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'The Bachelor,' 'Dancing with the Stars' EPs: " Reality TV is too much of the same

April 26, 2012 |  5:26 pm

Mike Fleiss, Brent Montgomery, Kris Jenner, host and moderator Tom Bergeron, Bertram van Munster, Conrad Green, and Eli Holzman

Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner is seated on a stage inside the Beverly Hilton earnestly talking about how she finds it strange when camera crews — which have been part of her family's life since 2007 — aren't around.

She needn't worry any time soon, of course. Those cameras will be around for three more years now that E! network, which airs "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and its spinoffs, has inked a deal with the family that would keep them on the air. "I'm just hoping for 23 more seasons," Jenner quipped. These days, though, Jenner's facetious statement might not be entirely out of the realm of possibility. But is that the problem — when shows or a concept become stale?

Jenner, along with other reality TV heavyweights — Mike Fleiss ("The Bachelor," "The Bachlorette"), Conrad Green ("Dancing with the Stars"), Brent Montgomery ("Pawn Stars"), Bertram van Munster ("The Amazing Race"), Eli Holzman ("Undercover Boss") — took part Thursday in the Hollywood Radio & Telvision Society's "The Unscripted Hitmakers" panel to discuss the genre wieldy imprint on television — but they agreed the reality TV needs some newness to keep viewers interested.

From dancing celebrities and plucky singers to globetrotting chefs and people with odd obsessions — somewhere out in the world, there's a camera following someone. But there's a lot of the same, Conrad said. How many shows can there be about celebrity couples or catty housewives? Innovation is needed more than ever before — particulary in the competition arena, he added.  For every "American Idol," there's a "Dancing with the Stars" or "The Voice" to nip at its heels, taking viewers away with it.

"In competition reality, there's so many [shows] and they require so much audience attention in one week" with the multi-hour episodes and subsequent elimination shows, he said.

It's concerning for the people who make them, he added, because the audience has a level of expectation." They've come to rely on these big-event series in being special," he said. "And they become less special with the crowded space."

Fleiss, speaking beyond competition series, agreed, saying what's out there is mostly "bland and derivitive." And he includes his own show in that, saying the seventh season of "The Bachelor," with Charlie O'Connell, was an example of when things got complacent for the show. "The audience picks up on that." To help inject some of its spark back, Fleiss said adding producers who were excited to be on the show helped. ABC not overusing the show also helped, he said.

Reality TV "is settling into a level that is different than it was when it was explosive," he said. "It used to be something that hadn't been seen before."

Van Munster, for one, is confident reality TV is headed for "better ideas, new ideas" that will keep viewers tuning in.

"Someone always comes up with something better eventually," he said.


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Photo: (l-r) Mike Fleiss ("The Bachelor"), Brent Montgomery ("Pawn Stars"), Kris Jenner ("Keeping Up with the Kardashians"), host and moderator Tom Bergeron ("Dancing with the Stars"), Bertram van Munster ("The Amazing Race"), Conrad Green ("Dancing with the Stars"), and Eli Holzman ("Undercover Boss"). Credit: Chyna Photography