shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


TV execs screwing over writers? Surely not.

The WGA is now waging war on the reality show front, taking up the Destiny's Child cry that Jim Munroe sings so well -- "Pay My Bills!"

Pssst! Hollywood writers and their union have a little secret they want to share: Some of the reality shows that are dominating the prime-time airwaves are -- spoiler alert! -- not really real.

Meaning, the writers say, the shows are written. They have scripts, called "paper cuts" in the trade. Jokes are penned for hosts, banter for judges. Plot points and narrative arcs are developed. In some cases, lines are fed directly to contestants. (The writers do not claim that the voting is rigged.)

Not by accident, the scribes say, the reality stories have a beginning and middle and end, shaped by writers who are called not writers but "story editors" or "segment producers," who use the expression "frankenbites" (after Dr. Frankenstein's monster) to describe the art of switching around contestant sound bites recorded at different times and patched together to create what appears to be a seamless narrative.

The banter is scripted?! I feel so betrayed.

Actually, I'll never forget the first time I watched the credits of "The Real World." I think it was at the fifth person credited as writer or story editor that I just figured they didn't care if we knew it was faked up.


  • At 11:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "frankenbites" (after Dr. Frankenstein's monster)

    thank god they explained that.



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