Reality TV

The man in black with a silver crew-cut and tiny beard said, “Hello, I’m Frank, TV Producer.”

That’s more like it, thought Bobby. I couldn’t really see myself with the previous two people – a lawyer and an accountant – but I could probably hang out with a TV producer. That was the whole purpose of the New Ideas Show’s Speed Networking event – to meet the kind of people you wouldn’t usually come across, and share your backgrounds and goals. You never know what these new relationships can lead to.

“Pleased to meet you, I’m Bobby. I’m new in town and looking for work.”

“Excellent,” said Frank. “I always need new people. Do you watch much TV? What skills do you have? Are you single? Are you politically engaged?”

“That’s a lot of questions,” said Bobby. He wondered how he was expected to answer.

“I’m sorry; it’s the nature of my business to always question. I mainly produce reality TV shows and am always asking Who? What? How? When? And What For? Have you seen Lonely London and its spin-off Lovely London? The First One In? Why Should I Live Like That? What? You haven’t seen any of them? You’re not much of a viewer.”

“Don’t take it personally. I’ve had a lot going on in my life. There’s been no time for TV.”

“Not to worry,” said Frank, running has hand over his silvered head and stroking his tiny beard. “I’m looking to base a new show in Lucerne. I think it’s the perfect location with rich natural and cultural assets. There’s the Old Families, logging and farming for five generations, and new families escaping the stresses and expense of the city; there’s poor kids barely making a living, and billionaires building holiday homes; Anglo-Saxons and Natives, with Chinese and Indians coming in…”

So that’s the modern media business, thought Bobby. Take a trend and put your own spin on it. Make it distinctive. “What do you have in mind?” he asked.

“I’m still developing the idea. I’ve ruled out hidden cameras and hoaxes; this town is too small for those, and job searches and sports are mundane. I’m focussing on ethnic, supernatural, self-improvement…” he thought for a moment, “and maybe dating themes…”

Bobby couldn’t help interrupting. “How about helping Guru Baba,” – a famous holy man who had retired to Lucerne – “to build his karma and find a new wife in his next life?” He couldn’t believe he’d said something so ridiculous; it had come from nowhere.

Frank nodded his head, amused. “I don’t think that’s it, but I like your thinking. Look I’m in real need of story editors and segment producers. It doesn’t seem that you have technical skills, but you are a creative thinker. There are all kinds of things that need to happen behind the scenes; we need to script action, manipulate events, influence audience voting, re-stage scenes – create sensational television by whatever means. Maximise the voyeur-wow-factor to increase viewers and maximise advertising revenues.”

“But that sounds quite contrived. Don’t you make reality television?” said Bobby.

“It’s all about sex and money and twenty-four hour surveillance – how much more real can you get?”

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