Monday, June 04, 2007

"Reality" TV for Book Lovers

For a long time, I've ridiculed "Reality" TV to anyone who stands still long enough to listen to me. I detest it and I sincerely believe that it's as much a culprit in the dumbing down of America as anything else that the media have thrown at us. Any time that I stumble onto thirty seconds of "The Bachelor" I wonder how this country manages to survive for another day. Now I see that "Reality" TV for book lovers may be the next chapter in the never ending parade because Simon Cowell's big brother, Tony, is about to launch such a show in the U.K. The photo shows Tony Cowell, standing, at a London Book Fair panel discussion.

I lived in London during some of the '90s and, from what I can tell, "Reality" TV had its start in the U.K. because several of the shows that I remember from those days were later adapted for American audiences (Survivor, American Idol, Big Brother, and the like). So if "Bestseller" is a hit in the U.K. it is only a matter of time (and not much of that) before knockoffs of the show are on television all over the world, including the U.S.
Now would-be writers are to get the reality TV show treatment in an attempt to find a new Dan Brown or JK Rowling.

Aspiring authors will be invited to pitch their ideas for a blockbuster novel to a panel of judges headed by Tony Cowell, big brother of The X Factor's Simon Cowell.

Winners will receive a six-figure advance and a deal with a major publisher in Britain and America. Contestants who survive the first round will be 'mentored' by a line-up of authors expected to include Jackie Collins and Jeffrey Archer.

"We want people of different backgrounds and ages to take part' said Tony Cowell. "It could be a 20-year-old student who adores Harry Potter or an 80-year-old lady who wants to be the new Agatha Christie.

Viewers will see the mechanics of writing a book - how people come up with a crazy idea and make it work against all the odds.

"The only conditions are that they must have a completed manuscript and never have been published before. Some will have had hundreds of rejections. But we want to give them another chance."
I've really got mixed emotions about this one. On the one hand, the show might offer some insight into how the publishing business really works and might present some interesting writers who refuse to give in to the rejections that they've received. On the other hand, Jackie Collins is on the panel of judges. Enough said.

24 comments:

  1. Could be interesting, but I'm also not a fan of reality television. Or most television for that matter. But I also don't see myself being interested in the novel published from this show. I'm just not sure how they will make this into good television, will they have people reading parts from their manuscripts?

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  2. LOL...I have to say I AM a fan of several reality TV shows (please don't hold that against me) and look forward to something relating to books. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  3. Matt, I don't have high hopes for what will win this kind of competition but, who knows, maybe some of the "also rans" will turn out to be the real finds.

    I assume that the writers are going to have to do some reading and some detailed plot explanations but how they are going to make this interesting for the average television audience is going to be the real challenge since most television addicts probably are not readers.

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  4. Joy, I'm curious as to how this one will work myself.

    Hey, just don't tell me that you are a fan of "The Bachelor." Some things are best kept hidden... :-)

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  5. I agree with you Sam...Jackie Collins? And I question whether they're looking for the next bestseller or the next great piece of writing - they're not always the same thing. But I probably will tune it for the first show, just out of curiosity.

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  6. I suspect that it's not titled "Bestseller" for no reason. Do let us know about the format and whether it's worth watching. If it succeeds in the U.K., I know it will be here by next summer.

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  7. I don't think all reality TV is created equal. It depends on how it's pulled off. Reality TV in general is no worse than some sitcoms.

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  8. Maybe it's a generational thing, John, but I find it pretty disgusting to watch women prostitute themselves on "The Bachelor" or to watch the voyeurism inherent in "Big Brother." Too, I find it weird to see obnoxious people made into celebrities the way that "Survivor" manages to do it. On the other hand, though, I don't see anything wrong with "American Idol" or "Dancing with the Stars." Those are harmless enough and people seem to love them. I'm not even sure that they fall into the real definition of "reality" TV except maybe for the auditions part of "Idol."

    As for sitcoms, I'd be hard pressed to name any of the ones that are on the air these days. They've definitely gone into the tank in recent years, IMO. The last two that I watched at all were "King of Queens" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" and both of those are gone now.

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  9. I agree with your Bachelor comments. But I'm a die-hard Amazing Race fan, so I have to defend reality T.V. for that show alone (though it's really an outdoor game show). Like I say, all reality TV is not created equal.

    And I just noticed that Jackie Collins is a judge. Akin to David Hasselhoff telling us which American has got talent?

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  10. I've only seen the commercials for "Amazing Race," John. In truth, I just don't watch television. I'm a die hard fan of "The Sopranos" and that's been the one hour of television that I've watched per week for about a year now...and since "The Sopranos" is not always on with new episodes, I've skipped any TV for weeks at a time.

    So most of what I know about television these days is based on what I saw of the shows in the past and the commercials that I've stopped to watch if walking through the room when my wife has the set on.

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  11. I think there's no question that the book world needs to open up the selection process a little.

    This kind of thing works best on the internet, though, which is a print medium to begin with, as opposed to TV.

    I read today about some company already doing something like this:

    http://economist.com/business/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9261810

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  12. I'm not a fan of reality TV. I can handle American Idol. That's about it!

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  13. Anonymous, it probably would work better on the internet but I don't suppose there's much money to be made that way, and we all know that this is about making money for the creators of the show and its producers.

    I think that Borders has done something a bit similar to this also but I haven't followed it.

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  14. I hear you, egg, and I've even grown very tired of Idol other than some of the craziness that goes on during the tryouts. It's all very tedious and taints of being rigged after that because the voting is not about singing talent, it's about looks.

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  15. I'm excited about the whole concept, Andea, and I do hope that it happens. But it's a little spooky to already be hearing that the whole thing may have been more hype than reality. Here's hoping that Cowell manages to pull this off with enough success that the concept spreads to other countries.

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  16. I think we should steer right away from that topic of conversation. I heard that Prospect TV are doing the show too and they do a lot of lifestyle stuff and i cannot wait for this project to happen. On TV next Spring

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  17. I'm anxiously awaiting it myself, Andea, even if only seen through the eyes of my U.K. friends. It has to be a success there if it is ever to hit these shores, so I'm pulling for Cowell and company to pull this thing off. I'm counting on them to do it right and to do it well.

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  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  19. Due to a number of libellous anonymous postings on blogs about me - may I just confirm that my TV show Bestseller has been commissioned by ITV and will go to air in the UK in 2008. If anyone would like further information please contact our producers, Prospect Pictures at info@prospect-uk.com. Thank you.
    Tony Cowell
    Cowellmedia.com
    tony@cowellmedia.com

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  20. I am keen to enter but as instructed by Tony Cowell on what I think is his post I contacted Prospect Pictures for further info on how to apply and they replied they are not doing the show.
    I guess someone else is or did the person who replied to the email get it wrong????
    Who do we contact now please for entry forms etc - do we send the manuscripts to ITV for Mr Cowells atention?
    I don't want to miss out on pitching to the judges
    Thanks
    Marc
    author in making ( I hope)

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  21. Sorry that I can't help you, Marc. Perhaps Cowell will contact you or post further instructions here.

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  22. Prospect Pictures told me today (19th December 2007) they are no longer associated with this programme and Mr Cowell is not answering his emails.

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  23. Anonymous, since you are in London, you are much closer to this than I am here in Houston. I haven't heard from Cowell since he was so unhappy with some of the comments made here anonymously that I removed on his behalf.

    I would suggest that you try to contact his office to see what the status of the show might be.

    I was initially very excited about it all and wanted badly to promote it here. Some of the shine is gone now because of my experience in this thread. I know nothing more and don't particularly care to learn more, frankly.

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  24. It's a shame Mr Cowell is no longer answering emails etc - he talked this show up and now he appears to not be available..maybe he's on holidays???

    There is nothing wrong if the TV channel has decided not to proceed there are many more out there who I am sure would run the show and there are people wanting to enter.

    It would be nice though to see a post from Mr Cowell confirming what's going on after all a lot of people wanted to enter and to just cut off communication it kinda hurts for us unlucky writers out there. Mr Cowell's had lots of books published please can he let us wannabes know what's happening and how to enter? I think th show is a good idea...Mr Cowell what's happening please let us who wnat to enter know.
    Marc
    Wannabe Author

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