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10 juicy highlights from Penn’s “Reality TV” Alumni panel

UPenn and Survivor and Project Runway and Vh1 and reality TV

A few weeks ago at the start of alumni weekend, Penn alumni working in reality TV from both sides of the camera came back to Penn to discuss what is “real” and what it takes to make it in the business.

The “Getting Real: From Campus to Camera” panel was moderated by Katherine Sender, Associate Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication. Panelists included:

  • Mark Cronin (ENG ’86), writer and producer of “celebreality” shows such as “The Surreal Life” and “Flavor of Love”
  • Kristin Haskin Simms (C’93), contestant on the eighth season of “Project Runway”
  • Charlie Herschel (C’01), contestant on the seventeenth season of “Survivor”
  • Greg Goldman (C’96), producer of reality television shows such as “Don’t Forget the Lyrics”, “Secret Millionaire” and “Shaq’s Big Challenge”

Overall the contestants on the panel discussed the application process, the submission videos they created, the psych tests they had to take, how closely the edited version was to real life, and recognition in the real world.

The real juice on the panel however came from the producers (especially Mark Cronin) including what they look for in a contestant (and their casting tape) and the true “manipulating” roles they serve as producers on the show.

After the jump, watch the video and check out 10 juicy highlights I’ve boiled down from the panel that you’ll be interested in for sure!

In the video above, highlights include:

1) Producer’s beginnings: How Mark’s engineering and Mask and Wig majors works well in his position as “an entertainment engineer” (minute 5:44) and how Greg left medical school to pursue his passion (great story!) (minute 32:19)

2) What endeavor in Kristin’s Penn career opened her eyes to Fashion (minute 9:55)

3) Unlike the other candidates, Charlie did go to law school and the reason why he was probably picked for “Survivor” (minute 12:38)

4) How Mark came up with the “Flavor of Love” show and Flavor Flav’s priceless reaction to Mark when he explained the show to him (minute 23)

5) Find out how Mark handles/manipulates contestants who work against producers (this is great!) (minute 30)

6) Find out what “Project Runway” contestants couldn’t do when the cameras weren’t rolling (minute 38)

7) Find out which demographics reality show producers are targeting these days (minute 46:40)

8) Find out what attracts audiences to reality tv from the producers mouths (minute 53:45)

9) Find out how reality shows get a cut of the businesses that are featured on reality tv. More specifically, find out what percentage Mark took from the restaurant featured in his upcoming “Famous Food” new reality show which premieres on VH1 on July 9 (1:02:00)

10) Most interesting, find out how Mark defines his role as producer, how honest he’s really being with contestants and how “it all comes out in the wash” (minute 1:09:00)

More Penn alumni on Reality TV HERE

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