The Hollywood Reporter Unveils 2013 Reality Heat List

9:00 AM 4/3/2013

by THR Staff

From "The Voice" to "Duck Dynasty," THR ranks 25 unscripted series, dealmakers, and characters driving real money, ratings and the pop culture conversation.

"The Voice"

This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Forget televised competitions.

The real showdown is among the stars and execs scrambling to make their unscripted series stand out in an increasingly competitive landscape. For its 2013 Reality Heat List, The Hollywood Reporter ranks the 25 shows, creators, execs and characters that are winning the race.

PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List: Sean Lowe, Kim Kardashian and Others Who Sizzle

Entries were selected based on ratings, pop-culture and social-media impact, buzziness of talent and producers, greenlight and spinoff power and overall lasting imprint on the reality business between March 2012 and March 2013.

Among those who made the cut? The "Virgin Bachelor" Sean Lowe, "Kover Kween" Kim Kardashian, "Cable Masterminds" Nancy Dubuc and Eileen O’Neill, "Happy Housewife" Lisa Vanderpump and A&E ratings phenom Duck Dynasty. Says A+E Television Networks executive vp programming David McKillop of the show's eccentric Louisiana clan, "The Robertsons are real-life characters, and we were able to turn them into a reality sitcom."

PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump

Edited by Alison Brower and Stacey Wilson

Profiles written by Seth Abramovitch, Gary Baum, Leslie Bruce, Rebecca Ford, Marisa Guthrie, Shirley Halperin, Kimberly Nordyke, Michael O’Connell, Lacey Rose, Laurie Sandell, Sophie Schillaci and Stacey Wilson

  • 'The Voice'

    NBC's Biggest Hit

    From left: Shakira, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Usher and host Carson Daly
    Mark Seliger/NBC

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Mark Burnett is in a great mood. It's March 26, the morning after the premiere of season four of The Voice, and the prolific producer is beaming about the stellar ratings.

    "It's a really good show, so it's really gratifying when a lot of work goes in and it worked," he says.

    Burnett and NBC reality chief Paul Telegdy took a monumental risk with the fourth season of NBC's biggest hit by playing musical chairs with the coaches' bench, replacing Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green with Shakira and Usher. Switching up the judges' table has been a sign of troubled times and a precursor to weaker ratings on other reality shows (ahem, American Idol).

    "The playbook says don't change a thing. You've got the cast that's working, why switch it up?" notes Telegdy, who adds that Aguilera and Green would be welcome to return. "I think that's true if it's one season a year, but when we went twice per year, we felt the audience and the contestants would fancy a bit of a change."

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    But the question remained whether the new -- and arguably lesser-known, especially in the case of Shakira -- faces would be able to bring in as many viewers as season three's crew.

    The answer has been a resounding yes. The two-hour March 25 premiere featuring Usher, Shakira, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton averaged a 4.8 rating in the prized 18-to-49 demo and 13.6 million viewers overall, beating the fall season-three premiere by about 13 percent.

    Burnett, who has produced, as he puts it, "more than 1,200 hours of American TV," credits the show's success to the positivity it promotes -- unlike most TV singing competitions.

    "On other shows, some judge leaves the show, and it's all acrimony and mudslinging," says Burnett. "With us, everyone is congratulating everyone else."

    The main "other show" always has been Fox's Idol, which has been atop the ratings leader board since its inception in 2002. But Idol has been singing the blues this year, with its season 12 launch dropping 19 percent from the previous season's premiere and the most recent episode (March 28) logging the lowest demo score in the show's 11-year history. This precipitous drop in Idol's ratings allowed The Voice (with its season bow) to surpass Idol for the week -- a first.

    The Fox show still has the upper hand as a star factory. "We don't currently measure the success of a show like The Voice by the record sales of the artists that come from it, but it's very important for us to produce a star," says Telegdy. "We're very aware of that." He insists he doesn't dwell on comparing his show to Idol, however. "That seems to be an obsession of theirs but not of ours," he says. "We're making a very different show."


  • 'Duck Dynasty'

    A&E's "Reality Phenomenon"

    "Duck Dynasty's" Willie Robertson
    Art Streiber/A&E

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    A series can rightfully bill itself a "reality phenomenon" when its renewal is held up by the cast's bid for bigger money.

    At press time, this was A&E's happy problem as the network saw its top-rated series, Duck Dynasty -- chronicling the antics of Louisiana's Robertson family, which struck it rich whittling duck calls from local cedar -- pull in 8.6 million viewers for its February return, making it the biggest act on cable outside of AMC's The Walking Dead.

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    "We saw a diamond in the rough," says A+E Television Networks executive vp programming David McKillop. "The Robertsons are real-life characters, and we were able to turn them into a reality sitcom." The salary negotiations are no joke: McKillop won't comment, but sources say the Duck dudes want more than $200,000 an episode.


  • Ryan Seacrest

    Résumé Builder

    Ryan Seacrest
    David Livingston/Getty Images

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.


    Entertainment industry domination


    Television and Radio Host

    ● American Idol (Fox), 2-year, $30 million deal

    ● On Air With Ryan Seacrest, 3-year, $60 million Clear Channel deal

    ● Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest (ABC)

    ● Today (NBC), special correspondent via NBCUniversal deal

    ● Live From the Red Carpet (E!), host and executive producer

    ● NBC Sports' Olympics coverage (NBC), contributor

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    ● Keeping Up With the Kardashians and spinoffsMarried to JonasThe Wanted LifeE! News editor-at-large (E!)

    ● Shahs of Sunset (Bravo)

    ● How I Rock It (Esquire)


    ● AXS TV cable channel, investor with CAA and AEG

    ● Civic Entertainment Group marketing services company, acquisition via Seacrest Global Group

    ● Pinterest, via Seacrest Global Group

    ● Restaurants: Bouchon (Beverly Hills), BOA (Santa Monica), Katana (West Hollywood), Sushi Roku (Pasadena)


    ● Coca-Cola, Ford, Procter & Gamble


    ● University of Georgia (dropout), major: journalism


  • Nancy Dubuc & Eileen O’Neill

    Cable Masterminds

    Nancy Dubuc, left, and Eileen O'Neill

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Long before setting an A&E ratings record with the season premiere of Duck Dynasty, the Robertson family actually was featured on multiple, though little-watched, series on The Outdoor Channel. So the clan's current dominance -- the show averages 8.3 million viewers, half of them in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 demographic -- is a testament to Dubuc, A+E Television Networks' president of entertainment and media, and her team (notably executive vp David McKillop), who applied creative marketing and clever story development to turn Dynasty into a juggernaut. Dubuc's portfolio features most of the top 10 reality shows on TV, including Dynasty, History's Pawn Stars (4.8 million viewers), A&E's Storage Wars and History's Swamp People and American Pickers (all average 4.3 million viewers).

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    Meanwhile, over at Discovery (the buff big brother to sassy little sibling TLC, home of cultural lightning rods Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Breaking Amish), group president O'Neill and her team -- including executive vps of development and programming Nancy Daniels and Dolores Gavin -- have built a male-dominated destination with five of the top 10 unscripted shows in all of cable among men 25 to 54: Gold RushMoonshinersAmish MafiaBering Sea Gold and Fast N' Loud. "Whether cheering scientists finding a giant squid, chuckling at a new Honey Boo Boo expression or watching the Amish on either network," says O'Neill, "I have the best job and team in the business."


  • Simon Cowell, Howard Stern, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine

    The $10 Million+ Music Mentor Club

    From left: Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine
    FOX; NBC

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    The specialized skill of judging talent is not one every megastar can manage, but for those who succeed, the pay is handsome. Just ask Simon Cowell, who pockets north of $35 million a year as judge and co-creator of The X Factor, or radio jock Howard Stern, who brings in a reported $15 million salary for America's Got Talent. It's a good gig for guys who, unlike the other club members, don't have music talent to fall back on.

    Mariah Carey, American Idol

    The diva co-wrote/co-produced dozens of songs from a catalog of 60-plus singles.

    Album sales: 61.5 million

    Most recent hit song: Her 2011 collaboration with Justin Bieber on “All I Want for Christmas Is You (SuperFestive!)”

    Grammys: 5

    Ratings impact: Since Carey joined Idol in season 12, the Fox show has seen an 18 percent drop in ratings.

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    Christina Aguilera, The Voice

    The former Mickey Mouser-turned-vocal powerhouse sat pretty for three seasons.

    Album sales: 20 million

    Most recent hit song: Pitbull’s “Feel This Moment,” featuring her, hit No. 8 in March on Billboard’s Hot 100.

    Grammys: 4

    Ratings impact: Aguilera helped viewership jump in 2010, from 12.3 million in season one to 15.6 million in season two.

    Adam Levine, The Voice

    He’s the full-time frontman for rock-pop band Maroon 5 and an actor/heartthrob.

    Album sales: 9.5 million

    Most recent hit song: The platinum-selling “Daylight,” released in November, is No. 12 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

    Grammys: 3

    Ratings impact: One of two original coaches, he’s kept a loyal legion of viewers (even while touring!) and hosted SNL.


  • Kim Kardashian

    Kover Kween

    Kim Kardashian on the cover of Us Weekly.
    US Weekly

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    With her love-life drama and growing baby bump, E! star Kardashian has graced 18 magazine covers in the past year (Us Weekly, 4; In Touch, 9; Life & Style, 5).

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    In a dwindling market, she still drives strong sales (averaging more than 500,000 copies sold when she appears). Although People hasn't featured her since purchasing the photo rights to her 2011 wedding, expect a fierce battle for her baby pics.


  • Sean Lowe

    The Virgin Bachelor

    Sean Lowe
    Emily Shur

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    On a busy night in a West Hollywood restaurant, Sean Lowe, the recent star of The Bachelor, and his fiancee, Catherine Giudici, pause before digging into their dinners -- to pray.

    It's an unexpected move for a man who spent weeks wooing, kissing and frolicking on tropical beaches with multiple women vying for his heart.

    But Lowe was not a typical Bachelor star. The 29-year-old Texas business owner with the Southern charm and goofy sense of humor was chosen for season 17 after appearing on Emily Maynard's season of The Bachelorette. "His abs didn't hurt," says executive producer Mike Fleiss. "But he won out because of his level of sincerity."

    Underneath those washboard abs -- which helped earn him the label "The Shirtless Bachelor" -- is a devout Christian who chose to become celibate after college. And while Lowe has never used the term "born-again virgin" to describe himself, that's what the tabloids called him when they broke the story.

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    "Frankly, it's no one's business, and it's just a personal matter for me," he says of his no-sex life. But the news Lowe didn't want the world to know might have been exactly what skyrocketed the ABC series to ratings success. The Feb. 18 Bachelor episode not only hit a season high of 9.26 million viewers, it also marked the Bachelor series' highest nonfinale ratings in nearly two years.

    "I think viewers responded to it as something different," says Fleiss. "We've never seen that before. Something new is always good for us."

    The ratings ramp-up continued, with the March 11 finale raking in 10.3 million viewers and garnering a 3.5 rating with adults 18-to-49, a 14 percent spike from the previous season's finale. On average, Lowe's season nabbed 9.3 million viewers per episode, a 6.9 percent increase from season 16.

    Things haven't always been so sunny for the series. "The show was basically canceled," says Fleiss of the franchise's ratings low point around 2008. But he made a significant change by recycling contestants from the previous seasons in order to cash in on the established fan base. Fleiss credits that strategy, along with the hiring of Martin Hilton as executive producer and show­runner, for bringing the series back to life.

    "We approach it in a pure way without a lot of gimmicks and bullshit that some of the other copycat shows have tried to incorporate," he adds.

    Lowe, who has parlayed his newfound fame into a gig on ABC's Dancing With the Stars, says he believes that people can find real love on the show despite the fact that only three couples from a total of 25 Bachelor/Bachelorette seasons have gone on to wed. "I think some of the fame might get to their heads, and I don't know how sincere they were going into it," Lowe says of the Bachelor stars that came before him. "All I can speak on is me, and I think it worked for me."


  • Honey Boo Boo

    Honey Boo Boo and Her Colorful Clan

    Honey Boo Boo

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    TLC's Here Comes Honey Boo Boo has lured 2.4 million viewers into a unique subculture with its own vernacular and belief system. The answers to your burning Boo Boo questions:

    What is “forklift foot”?

    June “Mama” Shannon suffered this injury years ago when a forklift ran over her left foot. The matriarch kept her deformity carefully hidden until a midseason family trip to the water park forced her to make an unforgettable -- and regrettable -- reveal.

    Who is Elvis?

    “He’s Santa Claus’ helper,” explains Honey Boo Boo herself, 7-year-old Alana Thompson. Enough said.

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    What are the Redneck Games?

    “It’s all about Southern pride, similar to the Olympics, but with a lot of missing teeth and a lot of butt crack showing,” Shannon explains of the annual Georgia event, which includes mud pit belly flops and bobbing for raw pigs’ feet.

    Is sexuality fixed or fluid?

    “Ain’t nothing wrong with being gay,” Thompson declared to her Uncle Poodle during pageant prep. “Everybody’s a little gay,” including her male potbelly pig, she later decided, thereupon naming him Glitzy.

    Does passing gas 12 to 15 times a day help you lose weight?

    According to Shannon, yes. Yes, it does.


  • Thom Beers

    CEO, FremantleMedia North America

    Thom Beers

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    At this time last year, Thom Beers found himself uninspired, if not altogether bored. He had sold a majority stake in Original Productions -- the shop responsible for such Beers-produced hits as Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers and Storage Wars -- to London-based FremantleMedia in early 2009 for a reported $50 million, and his contract was up at year's end. He had turned down a series of high-profile job offers and was toying with the idea of taking his wife, his 15-year-old son, Max, and a tutor on a ship to sail around the world for half a year. Then Cecile Frot-Coutaz came calling. She would be elevated to CEO of FremantleMedia, and she had handpicked Beers to replace her as CEO of the company's North American division. In summer 2012, Beers, 61 -- who had dabbled as an actor, playwright and Turner Broadcasting executive before becoming one of the most successful producers in the unscripted business during the past 15 years -- assumed the role and now oversees 175 Fremantle employees.

    To read THR's interview with Thom Beers, click here.



  • Gordon Ramsay

    Kitchen Boss

    Gordon Ramsay
    Michael Lavine/FOX

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Even in a crowded food space on broadcast TV -- not to mention cable's culinary free-for-all -- with MasterChefHell's KitchenKitchen Nightmares and Hotel Hellsuperchef Gordon Ramsay shows no signs of cooling down. Here's what's cooking:

    4 Fox shows that air in 200-plus countries

    3 shows airing on BBC America

    5 series in production with his company, One Potato Two Potato

    2,000-plus hours of programming sold in 2012

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    27 restaurants worldwide

    4 U.S. restaurant launches in 2012

    11 Michelin stars

    24 books published

    $38M in revenue, making him the world's top-earning chef


  • 'Survivor' and 'Amazing Race'

    Family-Friendly Franchises

    Monty Brinton/CBS

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Twelve years after it premiered on CBS, Survivor still attracts more than 10 million viewers, and the network's 11-year-old Emmy-hogging phenom The Amazing Race regularly hits the same milestone.

    And while its ratings are losing ground to NBC competitor The Voice, Fox's 11-year-old Idol still is a key performer for the network (this season has hit highs of 15 million fans). ABC, meanwhile, is celebrating the huge resurgence of its Bachelor franchise after nearly 10 million tuned in to watch celibate single guy Sean Lowe find love.

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    So what can the nets learn from their stalwarts? 

    Survivor producer Mark Burnett -- whose recent CBS experiment The Job, which pitted dream-job aspirants against one another, was canceled after two episodes -- says their longevity proves there's no substitute for reality's most enduring and lucrative formats.

    "These are family-friendly shows," he explains. "There is a much bigger audience for this programming than for the opposite."


  • Deirdre and Scott Gurney

    The Gurneys’ $40 Million Hit Machine

    Deirdre and Scott Gurney

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Deirdre and Scott Gurney founded Gurney Productions in 2005 under the most modest of auspices: They were just dating, working out of the Los Angeles condo they shared, and they'd filmed one pilot for ESPN. Upward of 40 TV series and one monster hit (Duck Dynasty) later, the pair sold a controlling stake in their operation to ITV for $40 million in 2012.

    "It was extremely important to us that it was a partnership, not a purchase," says Scott, who, along with his wife, courted offers from several companies in the wake of Dynasty's record-breaking performance on A&E. "We still have our hand in every project, and I still direct every pilot." The Gurneys, also known for Auction HuntersAmerican Digger and Haunted Collector, since have become a serious boon to ITV's stateside operation, ITV Studios America. 

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    "It's been a relentless pursuit in the U.S. to grow the business organically and through acquisitions over the past five years," says Paul Buccieri, president & CEO ITV Studios America and managing director ITV Studios International. "The Gurneys have real drive, creativity and passion ... and they continue to show the same sense of commitment since joining the family."

    The payday and boosted resources might cause another firm to balloon, but the Gurneys have been keen to keep things on cruise control, so to speak, since the big cash infusion. They maintain a handsome staff of 300, which has been relatively steady for the past two years. "We have had to add new dry erase boards for everything in development," adds Scott, who says he never wants to just copy a successful formula. "It's important that we don't become a factory."


  • Lisa Vanderpump

    The Happy Housewife

    Lisa Vanderpump
    Christopher Patey

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    In a sunny ballroom with scuffed floors in the heart of Hollywood, Lisa Vanderpump is preparing for another Dancing With the Stars rehearsal as her 29-year-old partner, Gleb Savchenko, demonstrates a complicated move. "Remember when you slid through my legs?" he asks, sweeping his arms between his thighs.

    "I always remember when I slide through your legs," Vanderpump, 52, says with a wink, demonstrating the cheeky wit that has made the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills castmember the franchise's newest breakout star -- and its first to score a coveted DWTS spot, not to mention her own Bravo spinoffVanderpump Rules, which follows the antics of six staffers at her popular West Hollywood bar and restaurant, Sur (Vanderpump and her husband of 30 years, Ken Todd, also own Hollywood hotspot Villa Blanca and are planning to open a third restaurant). The January debut of Rules, which Vanderpump also co-executive produces, brought in 1.9 million viewers, the biggest premiere for Bravo since the summer 2010 launch of Bethenny Getting Married?

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump

    "It is unusual to have a star who provides great entertainment value but also has business savvy," says Alex Baskin, executive vp at Evolution Media, which produces Rules and two of the shows in the half-billion-dollar Housewives franchise. "Lisa has unerring instincts and is completely committed to what is best for the show." She also knows what's best for Lisa Vanderpump: "It has to be my stamp, my style. I do everything myself," says the U.K. native, who earned a reported $250,000 for season three of Housewives and has the chance at a six-figure increase for season four. "I didn't have a publicist until six months ago. I told her she was going to hate me because I don't go to red-carpet events, and I don't tweet much" -- though she has nearly 548,000 followers and her Pomeranian, Giggy, has 66,000 of his own. "I'm not compliant," insists Vanderpump. "That's why the audience trusts me."


  • 'Dancing With the Stars'

    The Judges Who Make Us Feel Like Dancing

    From left: Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli
    ABC/Adam Taylor

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    While every other performance series judges' panel has seen swaps, shake-ups and mis-hirings (see No. 15), ABC's Dancing With the Stars has maintained the same trio of experts for a record 16 seasons.

    The staying power of this triumvirate -- Carrie Ann Inaba, 45, Len Goodman, 68, and Bruno Tonioli, 57 -- is so functional and lacking in drama, it's almost a mystery why they're still so much fun to watch.

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    DWTS host Tom Bergeron decodes their chemistry: "They're a perfectly modulated trio. You've got the flamboyance of Bruno Tonioli, the solid taskmastery of Len Goodman and the passion of Carrie Ann Inaba. It's an embarrassment of riches being able to play off of them. My joy of working in live television has always been that there's no second take, there's no net. All of us have gone at it but in a playful, affectionate way. Usually with Len, it's about him getting a little too crusty or persnickety. With Bruno, it's about how sometimes he can't take a cue and just rambles on and on. And with Carrie Ann, it's, 'When is she going to cry?' I don't relish the thought of any of them doing a Simon Cowell and going off to do another show. I hope we can keep it going for a long time."


  • Britney Spears

    Down. Out. Still in Demand

    From left: L.A. Reid, Demi Lovato and Simon Cowell await a new castmate; Inset: Britney Spears
    FOX; Getty Images

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Reality's version of failing upward (paging Idol reject-turned-Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson) has a new standard bearer: Britney Spears.

    In 2012, the 31-year-old pop star, 14 years removed from her first hit, 1998's "… Baby One More Time," landed a plush $15 million gig to take a seat at The X Factor, where she judged pop-star hopefuls alongside competition kingpin Simon Cowell, Epic Records head L.A. Reid and singer Demi Lovato.

    Her impact? She was instantly dubbed a casting misfire, and the Fox series dropped in ratings by about 20 percent. (Her banal go-to performance assessment, "Amazing," likely didn't help matters.)

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    But what came next could only happen within the forgiving confines of reality TV. In January, Spears announced she wasn't returning to X Factor yet saw her single,'s "Scream & Shout," race up the Billboard Hot 100. She also was reportedly fielding offers for a run in Las Vegas a la Celine Dion -- a deal that could be worth more than $100 million a year.

    The lesson? Failing on reality TV can be a lucrative audition for the next act. "Because of her ups and downs, people want her to succeed," says Larry Klein, executive producer of the American Music Awards, of Spears' career boomerang. "Just when you think it might be over for her, she pulls a rabbit out of her hat."


  • Nev Schulman

    "Catfish’s" Creator

    Nev Schulman

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    You know you've impacted the common vernacular when your reality-show title becomes its own verb. For Nev Schulman, 28, that moment came in January when Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o revealed he'd been lured into an online relationship with a woman who was not the person she purported to be -- nor even female.

    Te'o had been "catfished," as Schulman had been a few years earlier when a 40-ish housewife named Angela, claiming to be a budding singer named Megan, turned into his obsession -- or, as he describes it, his "addiction to the soap opera."

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    Schulman's experience became the premise for his Sundance-lauded documentary and hit MTV docuseries, whose inaugural season consistently drew more than 2 million viewers. "It's topical, timely and the ultimate mystery that keeps you glued until the last minute," says Tom Forman, CEO of RelativityREAL, which acquired Catfish the movie and saw its TV potential. "We live in a weird time. … These technologies have fundamentally changed human relationships."

    And what do all these love-starved people have in common? "The deceivers are struggling with issues and choose to create an online identity as an escape," says Schulman. "On the show, I'm basically giving people the opportunity to talk and think about themselves and maybe get a little bit of perspective about the situation, much like a therapist," he says. "Usually, they're happy to come clean in the end."


  • Anthony Bourdain

    International Man of Mystery

    Anthony Bourdain in Travel Channel’s "The Layover."

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Twelve years after publishing his gossipy kitchen tell-all Kitchen ConfidentialBourdain now boasts an impressive cache of cool, globe-trotting food-reality series: No Reservations and The Layover still are hot performers for Travel Channel, and on April 14 he will debut Parts Unknown for CNN, which finds him still feasting his way around the world, venturing into remote areas such as war-torn Libya and the Congo. He's also set to further expand his brand as exec producer of The Getaway for the Esquire Network, in which celebrities such as Joel McHale and Aziz Ansari travel the globe, beginning April 23.

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump

    While his recent foray into mainstream reality fare with ABC's cooking competition, The Taste, was a misfire (the January debut was met with critical snipes and soft ratings), Bourdain has no regrets. "I didn't expect my hardcore audience to be particularly happy about it, but that didn't stop me from wanting to do it -- or enjoying it," he says. "I'm hoping to do it again."

    Bourdain admits to being dismissive of most other gastro-themed reality series (especially those featuring anti-Bourdain types like Guy Fieri) despite their popularity in the unscripted universe: "Other than the occasional glimpse, I tend to give up on a lot of them -- quickly."


  • Abby Lee Miller

    Villain of the Year

    "Dance Moms's" Abby Lee Miller

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    "Save your tears for your pillow!" dance instructor Miller shouted at then-7-year-old Kendall Vertes during the first season of Lifetime's Dance Moms. The show, which follows five mothers whose daughters train at Miller's Pittsburgh dance studio, returned in January for its third season with more than 2.8 million viewers -- who can't get enough of the choreographer's controversial (and effective!) motivational sound bite

    "You were a day late and a dollar short."

    "If your mother is out of control, you don't [get to] dance."

    "Let's just see if she can keep that mouth shut."

    "I'm really dismissing her from class so she can go find her brain."

    "I didn't humiliate her. She humiliated herself."

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    "Chloe is suspended. Her behavior was deplorable. She was an embarrassment."

    "Those lips she keeps getting pumped up so she can kiss my butt with them."

    "She is the laziest slug of a kid that I've ever worked with in my life."

    "They need to lose. They need to get knocked down a peg or two."

    "Get out. I don't want to see you."


  • Giuliana Rancic

    Reality Role Model

    Giuliana Rancic
    Olivia Malone

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    From her breast cancer battle to coping with infertility to the birth of her son, Duke, via surrogate, Rancic has emerged as reality's most likable -- and relatable -- everywoman. But sharing her most private struggles wasn't her first instinct. "It took some soul searching," says Rancic, sitting in her brightly lighted office at E!'s headquarters in Los Angeles. "But Bill said, 'You could reach so many young women like you who think they are invincible.' That changed my mind."

    Her risks have paid off: Giuliana and Bill, the series starring Rancic and her husband, is Style's longest-running and highest-rated program -- season five averaged 508,000 total viewers, up 15 percent from the previous cycle. Rancic, 37, also landed on the New York Times best-seller list with two books, one of which, I Do, Now What?, ranks among Amazon's top 100 self-help titles. But it's when young women say Rancic inspired them to get mammograms -- which, in some cases, saved their lives -- that her connection with fans is most meaningful. Says Style Media president Salaam Coleman Smith, "She's been very resilient in overcoming adversity with grace, humor and style."

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    Even during their struggles, the Rancics -- who also are executive producers -- have never once asked that a shot or scene removed from their show. "If anything, there were things that made me cringe and are really hard to watch, especially when we were going through all the infertility and breast cancer challenges," she says. "But I know we're doing something really good." She also is proud of the fact that the show remains "clean-cut and wholesome" yet still draws viewers. "We made a conscious decision when we first started the show to use it for good and not for evil," agrees Bill. "There aren't a lot of shows that showcase a good family life."

    Coming up, viewers will get to see even more of the Rancics' son. The baby not only shares screen time with his mother but sometimes accompanies her to work: Rancic has a playpen in her office and says E! has been extremely accommodating. "I'm not entirely sure how she juggles it all, but she does," E! president Suzanne Kolb says. "She is a unique, wonderful person who is achieving every dream she has put in front of herself."

    Born in an impoverished neighborhood in Naples, Italy, Rancic moved to the U.S. with her family when she was little (she taught herself English by watching TV). She started her career in Washington before joining E! News in 2002 as a correspondent. She has anchored the show -- which reaches 8.5 million viewers a week -- for eight years, six of which were alongside Ryan Seacrest (earlier in her career, Rancic auditioned to be his "female sidekick" for another show, but the two didn't meet until later). Seacrest says he thinks of her like a sister. "She has tremendous work ethic and is extremely professional, which I appreciate," he adds. "I also greatly respect her for the way she keeps a grounded perspective on life and her priorities in check."

    Since joining E!, Rancic's become a major presence on the network: She also co-hosts Fashion Police, which posted its most-watched month in March (averaging 807,000 total viewers) since moving to an hourlong format a year ago, and says most celebrities she encounters are able to laugh at themselves after being mocked on the show. (Rancic herself recently landed on US Weekly's own "Fashion Police" pages, and she says she promptly went out and bought herself a copy of the magazine.) In addition to juggling her E! and Style duties, Rancic and husband Bill are co-hosting NBC's new dating show Ready for Love, which is exec produced by Eva Longoria (it debuts April 9). But the multihyphenate, who also oversees FabFitFun, a website/daily newsletter for women, insists she hasn't gotten where she is today by playing office politics. Case in point: Even after 11 years at E!, she still isn't quite sure where the president's office is. "I strongly believe that if you do the best work you can, the right people will notice," she says.

    The Rancics also own a restaurant, RPM Italian, in Chicago -- Michelle Obama recently dined there -- and say their dream job is to host a daytime show in the Windy City (though Giuliana is quick to point out that her contract with E! keeps her in L.A. through 2015). "Family is my priority," she says. "I truly believe you can find a way to do it all."


  • 'The Shahs of Sunset'

    Bravo's Take on the Immigrant Experience

    From left: Lilly Ghalichi, Reza Farahan and Mercedes “MJ” Javid
    Joe Pugliese

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Humility and an understated tone are not what you might expect from Reza Farahan. After all, on Bravo's Shahs of Sunset, he's not only the group's resident social director but also its glam ringleader and usually the first castmember to throw out the B-word with the wave of a finger. But even Farahan is flabbergasted by the runaway success of the show (2.9 million viewers tuned in during Shahs' season-two high, and in the key adults 18-to-49 demo, the series was up 49 percent, season-over-season, to 1.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research, putting it on par with Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and the Real Housewives franchise).

    "I never thought it would go as far as it has," says the 39-year-old real estate agent. The series' ultimate appeal: that the Persian-American experience is like that of any immigrant culture. "Very family-oriented and career-minded," is how Farahan characterizes the experience of his cast and other similar groups. "They love each other, and they love this country."

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    And fans love the drama. Indeed, there's never a dull moment in the lives of these six affluent Beverly Hills friends, among them Golnesa "GGGharachedaghi, Asa Soltan Rahmati, Mike Shouhed, Mercedes "MJJavid and newcomer Lilly Ghalichi, who's still grappling with the self-censorship required in the reality-TV environment. "Private moments are exposed and your every word is criticized, so I need to be a little more careful and more PC," she says. "But I don't want to be fake."

    To the contrary, the Shahs' very real conflicts and issues -- Farahan's homosexuality, Gharachedaghi's anger-management problem, cultural and generational divides -- point to a deeper struggle rooted in past prejudice. "I grew up [in the U.S.] during the hostage crisis, and from that point on, the only thing I ever heard from people about my culture was negative and related to fanaticism or terrorism," explains Farahan. "It took the strength of a Ryan Seacrest and a network like Bravo to put six Middle Easterners on television in a post 9/11 world. … I have people on Twitter who are Latin, European, you name it, and want to be Persian. That's insane to me." The downside? Says Javid, "Not being able to go to the grocery store with your hair up in a bun unless you're willing to have people tweet about it."

    The positive audience response to the series prompted Bravo to sign Shahs for a third season. But the castmembers' over-the-top antics clearly are part of the appeal -- and Farahan, for one, hopes to push some of the outrageous behavior into the background next season. "Putting six opinionated, hotheaded Persians in one location and bringing in alcohol unfortunately sometimes ends very dramatically," he says. "I wouldn't mind seeing less of that."


  • 'Amish: Out of Order,' 'Breaking Amish' and 'Amish Mafia'

    The Amish Invasion

    TLC's "Breaking Amish"

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    It's only fitting for the extremes-loving reality audience that in the year Jersey Shore said goodbye, the modest, modernity-shunning Amish became the genre's hot subculture: NatGeo has Amish: Out of Order, Breaking Amish has been a hit on TLC (it has averaged more than 3 million viewers), and Discovery boasts the edgy Amish Mafia

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    Says NatGeo's Michael Cascio, "People find their lifestyle aspirational -- or simply fascinating."


  • 'Drag Race' and 'Life With LaToya'

    World of Wonder's Loud, Proud Programming

    RuPaul, left, and LaToya Jackson

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    "We're the crack dealers of reality," says Fenton Bailey, co-founder of World of Wonder, the factory that churns out addictive fare like RuPaul's competition show Drag Race, whose season-five premiere was the highest-rated in Logo history. Up next: Life With LaToya, debuting April 13 on OWN, peeks inside the world of Michael Jackson's eccentric little sister. "We're drawn to people who fly their freak colors high and proud," adds Bailey. "And that's not just gay. That's everybody!" RuPaul let THR in on the secrets of Drag Race's success.

    The Hollywood Reporter: Who's the audience for your show? 

    RuPaul: People who dance to the beat of a different drummer.

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    THR: Do you embrace social media? 

    RuPaulOh absolutely, I've live-tweeted every episode so far this season. When you take the red pill as opposed to the blue pill, it can be very lonely. And when you find your tribe, you want to connect with them.

    THRYou recently signed with CAA. Why? 

    RuPaulI had been with William Morris, and what ended up happening there was, I got the job, and they did the paperwork. And after a while I was like, "What the f--- is this?"

    THR: Do you ever walk into CAA in full drag? 

    RuPaulThat costs extra. Drag is just what I do for coins, for coinage in the mortgage. It stopped being hilarity, or she-larity, once I got famous.

    To read more on THR's interview with RuPaul, click here.



  • 'Real Husbands of Hollywood' and 'Burning Love'

    The Scripted Reality Revolution

    E!'s "Burning Love"

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    If anyone has a beef with The Real Husbands of Hollywood's inclusion on this list of unscripted hits, BET network chairman and CEO Debra Lee has a prepared comeback.

    "We can actually admit our show is scripted, unlike other reality shows that pretend to be real!" laughs Lee of BET's recently renewed hit, which delivered some of the cabler's biggest ratings ever for an original series: The Kevin Hart-created spoof of Bravo's Real Housewives franchise lured about 6 million viewers for its first-season finale March 21.

    The first quarter of 2013 also saw E!'s scripted reality series Burning Love ­-- a Bachelor-format show born as a digital series on Yahoo in 2012 -- pull in 7 million total viewers for the first five episodes. Hart and Love creators Erica Oyama and her husband, Ken Marino, see their respective series as loving tributes to the wildly popular franchises they parody. "We specifically hired reality-TV editors to cut the show in a convincing way," says Marino, whose vast network of comedy friends -- including Michael Ian Black, Malin Akerman and Paul Rudd -- all have appeared on Love.

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    "People who've been contestants on the Bachelor tell us they love the show." Hart, who conceived Husbands as a BET Awards bit in 2011, drew inspiration from Larry David's heavily improv'd Curb Your Enthusiasm -- he wanted his satire about the loafing husbands behind famous Hollywood wives (Mariah Carey's hubby, Nick Cannon, among them) to feel ridiculous without becoming mean-spirited.

    "I had to get guys [in the cast] who weren't afraid of making fun of themselves," says Hart. And just where is the line between fact and fiction? "There's one thing we aren't faking," says Cannon. "We all really do hate Kevin."


  • 'Long Island Medium'

    The Supernatural

    "Long Island Medium's" star Theresa Caputo
    Donald Kravitz/Getty Images

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    With an array of networks providing spooky programming targeting both cynics and believers, it's a great time to be a ghost -- or communicate with one. Among the top-performing supernatural series is TLC's Long Island Medium, which averaged 2.9 million viewers last season. "I think it gives hope to people," says star Theresa Caputo, "knowing that there is more to life than just the physical world." Travel Channel also is cashing in on the dead: Programs including The Dead FilesGhost Adventures and Most Terrifying Places in America bank on viewers' desire to experience a brush with the other realm -- or to hate-watch for new material to feed their skepticism.

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    "[Supernatural shows] do very well for us," says Travel Channel president Laureen Ong. "There are a lot of people who will travel to find places that are known to be haunted -- that audience, they are very engaged." But it's Syfy, naturally, that has the otherworldly market cornered. The network's top performer, Ghost Hunters, averaged 2.1 million viewers in its eighth season, and it has eight other supernatural shows currently on the air (all averaging 1 million to 2 million viewers) plus two more on the way: Deep South Paranormal debuts April 10, and Notorious Hauntings comes later this year. Can unscripted zombies be lurching far behind?


  • 'Moonshiners' and 'Weed Country'

    Unlawful Activity

    "Weed Country"
    Discovery Channel

    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Reality TV and criminality have had a long and fruitful partnership -- from the ride-along action of Cops to the behind-bars drama of Locked Up -- but now a subgenre is flourishing dedicated to illegal artisanal pursuits.

    Shows like Discovery's Moonshiners, centered on a group of white-lightning brewers in Appalachia and the Alcoholic Beverage Control officers on their tails, and Weed Country, a six-part series (also on Discovery) that's set on the California-Oregon border in the marijuana-growing nirvana known as the Emerald Triangle, have seen steady audience growth, with Moonshiners' season-two finale drawing a series-best 3.87 million viewers.

    PHOTOS: THR's Reality Heat List Photos: 'The Bachelor,' 'Shahs of Sunset,' Lisa Vanderpump 

    "We're trying to tell a balanced story looking at both sides of a very complicated issue," says Eli Holzman, president of Weed Country studio All3Media America. Of course, producing a series that straddles both sides of the law can be a dicey proposition. "We didn't want to suddenly find ourselves in the middle of a show where someone's call sheet resulted in a bust," says Holzman. "It's a dangerous show to shoot."


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