! He swallowed it!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SURVIVOR")
PROBST: Last vote -- Ramona.
Grab your torch, Ramona. The tribe has spoken. Time for you to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: OK. How did you not crack up? I hosted this, I'm down in the water laughing, they've got to carry me off the set.
PROBST: You know, it's funny, there was an adrenaline when I had the names. I -- there was a giddiness, but honestly, when you look across and you see Ramona, you hold up a piece of paper and you see her looking at this parchment, there is a sense of reality of fifth grade all over again. I'm not lying. Somebody just said, get off.
KING: Before we ask Ramona, how does the elimination work, Mark? How do you -- they vote every week?
BURNETT: Every week, which is actually in reality of time. Every three nights, they must form a tribal council. At the council, each person has one vote. They write on a piece of paper, it goes in ballot box, and Jeff reads them out. It's tribe against tribe. So the tribe that loses the immunity challenge must go to tribal council. From week seven of television, the whole ball game changes, because the remaining 10 people form one tribe. Now the immunity is on an individual basis. If you were in that contest, you wear a necklace, and you're immune from voting off, but you still sit there in the votes against others.
KING: Does the last show have only two people on it?
BURNETT: The last show begins with four people. There are three votes during the final two hours.
KING: Because you can't have two -- they'd vote for each other.
BURNETT: Correct. The way the final person is chosen, seven people who were most recently kicked off the island come back and form the final tribal council. Payback is sweet, Larry.
KING: You said you like "Real World." Do you like "Survivor"?
BUNIM: Yes, I've enjoyed "Survivor." On "Road Rules," we put people on an island two or three times, and they ate bugs and they did a lot of the same things, so...
KING: Don't you feel bad like doing that? You don't feel, you know, as a producer that this is a little weird?
BUNIM: No, I think that it's very challenging, too, for the cast, and I think the cast is enjoyed it, haven't they, Ramona?
GRAY: Oh, yes.
KING: OK, what was it like to be tossed?
GRAY: Initially, it was humiliating.
KING: You didn't look humiliated.
GRAY: I know. Well, I wasn't ready to go yet. I mean...
KING: You wanted to stay.
GRAY: I wanted to stay, heck yes. You know, I was just making my comeback. I was ready to kick some butt, but you know...
KING: Did you think you were weak at the beginning?
GRAY: I was weak at the beginning. I was very, very sick dehydrated, so it kind of made it easy for the rest of the tribe to vote me off.
KING: I'm not asking you to give away a confidence, but now that you know the winner, would you have voted for the winner?
GRAY: I can't tell you that.
KING: You can't even tell me if you -- whether you agree or disagree with the council?
GRAY: No. No.
KING: What is this?
KING: You guys are strict.
BUNIM: They should hire us to run Los Alamos. We'd do a better job than...
KING: That's right, you're not kidding. Do you have a secrecy thing, too, Julie?
JULIE: Do I have a secrecy thing?
JULIE: I'm not giving away ending, Larry, come on.
KING: So you have the same thing, right? JULIE: Well.
KING: This is -- is Julie still in competition? Help me Mary- Ellis.
BUNIM: Well, there is no competition on "The Real World." They experience living together for,20 weeks.
KING: And each of them gets same amount of money.
KING: That's it. It just a living-together situation.
BUNIM: It's living together and challenging each other.
KING: Thinking about it further now, why not have winners based on success of a winning showing?
BUNIM: Because our story is based on storytelling and character, and exploring differences between people. It isn't about competing.
KING: So in continuing, do you remain friends with a lot of these people, Julie?
JULIE: Yes, I'm still friends with pretty much everyone I've lived with. We -- you know, it is a more real situation, I think, because we are not competing, we're just living enjoying each others' company, and sometimes not enjoying each others' company.
KING: By the way, we are not he revealing your last name, but they didn't tell me why.
JULIE: Just protect myself. They -- MTV and BMP does a really good job of protecting us and keeping us from getting totally swarmed, you know.
KING: Everybody is only known first name, is that it, on the show?
BUNIM: Yes, we do that because, you know, in Julie's case, people have ended up on her doorstep, and...
KING: Another problem could develop from show like this.
PROBST: It could.
KING: Anonymity is gone.
PROBST: Anonymity gone, but a lot of people who are on the shows want their anonymity gone as well. That is one of the appeals, is maybe I'll start a TV career.
KING: As we go to break, more of the life and times of Ramona Gray -- watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "RAMONA")
JENNA, "SURVIVOR" CONTESTANT: I don't think Ramona is pulling her weight. I think she really thought she could handle this, and now she's finding that I don't think she can as much as she thought.
GRAY: Yesterday was bad. It was a bad night.
GREG, "SURVIVOR" CONTESTANT: The only thing Ramona can be is herself.
GRAY: I'm a momma's girl. Well, I'm momma's only child, so.
GREG: She has great gifts to offer. Maybe she'll be able to; maybe she won't.
GRAY: I can't do anymore than I can do. I'm not going to try bust my ass try to prove something.
GERVASE, "SURVIVOR" CONTESTANT: Every chance she got, she was just making it worse.
GRAY: I was spending extra energy. I'll give this one to her.
GERVASE: I tried to pull her to the side and point certain things out to her and tried to get her to correct that situation.
GRAY: Everybody in clicks, and I'm, like, here.
GERVASE: It's all about everybody being nice. You don't want to go out there and kiss everybody's ass, you know it were mean? Don't start with toning yourself down, you know, like, going solo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Funnier off camera.
By the way, "Survivor 2" will be in Australian Outback, right?
BURNETT: Yes, in the Australian Outback. A little bit of Crocodile Dundee.
KING: When do you shoot?
BURNETT: We start shooting in mid-October and finish the last week of November, and I think it's going to be -- we chose new location so we wouldn't cheat the viewers by just replicating another island.
KING: What surprised he most about hosting this, Jeff?
PROBST: How quickly it got duplicitous, deceitful, diabolical, and it just came out really in last episode where the beginning of an alliance was forming.
KING: Because they want the money, is that it? No?
PROBST: I think the money disappeared, especially in the middle of it. I think it became about, like Ramona said, I'm not ready to go. I have pride. When it comes down to it, when you get voted off, it's people saying we don't want you around anymore.
KING: You have to be a little bit of a psychologist.
PROBST: Yes, I think a little bit. My wife is a psychotherapist, so it certainly helped, but...
KING: Did she help with this?
PROBST: Yes, in preparing for it, just kind of looking at Ramona's -- you know, they fill out a lot of information, and the main thing that Mark and I talked about how to remain neutral objective but not distant and aloof, and it's a fine balance. You want somebody to think I like Ramona a little bit more than somebody else.
KING: And secrets of your show, where there is no greed involved, is?
BUNIM: Is that is people are exploring diversity in life, and you know, we all surround ourselves with people just like ourselves, and what we've done on this show is provided them with people that they normally wouldn't be friends with, much less live with.
KING: The mix as to has to work, right?
BUNIM: Yes, so we put a diverse group of kids together to learn from each other.
KING: But people don't like each other sometimes.
BUNIM: And out of -- yes, out of that diversity comes conflict and some very deep friendships.
KING: When you ate a rat, were you thinking "I want a million dollars?"
GRAY: No, I was just thinking that I was hungry and I wanted to eat.
GRAY: Period. I was just hungry.
KING: Is Jeff right? Does money fade?
GRAY: Well, money was never the number one thing for me anyway. I just -- I wanted the experience, the adventure, and then was like, oh yes, there is a million dollars at the end of this.
KING: You mean that was out there.
GRAY: I mean, yes, it would help my life a little bit, I mean, but it wasn't like I want the million dollars, that's it.
KING: Julie, would you advise a friend to do what you did?
JULIE: Yes, absolutely it was trip. I loved it.
KING: What about people you didn't like, in a confined area that you had to live with?
JULIE: I think this is a good experience for anybody. You learn a lot. You grow a lot, and ultimately, it's a good time, so...
KING: We'll take a break and come back with more, and then we'll meet the producer of a brand new show that CBS is going to invest five nights a week in.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SURVIVOR")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Greg's a character man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on a second -- yeah?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Greg talks into a coconut and thinks it's a phone.
GREG: This guy wants to do an interviewed for four or five minutes. The nature phone is really a way that I kind of keep in touch with the greater spirit out there.
All right, listen, well, yes, just hold my calls, if anything is...
You get reception everywhere. You're always incommunicado with everything and anyone, and you know, it's light, it's quick, it's easy and it's relatively inexpensive.
Do you have a fitting for bamboo? OK, yeah, yeah, as quickly as possible.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Greg knows what he's doing. He kind of manipulates the group, and I think a lot of people don't even realize it's going on. I think most of the people don't even realize it's going on. But in his own way, Greg is the leader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SURVIVOR")
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They walk out of woods like, you know, "Lord of the Flies," and I think the others were quite interested in our discovery, so we took a group field trip.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is wrong with you people? GERVASE: It was a great feeling, just like a night full of celebration for everybody. You get together, get dirty, have a little fun, have a couple of laughs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we really don't want to be voted off.
JENNA: But it's also just to get away from the daily grind here. We're going to be here 39 days, you got to keep yourself happy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Before we ask where all this is going, let's take call from Colorado Springs -- hello. Hello? Are you there? Colorado Springs, are you there?
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: Yes, I was wondering if Mary-Ellis can tell me the kind of people that she picks for her show, that she always seems to pick people -- you know, a gay person, a partyer, a hellraiser, a peacekeeper. Does -- is that what she is looking for to build her, you know, diversity, or what exactly is she looking for?
KING: Mary-Ellis, is that what you're after?
BUNIM: Well you know, everyone assumes that we start every casting season looking to pigeonhole people starting with categories to fill.
KING: You don't have that?
BUNIM: That's not case at all. We sort through 35,000 applicants.
KING: But do you want a gay in the house?
BUNIM: Well, if the gay is a very interesting person, but ultimately, we choose the seven most interesting people we can find.
KING: What are you after?
BURNETT: I was after four things. One, could they make it 39 days, and actually not quit on me? Were they diverse, in old, young, rich, poor, black, white? Hopefully, next time Hispanic and Asian. I was also looking for, were they psychologically balanced? You know, would they harm themselves through the embarrassments of being voted off? Would they harm others? So I really had a big matrix that I overlaid to try to choose them. It was nothing about pigeonholing certain types, because the thing is, I thought Bebe (ph) was going to be a likable old grandfather and be taking care of everybody. Bebe turned out a hard-charging CEO. So you can't pigeonhole people, Larry, it's impossible.
KING: It really begins to become people in real life situations that you say you can compare to corporate structure, or a baseball team or anything in which groups are together.
BURNETT People want a leader. People want to lead. People want to be liked. And that's why after the first 30 seconds on the first day on the beach, they forgot the cameras were there. They were more worried about their fellow castaways liking them, and the camera crew (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
KING: Your camera people have to be very good, right, on both these shows?
KING: They're living with these people. At the same time, they're journalists.
BURNETT: Yes, and I've had the same camera crews now for the last six years. On "Echo Challenge," my other show, probably the best adventure...
KING: You're an adventurer yourself, right? You fought in the Falklands, right? You were a parachutist, right?
KING: So this is like a piece of cake to you, right? You would have volunteered for this.
BURNETT: I would have volunteered for the island, but I probably would have been the first person kicked off, I'm sure.
KING: Mary-Ellis, you're going to be leaving us and Paul is going to be coming in because of space. Where do you think it's all going? Give me a prediction? What are we going to see two years from now across the board on television?
BUNIM: Well, I would hope that reality television isn't based on just extreme behavior, and that people try to top each other until...
KING: That's your hope.
KING: What do you think?
BUNIM: Well, "The Real World" is nine years old, and I do think because of its quality storytelling, it's going to be around for another nine.
KING: So that'll stay.
KING: Do you think, though, the process and other shows will get worse?
BUNIM: I think it has the potential of burning itself out, with people trying to top it.
KING: Too much of it.
KING: Do you fear it getting worse, Ramona?
KING: You like it.
GRAY: I like it.
KING: You're going to go on another show, aren't you, somewhere?
GRAY: I wish I could, I do.
KING: Do you think it's going to get worse? By worse, I mean we're going to see people in crazed situations.
PROBST: I think there's certainly the potential for that, there certainly is.
KING: Potential for a death on one of these show? Potential?
PROBST: Well, I think television companies revolve around pleasing advertisers, and we saw with Fox's marrying a multimillionaire how that and came and went, because it certainly wasn't good for advertisers. So I think the need to have constant dollars and keeping advertisers happy will keep producers in check.
KING: Julie, are you worried where these shows are going to go?
JULIE: Not "Real World," not at all. I mean, we're the best, we'll stay.
KING: She's a delight, huh?
We're going to take a break.
Thank you for, Mary-Ellis for coming. Mary Ellis will be leaving us, the co-creator and executive producer of "The Real World" on MTV, and we'll meet Paul Romer and find out about all about the new most talked about show, the one that's coming next week, I think, July next week, "Big Brother" to CBS.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SURVIVOR")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're washing your in our food container?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yep. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's washing his clothes in fresh water.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's washing his clothes with the canteen water?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unbelievable, man.
JOEL, "SURVIVOR" CONTESTANT: When we get back, we're going to make some rice, we're happy. The first thing he does, is he washes his T-shirt in the kettle we're going to cook the rice in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not imposing my will!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't do anything here without everybody agreeing. We all you have to agree what we're doing going to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been working my ass off, and a lot of you have been laying on your ass watching me. Don't give me any of that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Working your ass off?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've all been working.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've worked 20 times much as you. I'm not faulting you, but when you start getting on my ass about working!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what you think. You didn't one trek in this jungle yet! You're ass has been sitting down here!
CERVASE: If Bebe thinks anybody in our tribe is slacking, the heat is affecting him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back discussing reality TV.
If you don't think this thing is taking off, this is a "Time" cover. "TV Guide" is looking at the world of MTV our seven panelists. And look at "Survivor" secrets in "The Globe" -- who hates who, who sleeps with who, gay surprises.
Our guests are -- not you, Ramona -- Ramona Gray, voted off "Survivor," Jeff Probst, the host of all of this, who has to pretty much live the life they do, Mark Burnett, the executive producer. Julie is in Milwaukee. She's in the cast of MTV's "The Real World." And we're now joined by Paul Romer, executive producer of "Big Brother," coming to CBS July 5 five nights a week.
PAUL ROMER, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "BIG BROTHER": Absolutely.
KING: Yet already a hit in Europe, right?
ROMER: A big hit in Europe, in three different countries. KING: A big hit?
ROMER: Yes, a big hit.
KING: Were you part of it there?
ROMER: Yes, I am co-creator of the first series in Holland, and we helped start German and Spanish version.
KING: Are you from the Netherlands?
ROMER: Netherlands, yes.
KING: All right, what we're seeing when we see scenes, this is from "Big Brother" where? In Holland?
ROMER: This is from "Big Brother" in Holland yes. This is number two. His name is Rut (ph). He was the most popular one.
And here you see some shots from behind the scenes, the control room, where we can see all the camera shots and where we decide which camera we are going to record.
KING: What is purpose of "Big Brother," to throw how many people together?
ROMER: We started with 10 people, and in the end, we'll have three people left, seven people to leave the house during the three months they live there, and in end, on the last day of the project, the audience makes a telephone vote, and the audience decides who will be the winner, and the winner will earns $500,000 .
KING: And what do the two losers get?
ROMER: The number two gets $100,000 and number three gets $50,000.
KING: And they live there 24 hours a day?
KING: And you film them 24 hours a day?
ROMER: Twenty-four-seven, there's no privacy at all, they don't have any contact with the outside world, so there's no telephone,no radio, no papers, and they live back to basics, so there's no luxury in the house.
KING: And what do you show me of the 24 hours when I watch it on the first night.
ROMER: Well, what you see on the first night is the people getting into the house. They are strangers for each other. They didn't meet each other before they entered the house.
KING: Where is house, by the way, in America? ROMER: It's in Los Angeles on a studio lot.
KING: OK, they shot already then.
ROMER: And the house is finished, and the people will go in the house on July 4.
KING: This is the house, right?
KING: The "Big Brother" house.
ROMER: The "Big Brother" house.
KING: They will go in on July 4?
ROMER: July 4, in the evening, and we tape then opening show which will air on July 5, and on July 6, the first evening, you'll see first half hour of their stay in the house, of the first day in the house.
KING: Have you had any crazy things happen in Europe?
ROMER: Well, what you see is that...
KING: Two people hate each other.
ROMER: Well, they hate each other, but they each other, too. We have some love fairs in all the houses.
KING: Had sex in house.
ROMER: We had sex in house, in all the countries.
KING: Cameras get to see that, too?
ROMER: Well, we show it to audience, but in a way that you don't see explicit shots. So you'll see...
KING: So you know that number a went to bed with number c?
ROMER: Yes, absolutely, because the show is all about human interactions. It's people who are, loving each other, hating each other. They fight, they cry, they laugh -- all emotions, we'll see in the house.
KING: Is there a host?
ROMER: There is a host once a week. Once a week we have live show from studio, and there when somebody leaves the house every other week; we do that during live show. So then we take the person out of the house, we bring them to the studio, and there we have an hour special about his or her stay in the house.
KING: So the difference between that and "Survivor" is obviously many -- the island, the house, the public votes -- the public doesn't vote on "Survivor."
What do you think, Mark, of this?
BURNETT: I think it's going to be interesting. It's a lot of television, and...
KING: Five nights a week.
BURNETT: As long as the story setting is good. The bottom line here should be unscripted story telling, and I'm sure Paul knows exactly what he's doing. It's worked in Europe, and it could work very well here.
KING: So it has to be a good story, right? I've got to be interested in the people.
ROMER: Yes, absolutely. So we selected very interesting personalities, but we found out that whenever you put 10 people in a house during three months under those circumstances, they will go through the range of emotions we know from own lives, and we prove normal people are interesting to watch.
KING: Even with cameras walking around.
ROMER: Yes, they don't see the cameras, because the cameramen are behind two-way mirrors, so they don't meet people from the production. They only see themselves during those three months.
KING: Hey, Julie, would you have volunteered for this one?
JULIE: "Big Brother?" It seems a little less real than what I did. I don't know if I would have been into it. I didn't do "The Real World" for money. I obviously did it for the experience. But you know, who knows? I'm kind of partial to my show.
KING: Jeff, what do you think of the CBS gamble here?
PROBST: With "Survivor," and -- you mean the whole thing?
KING: No. I mean, "Survivor" is once a week.
PROBST: Right. Well you know, I really don't know, I don't know. I think it is was a big risk to put "Survivor" in and commit to a series without any sort of a pilot. They didn't have any look at our footage. We're on another island 15,000 miles away. They took that risk and it paid off, so I think obviously, you know, they think they may be on to something.
KING: Ramona, what do you think?
GRAY: I would like to go in the house as the 11th person.
KING: She can't get enough.
GRAY: I can't get enough. KING: Don't you like the idea of the public voting? I mean, doesn't that really build you up to make the public -- once you get hooked - -if they get a good audience the first night, they're going to guarantee a good audience second, don't they, as long as they've got good stories?
BURNETT: Yes, I think the audience voting is very interactive and could be very good, wouldn't work on "Survivor," because "Survivor" is about the tribe in itself. It's like the court of Caesar -- "Et tu, Brutus."
KING: Yes. So they're totally different concepts.
ROMER: Well, and the big difference between "Survivor," and "The Real World" and "Big Brother," is that "Survivor" and "The Real World" are shot up front, so that they first shoot all the material, and then go to edit and make stories. We are almost live. We have only 24- hour delay, so we don't know what will happen tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, as the audience doesn't know.
KING: In Europe, is it on every night?
ROMER: Yes, seven nights a week.
KING: It is. Here you're going to be on 30 minutes Monday and Tuesday, nothing on Wednesday, an hour on Thursday, 30 on Friday, and an hour on Saturdays. The obvious, why nothing on Wednesday?
ROMER: Well, there is now a show that's doing very well. It's called "Survivor." So the first six weeks of "Big Brother," "Survivor" is on. And when "Big brother" is the success it was in Europe, I'll sure we will fill the gap "Survivor" leaves after six weeks.
KING: If you leave, when do you come back?
BURNETT: I guess we'll be right after the Super Bowl, which is on CBS as well this year. So we'll be, I guess, the last week of January, the first week of February.
KING: And you'll run how long?
BURNETT: We will run 13 or 15 episodes. I'm not sure exactly what we're doing on season.
KING: So can they run you year-around? Is it possible or impossible?
BURNETT: It's possible. We chose not to come on in November because we have a very, very high quality production, as you've seen, and we're still new, we're still learning, we'd like to be very successful, and we thought it's better to do it slowly and come on back on in January.
KING: Do you like "Survivor?"
KING: You do?
KING: Would "Survivor" be a hit in Europe?
ROMER: It is a hit in Europe. It's in Norway, and Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland, and it's doing very, very well over there.
KING: OK, we can't show you clips yet from "Big Brother," but we'll be paying a lot of attention to it, trust me.
Here is another scene from "Survivor." We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SURVIVOR")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prettier and prettier.
KELLEY, "SURVIVOR" CONTESTANT: Well, thank you.
STACEY, "SURVIVOR" CONTESTANT: Dirk has a little crush on Kelley. he doesn't have a chance in Hell.
KELLY: Stacy came up to me, I think he likes you, you know, I was just like, oh, great. You know, I didn't come out here for that. You know, I don't -- we don't need that.
DIRK, "SURVIVOR" CONTESTANT: Kelley has got a serious boyfriend, and unless she tells me otherwise, that's a line I'm not going to cross.
DIRK: I love you, a platonic type of love.
KELLEY: I think he's really sexually frustrated.
DIRK: I've gone 23 years without sex. I think you guys can go seven weeks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You should try it. You should try it sometime. You might like it.
DIRK: It's just funny...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You might like -- I know you'll like it.
DIRK: I know I'm going to love it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You'll come back. You'll come back.
DIRK: It's a gift from God, there's no doubt, man.
KELLEY: I'm obviously not a virgin. If he -- that's how he wants to live his life, that's cool. You don't meet too many 23-year- old guys who are virgins.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're talking about reality TV with guests all involved with it.
Lets go to Blairsville, Georgia -- hello.
CALLER: Yes, I have a question for Julie.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: And Ramona.
KING: All right.
CALLER: I was wondering producers so do the show justice with what they air on TV.
KING: Oh, good question. Are we seeing the best of it, Julie?
JULIE: From what I have seen so far, it's really accurate. I think they do a really a good job of portraying the way things were, and you know, in a way entertaining for everyone to watch, so.
GRAY: I think it -- the show was done justice also. I just think could have run for two hours instead of one. There is just so much.
KING: You do? There is enough in it?
GRAY: There was so much footage that was taken, I just wish the public could see everything.
KING: What's your decision-making process like, Paul?
ROMER: Well, what we do, when a day, 24 hours, we just identify the highlights, and we just cut them together, and that's the base of the show, and we have to do reality justice because we are on the Internet 24-7 on four streams, so everyone can see what happens in the house.
KING: Wait a minute, I got an Internet, I can watch you all day?
ROMER: All day, on four different streams. So that's a big part of the show, in Holland, the Internet success as big as the television success.
KING: what's Jeff has happened to privacy? This is everybody's famous. PROBST: Yes, like I said earlier, I do think there's a bit of that appeal. Some of the people are very clear about it. Ramona probably knows better than I do than I do that they wanted to be...
KING: Ramona is going to appear in "Shaft 2." We'll see Ramona on "Big Brother" two weeks from Sunday.
PROBST: You know, the thing, though, about "Survivor" anyway, I think Ramona hit on the truth, which was mark said to me from very beginning, I want this to be the biggest adventure of these people's lives, if that means high highs and low lows, and to a person, after each person got voted off, I would see them before they got on this boat for two-hour ride back to mainland, they said, best time I have ever had.
KING: Are your people getting to know each other now, or they don't get to know each other until they move in?
ROMER: They don't know each other until the moment they go through front door -- they're complete strangers.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments -- we'll be devoting a lot more attention to this, as you devote a lot more attention to watching it.
Speaking of that, Darva Conger will be here tomorrow night with Hugh Hefner.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SURVIVOR")
PROBST: Bebe. The last vote irrelevant. Bebe, I need to have you grab your torch and bring it to me. Go ahead and slide over here.
Bebe, the tribe has spoken. It's time for you go.
DIRK: All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Nobody seemed upset.
By the way, a week from tomorrow night, when "Big Brother" debuts, they're going to be back to back. Who's first?
BURNETT: Sure, we should be first, give them a lead in.
KING: That's right, because you've got a humongous audience, so you're going to lead into "Big Brother" one week from tomorrow night. BURNETT: That's correct.
KING: Now we mentioned Darva Conger is going to be here tomorrow night with Hugh Hefner. She's in "Playboy." What about...
GRAY: No thank you.
KING: Julie, do you want to go in "Playboy?"
JULIE: Not today, thanks, though.
KING: OK. Is it true that someone on the Internet is asking who do you want from "Survivor" to go on to "Playboy," to go into "Playboy" nude.
BURNETT: Yes, there's voting from the public on the Internet right now on which of the women of "Survivor" should do playboy. There has not been an offer and they haven't said they would do it, but there's voting. There's also betting in Las Vegas on who's going to win "Survivor."
KING: What, Paul, do you think this tells us about us?
ROMER: It tells us that we are curious to other human beings. We want to know what other people do, how other people think, how other people live. That's the success of these shows.
KING: Are you surprised that a lot of the press have said I've seen didn't "Survivor," and I didn't want to like it, I wanted to hate it, and I liked it? Were you surprised? A lot of critics said that -- I went in getting ready to blast it.
BURNETT: I -- you know, I think what's great about that the critics can be honest and tell truth to readers, and there's not much to dislike about it, if you like storytelling, as you yourself said, Larry.
KING: It's nighttime soap.
KING: It's a soap with real people in situations that soap operas don't put you in.
PROBST: With scripts you couldn't possibly right, ever.
KING: And these seven people in the house -- 10 people in this house, small house.
KING: Just once they get in, that's it? Whatever happens, happens.
ROMER: We don't interfere with them, unless...
KING: They get all the basic food needs?
KING: They have television?
ROMER: They have vegetable gardens. No, no television, no contact with the outside world. So they are...
KING: No phone?
ROMER: No phone, no radio, they only have themselves.
KING: Right up your alley, Ramona. This is made for you.
GRAY: I want to make a special appearance in the house.
KING: And the film gets processed, taken right out of the house, the tape, and you work on the editing immediately.
GRAY: It's an ongoing process, we are editing all day long and making pieces. It's really a whole system.
KING: Are you rivals, or you want him to do well?
BURNETT: Oh, I really hope they do well. I mean, we're both part of the CBS family, and clearly, it's better for all of us.
KING: What do you think of the bet CBS is making, Jeff?
PROBST: Yes, I think it's paying off, great. You know, I can't believe they made a bet on me on a show like this, taking a guy who had no credit, so I'm eternally grateful.
KING: You beat "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?." And "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" decided not go against you, right? Did that surprise you?
BURNETT: You know, I was surprised when they did go against us, not because of the fear of us, just because there are so few unique and new things on in the summer. It seemed like the audience were being cheated, but I was very happy to beat them. And a good friend of mine, Michael Davies, produces that, another British guy. So a little friendly British rivalry.
KING: Everybody's coming over from other place.
Thank you all very much, continued success.
And thank you, Julie. Hope you go to whatever school want you to go to.
JULIE: Thank you.
KING: On Thursday night, Dana Carvey will be here, by the way, with a lot of talk about his heart surgery.
Stay tuned for CNN "NEWSSTAND" as they look at what's going to happen to the little boy from Cuba.
Thanks for joining us, and good night.
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