March 28, 2004

The science of reality show casting.The NYT reports--on the front page--on the science of casting for a reality show:
[T]o be cast in the second season of "The Apprentice" this fall, [an auditioner] will have to make it through six rounds of cuts, two extensive questionnaires, a medical exam, an intelligence test and the kind of background check usually reserved for secret agents.

The casting of reality shows, once an intuitive, on-the-fly endeavor, has become much more of a science, with its own growing set of protocols and rituals. Several producers have hired psychologists to help them with the vetting process.
Good subject for a law school exam, isn’t it? Oh, I think the fact that there was science to the casting of reality shows was evident long ago. I did a Civil Procedure II exam using this material maybe ten years ago, after the third season of The Real World. At that point, you could see that the casting was scarcely done “on-the-fly.” There was always a person with conservative or religious principles (e.g. Rachel) who was chosen to react to the outrageous character (e.g., Puck) and the character with something about him that would challenge her values (e.g., Pedro), and a person who was extra sensitive about conflict who was chosen to suffer. The Apprentice is produced by the same company that does The Real World, so it’s no surprise that the cast of characters resembles the mix on the MTV show. You need drama and comedy, so be sure to cast a Puck--that is, in modern parlance, an Omarosa.

But suddenly it’s front page news that the producers of reality shows are putting some major effort into their selections? Oh, I think the NYT is just hot to talk about The Apprentice:
"The Apprentice" — with its majestic views of the New York skyline and lingering shots of the show's other towering presence, Donald J. Trump — is built on a seemingly can't-miss concept, a seductive weave of aspiration and Darwinism.
“Seductive weave”? “Seductive weave”? Quit making me think about Trump’s hair!

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