Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Reality Bites

Fox Entertainment prez Gail Berman has finally received the memo that me and many others in the industry read last year. She now believes that reality television has reached the point of "oversaturation." Those are strong words from the programmer who grenlit Who’s Your Daddy, where an adopted daughter was awarded $100,000 if she could pick out her birth father out of a group of eight strangers. Thankfully, that show has been cancelled.

More than half of Fox's fall schedule was reality-based. Many viewers TiVo’d away from The Next Great Champ and Richard Branson's Quest for the Best. Other exciting new programming such as The Littlest Groom were pronounced DOA even before the November book.

“Oversaturation in the marketplace of any form is going to have audience rejection," Berman told the Daily News. "It happened in drama. It happened in comedy. And it happened in unscripted. The best generally survive and others get just swept away."

Hopefully, the nets and cable providers will navigate to more scripted fare. One reason is purely selfish: I’m WGA, so I want to make sure that there’s enough work for me and other producers and writers. Second, scripted drama and comedy is a stronger revenue stream for the ‘nets, ie. Syndication, re-run potential, cross-promotion, etc. Third, it’s just more exciting. I’m over watching normal people behave badly.