Mary-Ellis Bunim and
Claim to Fame: Co-produced MTV's "Real World"
Bunim and Murray first collaborated on the dramatic detective series "Crime Diaries" and a six-part reality series called "American Families" for Fox, which presented footage on the daily lives of various families After hearing of MTV's plan to launch a soap opera, they pitched "Real World" as a way of combining soap and documentary elements Launched in 1992, it became a smash with the all-important 18-34 demographic...
"Real World" is now in its ninth season It is MTV's top-rated program Bunim-Murray Productions was just signed to produce two more seasons A "Real World" spin-off on MTV, "Road Rules," follows youths riding in a Winnebago around the U.S Also produces "Making the Band" on ABC, which documents the real-life trials and tribulations of the young men in the boy band O-Town The show debuted in March and has been picked up for another season
Before teaming up with Murray, Bunim produced over 2,500 hours of soap opera television for the shows "Search for Tomorrow," "As the World Turns," "Santa Barbara" and "Loving" Later she signed on with New World Entertainment, where she developed children's programming, network daytime, and late-night television
A University of Missouri School of Journalism graduate in 1977, Murray worked for six years in such places as Green Bay, Atlanta and Rochester on local television news, programming, and station management Later worked at HRP Inc., a national television sales representative firm helping local stations to buy and schedule their syndicated programming.
Eco-Challenge Lifestyles Inc.
Claim to Fame: Executive producer of "Survivor"
Former member of British Army's Parachute Regiment and certified scuba diver and skydiver (among other "outdoorsy") credentials Founded production company Eco-Challenge Lifestyles in 1992, which has produced seven "multi-sport endurance" events sporting challenges made for television
In competitions, tries to focus on responsible land use and environmental awareness Produced five-hour show staged in various exotic locations for Discovery Channel... That production won a Sports Category Emmy Award in 1996 Won another Emmy in Special Achievement category in 1998 Formed Eco-Challenge Youth Foundation in conjunction with Los Angeles Unified School District... Program sends city kids to rural locations to participate in sports challenges
"Survivor" concept was first produced in Britain 10 years ago by Charlie Parsons, a friend of Burnett's He pitched the idea to CBS, and the network bit His interest in "compassionate team dynamics" attracted him to the idea Said on "Larry King Live" that the program is not "reality" but "dramality" a mixture of drama and reality. The outcome, Burnett says, is real, but the setting contrived Even though there's no script, he thinks the format is storytelling in its purest form Also told King that what happened on "Survivor" is a microcosm of the American workplace where "people want to get ahead and will do whatever it takes."
Chris Cowan and
Rocket Science Laboratories
Claim to Fame: Producers of "Temptation Island"
Creators of what promises to be the most controversial reality TV show since "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?" On "Temptation Island," which debuts January 2001 on Fox, couples in rocky relationships are sent to two separate resorts in Belize, men at one and women at the other. There, they're confronted by gorgeous specimens of the opposite sex trying to tempt them into affairs After two weeks, they decide whether they still want to be with their partner
Also producing another highly charged series, "Shot Gun Wedding," debuting in November on Fox Boyfriends are confronted on a TV stage and must either propose marriage to their girlfriends in front of an audience in Las Vegas or be dumped
Rocket Science Laboratories has positioned itself as a premier documentarian for an elite group of Hollywood filmmakers Collaborated with James Cameron on one-hour Fox special "Titanic: Breaking New Ground" and with Steven Spielberg on one-hour NBC special "The Making of Jurassic Park" Also produced reality-based documentaries like Fox's "Jon Benet Ramsey Story"
Cowan graduated from Ohio University with bachelor's degree in theater arts and drama and master's degree in film Michenaud is a native of France and graduated from UCLA with degrees in film, history and philosophy
Regarding the success of "Survivor," Cowan says, "All professional jealousy aside, I love it."
Executive Vice President, Specials and
Fox Broadcasting Co.
Claim to Fame: Created
"Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire"
Joined Fox in 1994, at a time when the network was doing 12 to 15 specials a year Now it does around 80 Produced Fox's early forays into reality TV with fare such as "World's Scariest Police Chases," "Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction," and "Battle of the Child Geniuses" Early hit with "When Animals Attack," a sort of "Wild Kingdom" meets "Cops."
Came up with "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire" in August 1999 while at wedding of wife's cousin "bored out of my mind," and saw potential of combining ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" hit with a fairy-tale wedding While somewhat chastened over the "Multi-Millionaire" controversy, points out that ratings for February show were very high
Has green-lit at least six new reality shows for upcoming season on Fox, including "Boot Camp," where contestants spend 28 days in remote locale living in barracks, competing for prizes (and voting each other out) while drill instructors "Lou Gossett them" Also planning to debut "Temptation Island," where four or five couples travel to a romantic resort and spend two weeks dating attractive, single men and women while cameras rolls 24/7 to determine whether any of the couples stay faithful
Married, lives with wife and daughter in Calabasas "I'm just a regular viewer and just want to be entertained, that's the bottom line, whatever the show is," he says.
Mike Itkin, Greg Lipstone,
William Morris Agency
Claim to Fame: Packaged "Big Brother" and
"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"
Packaging is the art of putting ideas, producers and studios/networks together, and in reality TV this William Morris team leads the way Itkin (pictured) has roots in the genre extending back to "American Gladiator," which ran in syndication for eight years Thanks in part to a London-based associate, the group identified the European upsurge in variety shows and other reality TV early, including "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," and worked to shape the shows for an American audience Selection of Regis Philbin as host of "Millionaire" was in no small part due to fact that William Morris represents him
Scored big when CBS paid Dutch production company Endemol Entertainment a reported $20 million for "Big Brother" Recently represented Endemol again in packaging "Chains of Love" to NBC, which until recently was the most reluctant of the networks to embrace reality TV. In "Chains," a member of one sex is shackled to four members of the opposite sex, who are voted out of the group every couple of days (private bathroom breaks allowed)
Also representing LMNO Productions, which is putting on "Boot Camp" for Fox "Boot Camp" originated out of UK's Grenada Entertainment, and William Morris facilitated relationship with LMNO Itkin and Lipstone operate out of Los Angeles, Silverman out of New York, where he heads international packaging "When we represent clients, it's not just being part of the sale (of a show)," says Lipstone, "it's being involved in all aspects of keeping a show on the air."
Executive Producer, Founder
Claim to Fame: Producer of "Cops"
Co-created with (now retired) Malcolm Barber the groundbreaking series "Cops" for Fox This year, "Cops" begins its 13th season The granddaddy of video verite, "Cops" allows viewers to ride shotgun in a squad car on the beat with real officers Also produces "Anatomy of Crime" exclusively for Court TV, in its second season
Recently launched Crime.com, which offers users interactive crime-related information and news and includes the world's first live Internet feed from prison Through "jail-cam," viewers can watch activity in a holding cell
Currently creating another reality-based TV series with director Richard Donner Details under wraps
"Compared to other shows these days, 'Cops' is positively tame, but still has edginess and the element of surprise," Langley says
About the surprise success of "Survivor," Langley says, "It is not reality TV, but a game show with the elements of a soap opera unlike 'Cops,' which is the purest reality show no actors, no narration, no host and no script."
Highly varied career includes stint with U.S. Army Intelligence in Panama in late 1960s After the Army, earned a master's degree in English and pursued Ph.D. studies at UC Irvine After college, founded and published Valley Life magazine in Los Angeles Also became a contributing editor to Film News International.
October Moon Television
Claim to Fame: The first distributor of a
syndicated reality TV show
MTV's long-running "Real World" is the first reality show to enter the syndication market, and Chuck Larsen is in charge of selling it His efforts are viewed as a test of whether such shows can stand the test of time and play as well in repeats as they do in first runs
Larsen agreed to distribute "Real World" when MTV couldn't find a distributor He believed in the show because of its strong ratings and devoted audience Ultimately signed up 179 television stations covering more than 90 percent of the country to air "Real World" reruns, which will premiere Oct. 2 Currently focused on making sure this season runs smoothly, but already talking with stations about taking on a second season
President of October Moon Television, a Pacific Palisades-based distribution consulting company... Essentially protects producers' rights and interests, while also assisting distributor with research, marketing, deal points and other strategies Usually consults for networks or production companies that want to syndicate their programs Will, on rare occasions, oversee distribution internally
Began career in entertainment as a radio disc jockey and news reporter... Also worked as a television news anchor with then-weatherman David Letterman in Indianapolis Came to collaborate with Letterman on subsequent projects Later served as president of MTM Worldwide Distribution.
Donna E. Lusitana
Claim to Fame: Executive produced over 600 hours for A & E;'s Emmy Award-winning series "Biography"
Greystone has garnered Emmys for such documentaries as "Hitler: Man & Myth" and "Pearl Harbor" Like many TV documentary producers, Lusitana and partner Craig Haffner are breaking into reality television
Developing two new reality TV programs, "Paintball S.P.L.A.T." and "In-Laws & Outlaws" and currently pitching them to networks "Paintball S.P.L.A.T." is being developed as a half-hour weekly series in which teams compete in more than 30 possible scenarios, sort of like war games only using guns loaded with paintballs Points accumulated determine the amount of money the winning team picks up for its favorite charity
"In-Laws & Outlaws" is a real life "Family Feud" One-hour weekly series takes place on a working ranch in Albuquerque, pitting families of a bride and groom soon to be married against each other. They are forced to ride entire days on horseback, sleep wherever the trails take them, and avoid being ambushed by their future in-laws 24 hours a day They vie for a $200,000 reward.
Other documentaries executive produced by Lusitana include "Ancient Prophecies & Angels" for NBC and "Brute Force The History of Weapons at War" for the History Channel Longtime partners since their days at KABC-TV Channel 7, Lusitana and Haffner have been together over 20 years
During her years at KABC between 1979 and 1986, Lusitana rose to the position of executive producer of programming In 1987, she and co-worker Haffner left KABC to form Greystone Communication, where she is president of Greystone Television.
Termite Art Productions
Claim to Fame: Producer of "World's Most
Dangerous Animals" and "Busted on the Job"
Termite Art claims to have more shows with more networks than any other American producer of reality programming Has slew of cable shows, but made a name for itself on broadcast with "World's Most Dangerous Animals" on CBS and prime-time series "What's So Funny?" on Fox Currently producing series of specials for Fox under the name "Busted on the Job, When Good Times Go Bad" featuring videotapes of employees committing illegal or dishonest acts
Nelson says game shows were strictly last year, and "Survivor" and its knockoffs are on the way out He sees next trend as hidden-camera shows, "like 'Candid Camera' with an edge" Company discourages pitches from outsiders, creates all program ideas in-house
Nelson started in television in 1979 In 1984, moved to Los Angeles to work for KABC-TV Channel 7 Produced "Legends of the Spanish Kitchen" with unlikely pairing of Lorne Greene and Phil Hartman, with music by Los Lobos Left KABC in 1987 Wrote and produced "Secrets and Mysteries" Became head writer for "Unsolved Mysteries" in 1988
Left for Four Point Entertainment in 1990, later became vice president of creative affairs Wrote, directed and produced numerous documentary-style shows such as "Real Ghosts," "Missing Reward" and "Encounters"
Started Termite Art Productions in 1995 Currently in production on reality-based shows for 10 different cable and broadcast networks, including "Great Streets" for PBS, "Busted" for Fox, "Burlesque" for A & E; and "Ripley's Believe it or Not" for TBS.
Norinne De Gal
Evolution Film & Tape
Claim to Fame: Producer of "Big Brother"
Lukewarm reviews haven't deterred Ross and co-producers of "Big Brother" for CBS Currently trying to breathe life into the show by offering $10,000 to any cast member who wants to make an early exit Show apparently has alternate cast member waiting in wings who might give the show a lift
"Big Brother" received added hype on coattails of reality mega-hit "Survivor" Format involves 10 people confined to Los Angeles home Show airs six days a week, presenting video excerpts of the previous 24 hours in the sparse, utilitarian house Intended as game show, with final person in the house receiving $500,000
Ross founded North Hollywood-based Evolution Film & Tape along with partners Greg Stewart and Rupert Thompson Employs 10 full-time staffers and 70 contract workers Evolution has attracted attention for its loose, unmonitored approach to its employees Allows them to create their own hours and bring their children to work
Previously, Evolution produced reality series for Disney called "Bug Juice," centered on real kids at a summer camp in Maine Other shows include "Totally Hoops" and "Movie Surfers" Also involved in commercials and promos.
Chairman and CEO
Court TV Network
Claim to Fame: Put Court TV on the cable map
Joined Court TV as president and CEO in 1998, added chairman title last year Credited with turning low-rated cable network, which showed little more than footage from trials when he arrived, into a player by adding original reality series and specials
Former attorney Entered entertainment field as senior vice president of business affairs and administration for HBO Next became senior vice president of Viacom International Inc. before leaving for Court TV Reality series launched under his watch include "Crime Stories," "Hollywood & Crime" and "Inside Cellblock" Also added syndicated network shows like "Profiler," "Homicide: Life on the Street" and "Wiseguy."
Newest crime-related reality show is "Confession," a half-hour weekly program premiering in September that is already eliciting controversy Show is taken from Manhattan D.A. videotapes of actual criminal confessions Also premiering on Court TV in December is "Brooklyn North," with unprecedented access to the Brooklyn North Homicide Task Force Show captures everyday events of detectives and their personal lives over a period of five months
Continues to build on hallmark daytime trial coverage with anchors, co-hosts and commentators such as Catherine Crier and Alan Dershowitz
"Reality TV is a backlash against the frequently mundane fictional sitcoms and dramas," Schleiff says. "Manufactured reality, like 'Survivor' and 'Big Brother,' is relatively comfortable because it provides a Hollywood-produced version of life, while un-manufactured reality like you see on Court TV is often troubling, but more compelling because it provides a more real picture of the world in which we live."
Schleiff is not surprised at success of "Survivor" "If you take something different, novel and well-produced and place it against boring broadcasts and add music, coconuts and a million dollars, it does not surprise me (that the show took off)."
President and CEO
Claim to Fame: Producer of "Kids Say the Darndest Things" and "Guinness World Records: Primetime"
Began career as journalist for daily news program at public TV station KQED in San Francisco After moving to Los Angeles, created hit magazine series "Eye on L.A." for KABC-TV Channel 7 in 1980. In 1990, founded LMNO (Leave My Name Off) Productions
Last year, executive produced array of network and cable programs, including CBS series "Kids Say the Darndest Things," currently being evaluated for specials or syndication Another success was Fox Network's hit series "Guinness World Records: Primetime" based on feats by people listed in the Guinness Book of World Records
This fall, LMNO premieres several knockoffs of British reality-based shows, including "Since You've Been Gone" and "Boot Camp," which Schotz calls a companion piece to "Survivor"
"Since You've Been Gone" sends four participants to a secret destination shut off from civilization and cultural influences for a week. Upon their return, each contestant is subjected to questions regarding current events and their own personal lives "Boot Camp" will feature 16 participants, split equally among men and women, enduring a real-life, military-style boot camp run by former U.S. military drill instructors Two finalists each earn cash prizes and a luxury trip around the world
"People like to watch people," Schotz says. "They like a good story that is compelling and dramatic, with a feeling of, 'There but for the grace of God go I.'"
Ruth Webb Agency
Claim to Fame: Represents several
"Survivor" cast members
Spillane is a talent agent who represents "Survivor" cast members Rudy, Sue, Gervase, Joel, B.B. and Sonja She tracked down Gervase after he ate a live worm during one of the show's challenges "He was making faces, hitting himself, waving his arms. A light bulb went off, and I said, 'I have to represent him,'" Spillane recalls After she landed Gervase, others signed on... For a brief time she also represented the winner, Richard Hatch, but he "flew the coop" for Creative Artists Agency, she says...
Her "Survivors" now have deals for TV, movies, personal appearances and commercials They've received offers to comment during "Survivor II," set to premiere in January. "The offers are flying in," Spillane says Received more than 1,000 faxes, e-mails and phone calls during the two weeks following the season finale of "Survivor" "I've been through media storms before, but this is crazy," she says...
Left her acting career to join the Ruth Webb Agency in 1992 Turned it from an agency that represented Broadway stars and resurrected careers (for actors including Mickey Rooney) into an agency that represents people suddenly thrust into the national spotlight, usually because of a scandal Signed first "scandal" client Tonya Harding after her attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan effectively ended her skating career Signed scores of clients during the O.J. Simpson trial, including Kato Kaelin and a Judge Ito look-alike
Was a client of Ruth Webb's during her time as an actress Starred in Las Vegas productions of "South Pacific" and "Oklahoma" Former wife of Mickey Spillane.
Lynne Spiegel Spillman
"Survivor" and "Survivor II: The Australian Outback"
Claim to Fame: Picked the Regular Joes who
became stars after "Survivor"
As casting director for "Survivor II: The Australian Outback," endowed with task of overseeing who'll become the next Rich, Kelly, Sue and Rudy Sifted through about 6,100 applications for the first "Survivor" Waded through just under 50,000 applications for "Survivor II" Beginning in June, received everything from rubber snakes, stuffed koalas and kangaroos, and blowup alligators, to a live turtle, treasure chests and a model airplane in the mail Had a team of 30 employees helping review submissions Kept them on standby during the last days of the application period, which ended July 28, in anticipation of a slew of candidates Ended up receiving 10,000 tapes in one day
Got her start in casting through a high school friend, who got her a gig finding contestants for MTV's wacky dating game, "Singled Out" Later worked on Comedy Central's "Make Me Laugh" and The WB's "Blind Date" Was tapped to cast "Survivor" because of her experience with shows targeted at young viewers, a demographic CBS was eager to attract Now one of just a handful of people in Hollywood who solely recruit regular people to play themselves on TV
Grew up in Philadelphia Married to TV reporter Eric Spillman Mother of two who hopes to finally return to a fairly normal schedule once casting for "Survivor II" is completed this month.
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