Tag Archives: Reality tv

Congrats, Contests and Casting Call

TS and MD at IndieHappy Friday Wordsmiths! I hope everyone have a great weekend ahead. I’m a bit under the weather of aches and pains that accompanies a visit from Arthur, but that won’t deter me from going out to support my granddaughters dance performance this weekend.

We have a lot of ground to cover today, starting with a hearty congrats to authors Michelle Duster and Trina Sotira of the musewrite community for being honored with a 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Finalist Award.

Their anthology, SHIFTS,  won in the women’s issue category.  Congrats ladies. Enjoy your medals and bask in your achievements.  Readers can find more info about their great achievement and how to grab a copy of their book at www.musewrite.com or by emailing Michelle Duster at musewritecommunity@yahoo.com.

The women’s next anthology is due out March 2017. It will center on thoughts about the first lady, Michelle Obama. My poem, Brown Girl Challenge, also makes a cameo.

Changing gears

It  was such a pleasure and an honor these last weeks to bring you Andre West for my special guest interview. The owner of DreamQuestOne really did the thing! If you haven’t read his informative and inspiring writing insights, please do go back to read part one and part two. And be sure to visit Andre’s website at http://www.dreamquestone.com…

Contests accepting May submissions

My colleague and friend, Evelyn Cogdell sent me this competition. Epiphany, a literary Journal, is calling for poems and short stories. They have a June deadline.They also have a chapbook contest in the works. Check out their website and you’ll find other publications open for submissions.  http://www.everywritersresource.com/literarymagazines/epiphany-a-literary-journal/

I’m thinking about subscribing. Thanks Evelyn!


Here are more sites that are open for May submissions.



Short Story award for new writers@ https://mastersreview.com/short-story-award-for-new-writers/

Chicago Casting Call!

Usually, I post about celebrity news, reality television and Chicago happenings over at my celebrity news and views blog, but this is an exception because I’m only posting monthly over there, but that might change in the coming months:)

Here’s the info for all of you wanting to get a chance at being cast for   Reality TV Chicago Ladies


To learn more about the women who are already cast for the show, formerly called Chicago Girlfriends, go to https://wwwclara54.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/the-ladies-of-chicago-girlfriendschicagos-first-reality-television-show/

Quote for today~

When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.
—Ellen DeGeneres


An Interview With Author And Emmy Winning Filmmaker- Melissa Peltier


Melissa, thanks for visiting Clara54’s writers forum. Your body of work is so amazing. I’m just going to introduce you as an emmy-award winning bestselling writer, filmmaker, producer and author. Please share some of your fascinating career highlights with us.

I feel that (so far) I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have had a varied and interesting career, though really, I see myself as more of an average worker bee in the industry than someone special. Of course I’d like to change that – and still have quite a “bucket list” of dreams and dream projects I’d like to create – but as you can probably guess from my novel, most ‘Reality TV’ isn’t on that list!

Looking back to these 25 plus years, I’d say I’m most proud of the longform documentary film projects I did with my mentor Arnold Shapiro (model for the “Marty Maltzman” character in Reality Boulevard), including Scared Silent: Exposing and Ending Child Abuse, hosted by Oprah Winfrey, which was simulcast on three networks and was, at the time, the most-watched television documentary in history. Break the Silence the follow-up, is another ASP project of which I’m very proud. I am also still immensely proud of my mini-series for A&E on the Titanic, which won two Emmy’s in 1995. Then of course, White Irish Drinkers, the indie feature film written and directed by my husband John Gray, which I produced (with Paul Bernard and Jim Scura) in 2010. We did it for $600,000 in 17 days and it’s a true indie gem.

You referenced your writing as “cathartic” and I’m sure many writers can agree on how freeing the creative process can be. What’s it like for you ,being ‘in the zone’ so to speak?

When I was in college, I wrote a lot of fiction and poetry and was so frequently ‘in the zone’ that my favorite place to write was the busy student union…because somehow the act of shutting out all the noise around me made my focus even stronger. I went many years without writing my own fiction (with the exception of a handful of dramatic scripts, only a few of which ever went anywhere.) Writing non-fiction books and television was a different, more intellectual process. Now that I am writing my own fiction again, I am so pleased to be back in that place – ‘the zone’ as you say – that I remember. It is amazing, how the characters speak through you and lead you down paths you never expected to go. In a few places in Reality Boulevard, characters would open their mouths and teach me lessons about myself and my life that I really needed to learn. That’s what writing is all about – it comes through you, from somewhere else (I’m a Jungian at heart and the collective unconscious describes a very real place for me) and your perceptions, history, and craft are the conduit. It’s a near magical experience. Of course, some days, it’s just a slog. But you have to do the slog days to get to the magic days.

Let’s talk about this exciting new novel! Tell us about Reality Boulevard.

imagesmelissa's book!

Thank you! Reality Boulevard is set in present-day Hollywood, and its premise is a long-running, 16-year award-winning show about heroic first responders, cops, doctors, etc. called Lights and Sirens (for fun, drop in at http://www.lightsnsirensprod.com !) is unexpectedly and unceremoniously bumped off the air by an ambitious, recently-hired network executive (who would secretly like cancel all drama shows too, and turn her flagging broadcast network into all reality, all the time). Lights and Sirens producer, the quirky, loveable, Oscar-winning documentarian Marty Maltzman, and his loyal staff and crew suddenly find themselves out in the street in a world filled with Kardashians, Real Housewives and Survivors. The novel is about how they cope with this crass new Hollywood, and follows a number of different, colorful characters as they try and reconcile their dreams and idealism with what they must do to survive in a business that is (and has always been) ever-changing.

Reality Boulevard reads like a satire and many readers have called it “laugh out loud hilarious,” but the truth is, I wasn’t thinking “comedy” when I wrote it! Unfortunately much of it is more deadpan truism than satire. But I’ve been in that world a long time and truly, it satirizes itself. There are days when you feel like you’re living in an outlandish satire. Without a sense of humor about the absurd, it would be impossible to survive it!

Although your novel is fiction, I’m frankly embarrassed with some of the disturbing behaviors seen on these shows. Being a black woman and a celebrity blogger, I do call out ugly behaviors at my entertainment site. Is the stereotypical aspect of reality television a big part of executive behind the scenes decision making? Do you think viewers have become desentsitized to what they see on reality tv and how their children might also be affected?

I’ve been around the business a long time and have watched as, slowly, non-fiction/documentary television morphed into what we know today as Reality TV. It has been a gradual process, starting in the 90’s and really exploding on network with the arrival of Survivor in May of 2000. My stepdaughter and her friends were born in 1993 and watching their reaction to shows like The Hills and The Bachelor made me realize, these girls have never known a world without reality TV! I believe it has strongly colored their perceptions toward the world and not for the better. In fact, the Girl Scouts did a study on the effect of regular Reality TV viewing on 1100 girls. http://blog.girlscouts.org/2011/10/new-girl-scouts-research-exposes-impact.html A few of the results of the study showed some positive effects in the areas of leadership and ambition. But to my mind, many more of the results are quite frightening. The girls who watched more reality TV showed a markedly higher belief in the importance of physical appearance (like we women need more of that!), the idea that women have to outdo one another for a man’s attention, and that backstabbing and manipulation were viable life strategies for success – the normalization of the ‘mean girl’ stereotype.

The stereotypes perpetuated on Reality TV, when taken as a whole, are equally as disturbing. As a black woman, you have every right to be enraged! The racial stereotypes in reality TV (“Flavor of Love”; “Basketball Wives,” “Real Housewives of Atlanta.”) are appalling. The gender stereotypes are equally dangerous and I believe the Girl Scout study is the tip of the iceberg as to the subliminal damage they do to young women who are just beginning to develop their grown-up identities. An outstanding and very readable academic analysis of this can be found in Jennifer Pozner’s outstanding and impeccably researched book, Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV.” ( http://www.realitybitesbackbook.com )

Sadly, Reality TV could not exist without stereotypes. You see, it’s mostly not real. (I’m not talking about real docu-style shows or shows with reality-based formats like Hoarders, The Dog Whisperer, Intervention, Beyond Scared Straight, etc. here – there are still people who are trying to make redeeming TV. I’m talking about the average docu soap and many contest shows) The shows are conceived and greenlit in a cynical, reactive kind of way based on trying to capitalize on or outdo the success of what came before (although to be fair, all TV, film, theater, commercial art and publishing contains an element of this.) The “cast” – who are cast in much the same way a dramatic project is cast – are often wanna-be actors or even simply wanna-be celebs who don’t want to do the work to actually learn something for which to be famous. They just want to be famous – end of story. Their greatest talent is the ability to play and to improv a larger-than-life aspect of themselves that fits into a stereotypical niche. What most people don’t know is, much reality TV is actually what’s called “Soft-Scripted” – an absurd moniker if I’ve ever heard one! “Soft-Scripted” means that the situations, scenes, conflicts – even lines, from time to time (I know an agent of one of the top and most successful reality docu-soap TV ‘stars’ who dutifully passed on a full script to his client every week) are ‘written’ by someone who, for union reasons, can’t be called a ‘writer’, so he or she is called a “series editor” or “story producer,” or other bland title like that, that won’t alert the Writers Guild that something fishy is going on. It’s paint-by-numbers, lowest-common-denominator drama – if you can call it drama – but it’s very deliberately planned out. Then there are the on-scene “directors” – like writers, they are often simply called segment producers or field producers so the Directors Guild doesn’t get upset – who use any and every technique possible to create conflict and drama among the characters. This could include passing along rumors, to giving the participants alcohol (there’s a lot of that), to forcing the participants into dicey situations. There is enormous pressure on these field producers to bring back heightened spectacle for every episode. And enormous pressure on the editors and post-production producers to heighten that drama and conflict even more in the editing process.

I don’t want to come off as a crusader against reality TV because I’m not. I like being entertained by silly things and guilty pleasures, just like anyone. Television is an ever-changing business and there’s no point in railing against change. The genre itself will evolve like anything else, and maybe it’ll even die a natural death some day. In the meantime, a lot of people seem to love it.

What I want to do is shine a light on an aspect of reality TV that is unsavory and in my opinion, potentially harmful. For instance: I’d say to parents, don’t let your daughters sit and watch the Kardashians on their own. Use it as a teaching moment to discuss superficiality and materialism and let your children know that these situations are about as real as their school musical. When watching shows like Survivor, ask your kids questions about backstabbing behavior, forming factions, etc. as ways to win. What do they really win? (Look up the “where are they now” features about past winners and you’ll see how hollow their victories.) And I think discussing the concepts of fame and celebrity with your kids is important too, because many in this generation truly believe in the Andy Warhol edict – that it is their birthright to be famous. This can be dangerous, because often ‘anything goes’ in this quest (case in point: Tila Tequila). Help your kids develop other role models who actually have a true gift, a skill, an ability or a talent which they’ve honed through hard work.

In the film Iron Lady, Meryl Streep (a great role model for actors!) says, “Today, all everyone wants is to be somebody. In my day, we wanted to do something.” Teach your kids the difference between these two concepts, and reality TV will be far less harmful to them.

What is the reaction from inside the industry, now that you’ve given the world, Reality Boulevard?

My mentor, Arnold Shapiro, loved it, which is what mattered to me most. I know plenty of people who might not be happy about the portrait I paint in the book, but the novel makes a huge point of defending the worker bees in the business – the producers/field producers/story producers/whatever, the editors, the crews – because they too are victims of the market. People have to work, have to feed their families – especially in this economy – and they have to take the work that’s out there. One outcome from the book is, I’ve received lots of private communications from people around my age with years and years in the business, who are paying mortgages and putting kids through college and although the business was quite different when we all started out in the ‘80’s, they aren’t in any position to change career directions at this point in life. Some are indeed upset by and ashamed of some of the work they do, but they still have to put food on the table.

I also wanted people reading the novel to understand that the majority of people who work in the film/television industry are not rich by any toss of the coin. What outsiders call “Hollywood” is mostly peopled by a huge group of middle class workers – creative people and technical people – who work insanely long hours with incredible dedication, for fair but not excessive wages. Without union protection, most have to pay their own (and their kids’) health insurance premiums. They also work from project to project. When a show is cancelled, they have to find a new job. Reality TV has lowered wages across the board, so they’re not only creative victims, they’re financial victims as well.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

My book is only available in eBook at the moment, through Apostrophe Books http://www.apostrophebooks.com – through Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and hopefully B&N soon if Nook gets its act together! You can also visit my author website at http://www.melissajopeltier.com.

Melissa, it was such a pleasure, having you here. I can’t wait until my readers and your new fans weigh in!

It’s been a pleasure; you ask great questions!

Did you guys enjoy the interview with Melissa? What’s your take on Reality TV?

Let’s Talk Reality TV…

I know there are better things I should be doing with my downtime right about now; Catching up on mounds of emails & working on my next column as the deadline is quickly approaching….but, I’m procrastinating a bit to bring you, my wonderful readers a bit of Reality-Roundup…Ok, I’m procrastinating! You guys I am quickly becoming a “reality tv addict” even though I’m fighting hard against it, truly… BUT, I have to name a few of my favorites. Feel free to watch and send clara54 comments, ok?

Fantasia For Real! love it sooo much. Only because it goes to show people that if you’re determined to follow your passion, regardless of family woes, lack of a proverbial “education” (not that I’m saying don’t go to school kids!) you can still make it happen for yourself as Fantasia has proven…There is still a life for her after Idol…go Fantasia & so glad you got your family out of your house!

Let’s Talk About PEP! Ok, if you’re my age and slightly younger, you all know about the girl trio, (yes there was a drummer girl) of the 80s SALT & PEPA…Pepa is living life as a single woman with a beautiful daughter and her “girls” (friends) out here trying to find Mr. Right. The women get together for a roundtable discussion on what’s been happening on their trysts with the men AND let me tell you, these women are not lacking for dates… their reality could very well become yours…

The Women Of Aspen! Man ole Man, this show is so not my idea of how women living the life on the mountain should behave. There are some for real cat-fights, backbites and downright nasty behaviors coming out of these women & (guy friend ) mouths. I mean I want to see class when I’m supposedly watching women with class… Not so people because underneath all of that glitz & glamor are she-wolves waiting to scratch your eyes out over drama! The Housewives of all Reality Tv got nothing on these women, believe that!

Then there were the BAD GIRLS…
Coming soon will be Pretty Wild- This show will be about one of the young girls’ who made a name for herself as a member of the “Bling Ring”…She actually participated in robbing celebrities homes ( Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, Megan Fox) after getting info on the stars from the internet…Does crime truly pay? Apparently the girl & her sisters will attempt to become starlets in Hollywood.

What Chilli Wants_ I remember when this young lady & the group TLC burst upon the music scene wearing baggy jeans while singing “No Scrubs” and other great tunes. The devastating loss of Lisa “left eye” Lopes and the groups demise. Ronzonda “Chilli” Thomas is back with her reality show premiering in April…

For all of these reality shows, check your local listing…AND I didn’t even get to the juicy stuff!

P.S. When are they going to make a reality show about writers?

I’m A Celebrity-Get Me Out Of Here!

No people, not me, The Reality Show! Anyho, initially I wasn’t going to watch this show when the ousted Governor’s wife from my home state was selected to be a contestant & I sure as heck wasn’t about to watch an hour of the Ken & Barbie clones as in Spencer Pratt and wife Heidi, but that’s the thing about women, we can always change our minds.

Looking at this show from a purely writernistic (is that a word?) point of view, I sat down on last night Monday to watch what I have to say was one of the most compelling, funny & downright sob fested emotional piece of reality dribble I’d seen in some time. I mean between Salley the basketballer wanting to bail because he wanted to make pizza & drink wine and Janice Dickinson’s bout with her sluggish bowels& her confiding in Lou Diamond Phillips, who appears to be a pillar of graciousness, by the way, about her DNA conversation with Stallone back in the day…Sanjaya cooking 10 potatoes at a time to conserve cooking oil while getting hungar snippits of insults from his fellow castaways, well this show gave me a few bellyups. So much so I’m refusing to tune in tonight.

It’s a good thing young Spence & wife left the show for good after their 3rd time leaving because I don’t think I could take all of the fodder for gossip that my note taking became. And speaking of the Governor’s wife, Patti? felt a bit of human compassion for her. It must have been because I identified with her as a mother with daughters. She’s afraid she’ll be sentenced along with her husband in the scheme of things & where would that leave her girls? Such a bummer.   

Anyho, consider this a basic review of Reality TV’s I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! Clara54 gives Monday episode a wacky thumbs up!

DeAnna Loves Jesse…but

Ok, let’s talk reality tv folks…It seems that DeAnna, the Bachelorette, has dumped Jesse because, according to the heartbroken young man, via a tearful webcam announcement from his home… After picking her up from the airport…DeAnna tells him; She loved him, but… wasn’t in love with him… ouch! I don’t know how folks can treat love so callously like that. I don’t know about this new Mellennium generation, but back in the day when a woman, or, man got the nerve to declare their love; it’s a done deal…

There’s the loving, the shacking up…perhaps a wedding … a couple of kids and then, a bit of longing for those good ole single & free days…seriously, though, I’m just not getting this fly by night sort of playing with ones emotions that these people seemingly put their hearts, minds & time into when deciding to do Reality TV…

Is it just in their minds a fast track to fame? According to Jesse, his Bachelorette, DeAnna, over time, seemed to only, in essence, want to embrace/cuddle/show affection toward him when the cameras were rolling… I ask you, “Whats it all about, Alfie?”

I don’t know about anyone else, but when it comes to falling in love, give me the kinda love the old timers had… It’s like when your word truly meant something…anyhow, writing about Celebrities & their crazy mixed up world did give me food for post!