Sunday, February 24, 2013

Reality Knocks, But Are We Answering?

HALLIE EPHRON: Are we ready for a  reality show?
The email came from "Casting Catrina" so of course I almost didn't open it. I mean, CASTING CATRINA?? (Sexy Russian woman looking for Mr. Right...)

But the subject line was irresistible:

ABC Casting Contestants for New Mystery Competition Show, "Whodunnit?

For reals (go to to see for yourself), apparently ABC is trawling for a cast for a new competition show where contestants solve mysteries. So they're looking for "amateur sleuths." Prize: $250K. Not too shabby.

As if I'd ever be on a reality competition show. I'm a terrible loser -- I can't even play Scrabble without throwing tiles. And when I win I gloat. These are behaviors I'm happy to say have been shared with relatively few and mostly people who are related to me and it's what they get for badgering me into playing.

Would you ever go on a "reality" (I use the term lightly) competition TV show? And what would the competition be about?

RHYS BOWEN: If I were younger and fitter I would have enjoyed The Amazing Race. It's one of the few reality shows I watch. That, and Project Runway, for which I am in no way qualified. But as for any other reality show--from Survivor to The Bachelorette--no way.

My daughter in the industry says they are scripted to make the best TV (and to make contestants look like mean-spirited fools).

LUCY BURDETTE: That casting call has been all the buzz on the lists I frequent--I know at least 3 mystery writers who have applied. They have to send in a little video and answer questions like: "what sets you apart from everyone else who will be applying?"

No, not for me. I cannot be clever under pressure, as you all may have noticed in the JRW edition Family Feud. And I hate to lose too:)

Which reminds me--our kids (correction, young people--they are in their twenties) were visiting us recently. We are currently most enamored of the game Bananagrams, in which you spell out linked words with 15 to 20 tiles. A, the youngest, suddenly began to win every game. Annoying!

My stepdaughter and I got the idea of giving him all the worst tiles when he was out of the room--the Q's, the Z's, the V's, the J's. We waited and waited for him to complain about his bad luck, but instead he bore down--and won again!

HALLIE: Maybe you should submit HIS name to ABC?!

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Got that email too. This is so not for me. I'm competitive in some areas (Hallie, I would LOVE to play Scrabble with you one of these days..) but being on television holds no interest for me. Anyone remember the movie Reality Bites?

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Now I feel left out! I didn't get the email! But while I wouldn't turn up my nose at the prize, actually winning it would be a little like playing the lottery. And I can't think of many things I'd less rather do than be on a game show. On TV.

Although I loved JRWs Family Feud.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Yeah, I work for NBC so I'm out. Happily. (Because, really, I'd hate to be on it, and then lose. Yeesh.)  I do know people who have gotten a second call for it. And I wish them all the luck! And it could be wonderful publicity.

Is there ANY reality show I'd be willing to be on? Ah. I'd say no.  Still I'd love to know how they really work.

But be warned--we WILL rock the next Bouchercon with another game! (Right?)
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I'm game, Hank!(pun intended)

I confess to being pretty snobby about a lot of reality shows. Would I do REAL HOUSEWIVES OF MAINE? No. I doubt America is clamoring to see a group of flannel- and polarplus-clad women discussing the state of their woodpiles and what they scored at Mardens Salvage Warehouse last week.

I'd jump at the chance to participate in one of those ones on The Home channel, or whatever it is, where designers or architects come to your house and redo it. Sign me up! I'll even act dysfunctional and whacky, if required. Also? I confess to a secret love of SAY YES TO THE DRESS. I watch it with my 12-year-old daughter. Don't judge.

HALLIE: The Reds are ready for reality, but is reality ready for us?


  1. Reality television? So not my thing . . . wouldn't want to be on, don't watch any of those shows. But I'd definitely have to make an exception if any of the Reds were going to be on a reality show . . . maybe this mystery thing has merit but it's pretty hard to imagine any of the Reds behaving in the mean-spirited way all those contestants seem to behave . . . .

  2. I just do not get the whole reality TV thing, but like Joan - if any of the Reds were going to do their own reality show that would be a whole 'nother story! This is the first I've heard of the Mystery Competition Show and now I'm dying to hear who from the mystery community may have applied and can't wait to see if anyone I know actually ends up being on the show. If so - then I will, for sure, watch.

  3. Love that picture of you all at the top!

  4. And by the way! Debs?! WOW - Honey,you have done it again!!!!!! THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS is divine.

  5. A friend of mine thinks a reality show featuring writers would be a hoot, but the drama factor would be low right now.

  6. How in the world did you do that picture???? You're a genius!

  7. yes, didn't Hallie do a smashing job with the photo? For our show, we could start by arguing about who she gave the best dress--or the best legs!

  8. What amazed me was how each of us sort of matched the attitude of each pose. Rhys in her hat with her jacket flung over her shoulder... Glamorous Hank... And can I rock that fringe or what ...

  9. I would watch Real Housewives of Maine. It beats watching those tarts from Atlanta, or North Jersey, or wherever. My cousins could be in it. Woodpiles! Yes! The blueberry harvest!

  10. I don't get the reality thing either. When I watch those shows, I literally feel my brain cells dying.

    Having said that, I did apply for this reality show :) I couldn't pass by the opportunity to play real-life game of Clue. However, while I have visions of The Last of Sheila, the end result would likely be more along the lines of The Real Housewives play Whodunnit.

  11. I think it could be an novel (no pun intended) attempt to get people interested in reading more as I am sure all television networks really want people to turn off their shows and read more. Who wouldn’t read a mystery author that could solve crimes on television? The Murder She Wrote books are immensely popular and that show hasn’t been on the air for almost two decades. But an author that lost?

    The most cynical part of me deep inside just sees this as the latest way the highest of high TV executives have sunk in order to make more money and undercut other forms of entertainment. Why read their books when you can just watch them solve fake crimes in less than an hour, intercut with ever longer ads for products that pay top dollar for the viewer’s attention.

    It’s shameless really. In a few years, I predict shows such as Are Your Hands Steadier than a Brain Surgeon’s; Rocket Science, Not Just for NASA Anymore; and Dupe Your Spouse, How Long Can You Cheat Before Getting Caught, to infiltrate our airwaves.

    It’s really sad that I am so jaded by television. Maybe I just need more coffee this morning.

  12. Aimee, there is already a "novelist" who solves crimes on television: Richard Castle. There is no end of fascination for mysteries and crime solving, thank goodness for mystery authors.

    I barely watch any TV at all any more, but if there were some of my favorite authors on a show like this I would definitely tune in.

    Love the picture! Well done.

  13. Jeffery Marka: You'd be perfect! Fingers crossed for you. Then you can tell us all what it was like.

  14. Is Castle the show where every once in a while there were real authors (Connolly, Patterson...?) gathered around, delivering wooden dialogue?

    Having said that, SIGN ME UP!

  15. Yes, exactly, Hallie. Wooden dialogue, indeed! LOL

  16. Go Jeffrey! keep us posted.

    I should have said that TOPPED CHEF takes place during a reality cooking show in Key West. Luckily my friend Ang Pompano's daughter has worked on several reality TV shows and was able to give me some tips.

    We'll see how well I pulled it off when May comes:)

  17. I was having an uber busy morning and was going to bypass today's blog when I saw that photo of you ladies. OMG! Brilliant! I have to admit I'm not much of a reality show fan - I watched a few cooking ones (I love cooking, big time) but that's the extent of it. Honestly, if they all disappeared tomorrow, I'd probably never notice.

    So what photo are you going to surprise us with next time?

  18. I would COMPLETELY watch the Real HOusewives of Maine!

    (And can you imagine how boring a writer show would be? Just people writhing around trying to think, then making tea.)

    HAllie, you are a GENIUS! HOw did you get Roberta's hand to work?

  19. A number of years ago I turned down an invitation to audition for SNL, several times, the same year I turned down recruiters from medical schools. I have no idea why any of them were interested in me. If I would turn my nose up at them, can you see me on The biggest Loser?

  20. Reine, SNL?? REALLY???

    Comedy terrifies me. And standup would have me catatonic.

    Though last night I started to watch SNL and it was so dumb I turned it off.

  21. Hi Hallie,

    Yes, really. I know how SNL connected with me but have no idea why they thought I might be a desirable cast member. Still waiting for our new HD satellite hookup (today - yea), so I didn't get to shut it off for stupidity reasons (damn, I love being judgmental) last night. I've had a few of those nights with them over the years.


  22. First recruiting effort:
    SNL Person: But you are so funny.
    Me: Thank you very much. But no.
    SNL Person: Really?
    Me: Really and truly. I am doing exactly what I want, and it took me years to get here.

    Second recruiting effort:
    SNL Person: Are you sure?
    Me: Yes, but thank you.
    SNL Person: You don't want to be on TV?
    Me: No. Thank you, though.
    SNL Person: Are you sure. Just a try-out?
    Me: No. But thank you. Really nice of you to think of me.
    SNL Person: What are you afraid of?
    Me: I might be offered a contract.

  23. I just have to say that if Lee Lofland doesn't apply and get chosen, there is no justice in the world.

  24. I would totally watch Real Housewives of Maine. I think it would be hilarious.

    My friend Deborah Halber has an article in the Boston Globe today about real amateur sleuth who devote all their spare time to matching John Doe bodies to missing persons, but alas the reality show that came from it might be kind of boring--hours of sitting in front of a computer monitor.

    As for me, I am an admitted devote of So You Think You Can Dance and Top Chef. Gave up Project Runaway after two dismal Lifetime seasons. And that's it.

  25. Dear Lord, Hallie, but that picture is amazing. You even matched up our hair. I'm using the picture of me for my next author photo!

    I realized I left out another reality show I like: Pawn Stars. (Most of my watching is done via Netflix, so if it's not there, I don't see it.)

    I realized the shows I've enjoyed are basically documentaries with a plot (and presumably a little buffing.) Here's how the largest pawn shop in Las Vegas works, here's how a big bridal retailer works. The shows I can't bring myself to watch seem to trade on invasion of privacy and dysfunctional behavior. If I want to see that, I'll watch BREAKING BAD.

  26. You guys are such a hoot! Especially the pic - Hallie, good job!


  27. Hallie, I want that dress!!! You are amazing. Maybe we should keep the attire in mind for the next JR outing:-)

    I do watching singing shows, I'll admit. Yes, even American Idol, although I'm not sure I can stand Nicki Minaj even for one season.... I just love it when you see that spark of talent. And I occasionally watching cooking shows. But that's pretty much it for reality unless it's a documentary about something interesting.

    No Honey Boo Boo for me.

    Oh, and thanks, Kaye, you sweetie, you! xx

  28. Jeffrey, if you get picked for the program, I might just get a TV so I can watch!

    I would never EVER EVER EVER agree to be on a TV pogram. EVER. A couple of nights ago someone from our local ABC affiliate stopped me in a supermarket parking lot to ask me a question for their news program. I told her I was in a hurry and raced away from her. (Later on, I went to their website and discovered that they were talking to people about a peculiar thing that a local person did.)

    Reine, in my secret fantasy life I am a writer for SNL. (Some people fantasize about being rock stars or athletes. Me, I fantasize about writing politically incorrect skits. My more conservative relatives and friends do not know this. Don't tell!) Since my TV doesn't work, I haven't watched SNL in quite a long time. Sorry to hear that it has gone down hill. I used to worry that my laughter would wake up the neighbors!

  29. Hi DebRo... I won't tell your relatives, but I'm guessing they are already thinking you are the family liberal. Oh, and I don't think SNL has gone downhill, just they've had some some boring baddies lately.

  30. I would love to go on The Amazing Race. I'm pretty sure I would kick ass. It's the only "reality" show I have any interest in going on. No way I'd make it on Survivor. I'd be crying in a fetal position before the first day was over!

    I love Julia's idea of Real Housewives of Maine. I don't watch any of the real housewives shows, but that one would be funny! I do love to watch re-runs of the original "real" housewife--Roseanne. :)

  31. LOVE that photo, Hallie! It's perfect! You are such a disgusting multi-talent! Doesn't it ever bother you showing up all the rest of us? ;-)

    Don't have TV reception, so the only TV I watch is Downton Abbey and Sherlock online. (Not a "class" choice--basically, I don't have time.) But I would love to see Julia's Real Housewives of Maine! If I did watch TV, I wouldn't watch reality shows, and that would be kind of a "class" choice.

    I like the idea of the mystery-writer-crime-solving TV series, but I suspect they would script it to make the writers look like idiots and meanies.

    And Debs, je suis desolee! THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS is waiting for me at my favorite bookstore, but I'm snowed in with another blizzard arriving beginning tonight and going through Tuesday night, and this one's supposed to drop 20" of snow (the last one just gave us 13"). So I can't get my long-desired book! *throws childish temper tantrum*

  32. Wow! What a terrific photo! You ladies look FABULOUS! I must say, I never realized writing could keep you looking so young and in such great shape!!!

  33. Hallie, I think you could have a side business doing author photos. Could you put my head on Angelina Jolie's body?

    I confess I like to watch Pawn Stars. It's fun to see the kinds of things people bring in to sell.

  34. Reine, I'm glad to hear that SNL is alive and kicking, and just facing what all of us do at times - the occasional bad day at work.

    NOOOOO!! Not another blizzard for your region!! I just got home and was listening to the national news in the car. I heard about a blizzard heading for Missouri but I wasn't paying attention to just what part of the state.
    Mother Nature sure is no lady this year! Stay safe. At least you know you have a good book wating for you when you can get out again.

    How about a "Real librarians" program? What if there were a dozen librarians on the program but only three or four copies of books available by certain popular authors? Suppose the librarians had to get out there and find copies? To what lengths would a librarian go to make sure that the home town library had as many books as possible? Librarians who provide as many books as possible for the people are some of my heroes.

  35. DebRo, that's brilliant! The Real Librarians with a competition of who can gather the most, best books for their patrons. Our own Lesa Holstine would have to be on it, of course, and so many more of the great librarians who grace the mystery scene.

  36. I do not watch reality shows, BUT...if you ladies were to do a reality show, I'd be plonked in front of the TV watching it !!!

    Great article Hallie, love the dresses, you all look Glam !!