Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Show Addendum

Ready for a shocker? Kid Nation is far more entertaining than I ever could have imagined.


I followed the controversy about this new reality show all summer. Among the media charges:

--The parents had to sign a confidentiality agreement which essentially prevented them from saying their own names or risk being sued for everything they owned.

--The kids were used as slave labor.

--The kids were coached by off-camera producers to repeat certain lines or events that may not have been captured on-camera.

--The producers did not comply with New Mexico child labor laws.

Honestly…who cares? Is there a person out there who believes reality shows reflect reality? Sure, as the producers want it to be reflected. In every single reality show there are a team of writers. What do you think that team of writers writes? Intros from the host? Of course not. They write the scenarios that will be enacted by the participants. They write the games. They write, in some instances, actual scripts that are used.


Okay, they write the scripts that are suggested to the participants.

Child labor laws? Those laws were designed to protect children from being exploited. Sorry to be so cynical but the exploitation began with the parents signing their kids up for this thing. Besides, where there were cameras, there were grownups. These kids were never far from adult supervision and aid.

As for confidentiality, well, that’s SOP for the biz. Like all shows, these things are filmed long before they ever air and it’s important to keep it as far under wraps as possible. Inevitably, in this age of the internet and 25 hour a day news--

Yes, I said 25.

--it’s not surprising that stuff gets leaked and the general public finds out just barely enough about the situation to get upset.

The truth is never as interesting. Believe me.

Kid Nation takes a group of 40 kids into a deserted cowboy town and asks them to set up a government and businesses seemingly of their own making. Through various (scripted) games, they are helped by the producers to divide themselves into teams and then into laborers, council members, merchants, and cooks.

At each meeting, the four council members are asked to choose the recipient of the gold star, which translates into $20,000 for the lucky winner to spend with his or her parents however they choose when the show is over. Also, at each meeting, the host asks if anyone wants to leave. At the first meeting, an eight year old boy - who, in a surprisingly reflective grownup moment, said he was much too young to participate - asked to leave.

A reviewer in the LA Times said he would much rather watch a reality show in which children acted like adults than one in which adults acted like children.

I couldn’t agree more. And the second episode last night was even more entertaining than the first.

Your Hollywood connection,