THR Emmy Roundtable: Randy Jackson, Gordon Ramsay and Other Reality Stars on Bad Contestants and Biggest Regrets
Tom Bergeron, Phil Keoghan, Heidi Klum and Padma Lakshmi also dish on tragedies on the set, awkward product placements, and the moments they wish had never aired.
Klum: As long as the show does not suffer because of that, it's OK.
Bergeron: It's hard. I got on a Netflix binge with Sons of Anarchy, so I'm watching every episode, and they're all drinking Miller Lite. They're these bikers, and all the labels are facing the camera. And it took me right out of the show. It was awkward product placement.
Klum: We have to integrate it into the challenges. My show, Project Runway, is probably one of the lowest-budget shows sitting here. We do everything in one small room at Parsons [design school], and it has never changed. And when we have the people come with their integrations, we try to really make them great. For example, if we have a big car company, we say what car it is, but then the designers have to make something out of that car, so they're ripping the car seats out, and they're using that as fabric. If it doesn't hurt the integrity of the show and makes for a great challenge, bring it on.
Jackson: For us, it's probably been the most seamless integration. Nobody cares if it's a Coke cup or a Ford car because it's the singing and it's synonymous with the show now. So it has actually worked out quite well, but in the beginning, we got made fun of a lot with the Coke cups.
THR: Do the rest of you pay attention to ratings?
Bergeron: We're live every week, so Tuesday morning when I go in and we're going to do a show that night live, I've got the overnights from Monday, and I'm looking at the half-hour breakdowns. We've got The Voice against us now, and we've taken a hit because of that, so I grumble about that a little bit. But I look at where the demo has bumped, what's opposite us. How are they doing? I'm a bit of a ratings whore, frankly.
Keoghan: I'm looking. I call [CBS] and say, "How'd we do?" And we've been blessed. We've been on for over 10 years, and we've sat right around 10 million for 10 years, and so I think I would look more if we were dropping radically, or I would probably be more interested if we suddenly went to 20 million and did a Simon Cowell [who famously suggested The X Factor would launch to 20 million viewers]. Oh, that's right, he didn't hit 20 million.
Jackson: Oh, it's getting cold in here. Is there a draft? (Laughs.) I don't think about ratings that much because I think when you're in your 12th season and you're still on the air, and you're getting 11, 12, 13 million people an episode, wow.
THR: But there's a target on your back with Idol.
Jackson: But there's a target on your back because there's a show [The Voice] in its fourth season that's getting that, so you go, "Wait a minute, really?" But we have a saying in the music business. Do you know how you know that you've made it? As soon as they start hating on you, you must be huge. So we get all of the hate from the critics, from the journalists, from everybody, "Idol's fallen, the show's over, it's tanking, whatever." I see it and go, "Wow, we must be really good."
THR: Does it ever get to you? The criticism?
Ramsay: It does at a stage. Then you become thick-skinned because how much shit does one want to read? So I think the longer the seasons go on, the more thick-skinned you become, and then after a while, it's just irrelevant.
Jackson: It never gets to me. I played in so many bands for nobody in the crowd, I played a million shows before I made four dollars. So guess what? Bring it on.
THR: Final question, which is a little bit lighter. What's your own reality-show guilty pleasure?
Jackson: Well, I mean if I must, then I …
THR: Is it The Voice?
Jackson: Are you kidding? I'd be the last guy to watch a singing show.
Keoghan: Have you watched it?
Jackson: I watched it once the first season, and I liked the spinning chairs. I thought that was very game-show, very Star Trek or something. But being a proud boy from Louisiana, you know what I love? Duck Dynasty, baby. I'm in, dude.
Klum: You know what my kids like to watch, and I watch it with them, is Wipeout.
Ramsay: I'm excited to see the new CBS baking show [The American Baking Competition] because it's coming from Britain. I'm not too sure about the affinity in terms of baking here [in the U.S.] because you guys cook brilliantly, but to see these marquees and these tents and British, English tea and scones in the afternoon, I can't wait for it.
Keoghan: It's huge there, right?
Ramsay: It's massive. They'd come out of their grave to watch that thing.
Bergeron: This is no lie, my favorite reality show is C-SPAN. It's not only fascinating sometimes just to watch the minutiae of government, but if you're having trouble sleeping, it is like a video roofie. You just put it on, and you have no memory of what you did for hours beforehand.
Ramsay: Deadliest Catch.
Keoghan: My daughter is 17, and I keep up through her. I'll say to her, "What's everybody talking about at school?" And for years, nobody at her school cared about Amazing Race, but in recent years [they have started watching]. … There was this funny story when my daughter met Paula Abdul on the street, and she loved Idol at the time, and she went up and asked for an autograph. Her friend said to Paula, "Oh, you know, her dad is on … " And my daughter's like, "Shh, shut up, don't talk about Dad." She didn't watch my show until she got older, and now, suddenly, I'm kind of cool.
Jackson: You know what show my wife loves? Amazing Race.
Keoghan: Is that right? I should record a little phone message to your wife. Let me eliminate her for you. When she's a pain, you say: "Hey, baby, watch this. I'm sorry to tell you, you've been eliminated. Boom."
Klum: How many times did you have to do that?
Keoghan: Every day.
Klum: "Can I get you to please say auf Wiedersehen?" I get that.
Keoghan: Or "This is Tom's voice mail. You must now choose between leave a message or not leave a message."
Lakshmi: The pilot on the American Airlines flight coming here was like, "I have to tell you, please pack your knives and go." I was like, "Yeah, I've never heard that one before."