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By June Deery (auth.)

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Additional info for Consuming Reality: The Commercialization of Factual Entertainment

Sample text

41 In fact, the turning of the self into a brand became the main theme of a spin-off series Bethenny Ever After (Bravo 2010) in which former Apprentice and Real Housewives participant Bethenny Frankel revealed her quite successful attempts to parley her RTV fame into a sustainable commercial brand. This kind of determined self-promotion certainly stretches the premise that the Real Housewives series is just about the social life of a group of friends. At least one cast member thinks it is overdone: Kelly Killoren Bensimon of The Real Housewives of New York complains, “This is something that really annoys me about being on the show.

Made Possible By: Sponsorship One of the earliest models for monetizing TV programming is sponsorship, a technique television inherited from early radio, where sponsoring programs was a common practice from the 1930s to the 1950s (Barnouw 1978). 22 In subsequent decades, if there was sponsorship of television content it was mostly of live events, like sports, and by companies who were otherwise legally banned or restricted from direct advertising on television, like tobacco or alcohol. In other words, sponsorship was a backdoor strategy born of necessity and lack of other options.

As producers become more enamored of the income generated by product integration, the specter of commercial forces killing off the goose (a genuine advice show) that was designed to lay the golden egg (advertising dollars) has become a real possibility. On Queer Eye, clumsily motivated pauses in action mean that some program content came to resemble a 10-second spot announcement, with the presenter angling the product toward the camera whilst dutifully extolling its merits: a distortion that was humorously anticipated in Peter Weir’s The Truman Show (1998), where subjects in a reality soap paused to highlight the merits of products in similarly staged close-ups.

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