CW's 'Famous in 12' EP Explains How One Family Aims to Get Famous in 12 Weeks (Q&A)
The CW -- with the help of TMZ -- is looking to make one family famous.
The network's unscripted series Famous in 12, which debuts at 8 p.m. Tuesday, takes an anonymous family from Beaumont, Calif., and transports them to Los Angeles, where they will seem family while being filmed 24/7 for 12 consecutive weeks. TMZ and Harvey Levin will help guide the family as they use their talents to help in their quest, along with social media. The series also aims to reveal to viewers exactly how "the fame machine operates."
Ahead of the show's debut, David Garfinkle (Naked and Afraid) -- who executive produces with Jay Renfroe (Naked and Afraid) and Levin -- talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the new "social experiment."
How did the idea for this show come about?
It really is kind of a statement on celebrity and thinking about how America, and really the world, views celebrity and how different it is from 20-25 years ago. We thought that would be an interesting social experiment -- to take an unknown family, who no one knows and who has dreamed about being famous and has the "it" factor, and just pluck them into the city and shine a light on them to see what happens.
How early did TMZ and Harvey Levin get involved in the series?
I sat down and had dinner with Harvey, and he really liked the idea. They're obviously on the forefront of all this and know it better than anybody. So he was and continues to be an incredible partner with incredible ideas. They're the drivers of this thing; it's really exciting.
How did you find this particular family?
Harvey did a casting call on TMZ. We had over 10,000 families apply, and we chose the Artiagas. We really believe in this family because they are so interesting. There's going to be a lot of bumps and bruises along the way, but I think that is part of the fun of watching this. How they react to certain situations is going to be interesting. Our goal is not to make them famous; they are going to have to make themselves famous. We'll give them the tools, and TMZ is going to help them, but the public will decide.
What makes the family so interesting?
There are lots of layers to this family dynamic. The mother is kind of like a momager, but she loves and cares for the kids more than anything but also really wants this fame. The stepfather to the three oldest daughters is something like eight years older than the oldest daughter. And then you have these three sisters who all have different talents: One is a single mom, one is a virgin and the other one has a very real, strong sense of self. They are all really smart and educated and pretty. The family dynamic is a very loving one, but they have issues like any family and are willing to expose that.
How will the whole process work?
The idea is they come to this town and they have to try to find their way. TMZ is going to help them meet certain people or get to a certain place, but they have to create their own celebrity. Harvey will be there to help them but also reprimand them when they're not doing it right.
How will the viewers play a role in this?
I think what makes the show so different, whether the family becomes famous or not will be determined by the public, whether they are interested in them or not. Viewers can follow the family on TMZ, TMZ.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, all social media, and Harvey and his team have a kind of scientific metrics to figure out if in fact the family is becoming interesting to the public. It will be easy to track because of all the social media outlets.
Social experiments are becoming somewhat of a buzzy subgenre of the reality realm. Why is that?
Human nature is fascinating. This is a family who has given up everything in their whole life and moved their family from their home to do this. These types of shows are all about human names -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- and it's fascinating to watch.