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Reality TV: THR's 50 Most Powerful List

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    Tom Forman
    Tom Forman
    CEO, RelativityREAL

    Forman won two Emmys for his main claim to reality fame, ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, but he was also an awards hog in his past life as a documentary producer: His 2001 CBS doc 9/11 won an Emmy, a Peabody, a WGA and an Edward R. Murrow Award.

    PHOTOS: THR's 2012 Reality Power List

    At Relativity, he says, “some of the things we learned making docs make us better reality producers. The No. 1 rule is, ‘Get the hell outta the way.’ Our shows are ‘doc-ier.’ ” The military family reunions on Lifetime hit Coming Home are legit, not staged. A producer without Forman’s documentary background might not have grabbed the chance to make a reality show from Catfish, the 2010 Sundance hit about filmmaker Nev Schulman’s Facebook courtship of a woman who was not who she claimed. “I took one look and said, ‘This is doc!’ ” he says. “Indie cinema and reality are two great tastes that rarely go together, except this time.”

    On MTV’s new Catfish, deceived lover Schulman advises others in quest of online love. “It’s produced for the MTV audience, it moves a million miles an hour, but ultimately it’s just good storytelling,” says Forman. “When that door opens and the couple meet, nobody knows what’s going to happen next.”

    COMPLETE LIST: THR's 2012 Reality Power List

    Forman, 39, says his 3-year-old company will sign more new shows in 2012 than the 18 it did last year, racking up 300 hours of programming. It has 67 projects in production, with 21 series on 15 networks, including GSN’s The American Bible Challenge, where Jeff Foxworthy tests contestants’ Good Book smarts.

    “A risky but genius call,” says Forman, prophesying success. “I’d rather do that than the 17th big music elimination show. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

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