The real reality
The Baby Borrowers
As part of NBC’s current tyke-centric series, Held loaned her 21-month-old son Luke to teen couple Sasha and Jordan for three days, and was later cursed out by Sasha on camera after she criticized the couple’s parenting techniques.
We had told casting that Luke liked to throw stuff into the sink and turn the water on; he did that with the casting director’s wallet in the first interview and I knew we had it. Of course I had to question why I would do this — every parent would question it. But I got pregnant when I was 20, and I liked the idea of letting teens know it’s not like babysitting. I study sociology, so I knew three days wasn’t going to hurt him, and Luke’s doctor had to sign off saying it was going to be safe. Yeah, he missed us and was wondering where his parents were, but he never showed signs that he was going to have psychological problems. When I got him back he was having a blast at first, but then he had some issues. He would cry whenever we left; however, that only lasted a few days. I know a lot of people with kids say they would never do this. Those people have their opinions. But I limit day-care time; I’m very hands-on. All I can say is I’m a good parent. —As told to Jessica Shaw
The Joe Schmo Show
Matt Kennedy Gould
In 2003, Gould thought he’d signed up for Spike’s Big Brother-esque reality show — but in fact he was surrounded by actors and mocked for thinking the whole thing was real.
If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t do the show at all. Honestly, the show really made me feel dumb. And I never felt like that before. I did it because I needed the money. I lived with my parents. I had just dropped out of law school. I was a regular pot smoker. I didn’t want to work. And after the show I got $100,000 and signed a development deal with Spike. I went to California, and I was supposed to do all this stuff, and I just didn’t do it. I was so embarrassed about the whole premise of the show that I never wanted people to think, ”Oh, here’s this guy who didn’t even know the show was about him. It’s a big joke, and now he’s some reality star trying to be a TV host.” So I holed up in an apartment in Santa Monica, and spent a lot of the money on marijuana and alcohol. I lived there with a girl who broke up with me. The next day I flushed a half ounce of pot down the toilet, packed my car, came home to Pittsburgh, and I got help. I haven’t done drugs or alcohol for four years. Now I’m married with a new baby and a stepson. I work at a logistics company. Were things different, I would much rather be working in the entertainment business. I just went about it the wrong way. —As told to Kate Ward
Boy Meets Boy
Dan was one of the secret straight men pretending to be gay and vying for James Getzlaff’s affections on Bravo’s 2003 male-only twist on The Bachelor.
I’d been working as an actor in small independent films. They pitched it to me as an acting job on a reality show: ”Look, you’re gonna be acting like a gay guy, it’s improv.” Of course, it would be fun going to Palm Springs, and, yeah, I’d get paid. But I reached a point when I was like, Dude, this isn’t cool. People started getting emotional. Then you see the difficulty James had with his decisions, and here am I toying with him. It wasn’t very nice. So I told the producers, and they put me up against the two guys James seemed to like most. I was relieved to not be toying with some guy and not have to worry about some strange comment by me down the road. But it wasn’t tough to act gay. You just pretend that you feel about guys the way you feel about girls. You learn as you go and you watch how the gay men were acting and behaving and so forth, and you roll with the vibe of the situation. It’s a deep Method acting experience. —As told to Ari Karpel
Married by America
Billie Jeanne Houle
Houle appeared on Fox’s 2003 reality show that allowed viewers to arrange a marriage for two couples. Houle was chosen for the finals, only to be dumped at the altar.
When they told me it wasn’t really a dating show and it was about arranged marriage, I was like, If it works out and this is the person I’m meant to be with, then great. If not, who cares? I’ll just tell him to get lost. And when we got to the show it just happened to be that we clicked. You got gourmet chefs, you got Jacuzzis, you got all the alcohol you could want. I really fell for the whole experience. I was in shock [when he backed out]. I think he felt like, Oh my God — this girl would’ve actually said yes. I would’ve tried to make it work. They told us we were gonna be famous, and I had a hell of a run for a while. I got a call from Playboy magazine, and I got a call from Maxim. I was on hold for a Playboy cover, but they did the Women of Starbucks instead. After the show I moved to L.A. I went on some really good auditions, but it wasn’t for me. I came back to New York, where I met my husband. —As told to Jennifer Armstrong
Temptation Island 2
Genevieve Deittrick and Tony Schmitt
The duo visited Temptation Island 2, a 2001 Fox show that tried to coax couples into cheating on their significant others by setting them up on dates with single hotties.
Tony: We just decided, Let’s figure out now if anybody’s going to be able to tempt us. Why not just make sure before we get into this bond of marriage?
Genevieve: The producers really didn’t like me too much. I went to college for criminal justice, forensics, and ballistics, and you learn about interrogation methods where they deprive you of sleep, deprive you of food to wear you down, and after the first few days I realized that’s what they were doing. We were hungry and it would be hours before we ate, and people’s emotions would get high. It looks like we willingly left, but there was no cheating going on, and that’s not entertaining to watch, so the producers said, ”You’re going. How do you want to go?” I figured it was only fair, since I’m the one who put our engagement on hold to go on the show, that I ask him to marry me.
Tony: For putting me through the show, I gave her a few seconds’ pause.
Genevieve: That was the first time I was nervous. I could have strangled him. —As told to Kate Ward
Flavor of Love
Amanda ”Ice” Habrowski
Ice was eliminated from VH1’s dating show Flavor of Love 3 after it became clear she was only there to boost her radio career.
Who the hell could fall in love with Flavor Flav? He went to kiss me, and I was very hesitant. I did not want that to happen at all. But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I wouldn’t have had sex with him, but I would have probably made out with him. We lived the good life out there. That’s why I cried at the end. Everyone’s like, ”You didn’t even like him!” I’m like, ”I’m leaving a pretty mansion in California! I’m not going to be pampered anymore!” That’s why I was crying, man. —As told to Kate Ward
The construction worker pretended to be worth $50 million while courting 20 women on Fox’s dating show.
They needed a guy that was in construction but didn’t have kids, hadn’t been in jail, wasn’t on drugs. And basically I fit the bill. They said they would pay me $50,000, and I said, ”Where do I sign?” I wasn’t looking for the love of my life. But I picked the best girl of the 20 they gave me to choose from. We got back to America and I’ve never seen the girl since, except for the reunion show. I think Fox was a little irritated that we didn’t pursue more so they could get more longevity out of it, kind of like Trista and Ryan. In the two years after the show, I went into a deep depression. I had $500,000 in the bank and no reason to wake up every morning. One night, a friend said, ”You can go back to construction — just own your own business.” So that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. I felt like I’d been paroled. It absolutely destroyed [my dating life]. I can’t tell you how many numbers I get where the girl doesn’t want to date, she just wants to have me call so she can tell her friends, ”Oh, that guy Evan Marriott — because he did that to those girls — I blew him off when he called for a date.” That’s okay. It be what it be. —As told to Dan Snierson
My Super Sweet 16
On a 2007 episode of MTV’s My Super Sweet 16, the Miami ”princess” almost ruined her pricey quinceañera by throwing a tantrum when her mom gifted her with a $67,000 Lexus a day earlier than Audrey had hoped.
I applied as a joke because I never actually thought I’d get picked. I think I just wanted to be on TV for the fun of it. A lot of people tried to talk me out of it. It took a while to convince my mom to do it, and my dad didn’t like the idea because he was scared of how it was all going to turn out. My sister was like, ”Don’t do it — you’re getting yourself into something you don’t want to get into.” And she was right. I was really thinking ”I’m not going to be portrayed as a brat, I’m not like that.” But you don’t even remember that cameras are around, and then you throw a fit and they catch it. When I saw the show, I freaked. They showed a lot of the negative stuff. I didn’t even care about the whole thing with the car: I was just overwhelmed, and I hate surprises. I felt the need to apologize to a few people, like my friend Samantha. I called her fat, and that was really rude of me. After it aired, my classmates who aren’t my friends would say mean things to me, but I learned to ignore everything. I’m more mature now; people meet me and say, You’re not the girl we thought you were on the show. —As told to Lindsay Soll
Age of Love
Last year the 48-year-old appeared on NBC’s dating show that pitted ”kittens versus cougars” in a battle for the affections of tennis player Mark Philippoussis. Braff, the oldest contestant, made it to the final two, but lost to 25-year-old Amanda Salinas.
They said the guy was younger — but they said the guy was going to be late 30s, maybe 40. He was 30. They said he was looking to date. But when they showed his video to us, he said he was looking for someone to get married to and start a family. It’s not likely I’m going to get pregnant and have children. But I just thought, Well, I’m gonna go with it. There were things that happened [that were less than flattering]. You fill out your forms and tell a little about your personality. It said, ”What’s your favorite drink?” And I said, ”I can get a little carried away with tequila.” Funny how tequila was always there. I thought there had to be [a twist on the show]. I was not as shocked as some of the other women were when the twentysomethings were introduced. I couldn’t get myself in competitive mode with Amanda. It was a long time ago, but I remember when I was in my 20s and I felt like I was in love head over heels. After I taped the show, I met someone. He’s 13 years younger than me. And we’re still together. —As told to Jennifer Armstrong
The pageant winner, who became known for telling fellow contestants to ”deal with it!,” joined CBS’ 2007 series that saw 40 kids take over a ghost town, ostensibly fending for themselves.
I heard about Kid Nation through pageants. I didn’t hear about the ghost town at first — I just heard about going away for 40 days with 40 kids without your parents. But I was surprised that everybody ended up making so much controversy that we were by ourselves, because that’s not true! There were more camera crew and producers than there were kids. There was only one time I was upset with the producers — when we were fixing to kill the chickens and they were telling me to say ”Ugly chickens deserve to die” and all that kind of stuff. I didn’t realize they’d actually make it out on TV to sound that bad. But when I did see it, I was like, ”Whoa! That’s not how that went.” I wasn’t okay with how they made me look. I didn’t act like that the whole time. Sometimes I did, but I was 10! When the show was on TV, my parents were like, ”Taylor, did you really do that?” And I would actually tell them how it went, if the producers told me to say that. Sometimes my friends would help me when people would come up to me and make fun of me and say ”Deal with it” or ”Ugly chickens deserve to die.” It’s like my friends kind of knew that some of it wasn’t real. Even though I was the bad person, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I’d love to go back. It was fun.
Reality Host Speaks!
The Moment of Truth and Temptation Island emcee Mark Walberg comes clean about hosting some of reality TV’s tawdriest shows.
Entertainment Weekly: Aside from the cold, hard cash, why host a show like The Moment of Truth or Temptation Island?
Mark Wahlberg: I think you pretty much encapsulated the entire thought process. But with a show as rough as mine, I like to think that in someone else’s hands, it could be even more destructive. So while I am completely whoring myself out for cash, I’m kind and sensitive to those who have chosen to ruin their lives on national television.
Which show triggers more shame in you?
Wahlberg: We were helping America one couple at a time on Temptation Island, so I feel like there was a higher calling. With Moment of Truth, I just look at it like this: As a microwave heats bacon quickly, we bring people to where they’re headed much faster. In both cases, I’m providing a service.
Is there a show that you’ve turned down and said, ”No! I draw the line at that”?
Wahlberg: The Littlest Groom [Fox’s little-person dating show]. They said, ”Here’s the concept, and we’re going to handle it in a very sensitive and responsible way,” and I said, ”I don’t believe that you are. I think you’re going to make fun of little people, and while I’ll secretly watch, I don’t feel comfortable hosting it.” But you know what? They actually did handle it pretty sensitively, so maybe I blew it. —Dan Snierson