Monday, June 05, 2006


The first reality TV convention was held in Nashville June 3 & 4 and after attending the first day's events, the biggest surprise was that there were very few people interested in paying to meet their favorite reality stars! There were about 80 reality stars scheduled to attend but it looked like there were less than 100 people who paid to meet the reality celebrities.

The stars were seated at tables to meet fans and sell trinkets. Some came with just photographs to autograph, while others had entire tables filled with t-shirts and other items for sale. At least two showed up selling their spreads in Playboy--what were they thinking? This was a family event.

Or was it? Johnny Fairplay from Survivor was foul-mouthed and woman-hungry as he prowled the convention floor wearing dark sunglasses and carrying a beer bottle. He truly is as creepy as his TV personna.

The two questions that need to be asked:

First, are reality stars as hungry for fame as they appear? The answer is overwhelmingly yes. They are (for the most part) good, decent, average people who now have a taste of fame and are addicted to it. So they love to meet the crowds to get another fix. Some are obvious, such as Howie from Big Brother who was constantly promoting himself as the greatest guy in reality TV history. Others seem a bit ashamed, such as the geeks from Beauty and the Geek or the guys from Average Joe who know that the joke is really on them. But they were all there, looking for that next big break.

Second, who are the people who would attend this type of convention? Well, they were very average Americans, mostly in the young adult demographic group and overwhelmingly female. Granted, it's tough to make a judgment based on the small crowds at this convention, but there were many women who seemed to have the same love of reality shows that they used to have of soap operas. These women had memorized every character and circumstance to the point that minute trivia was being discussed years after the show had aired. There were some men there as well--I counted about a dozen single middle-aged males who quietly walked around. They were the TV addicts who enjoyed seeing these TV characters in the flesh.

The convention was a first attempt--the sessions were directionless and weak, but the effort should be praised. Maybe next time don't have it in Nashville and instead locate it where more big names congregate.

There will be more details on this as I put together the information for my upcoming book TV'S GREATEST REALITY SHOWS.


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