The ‘baap’ of reality television, Mark Burnett gets into a free-wheeling chat with Vikas Hotwani
Reality shows have taken Indian television by storm and how! Just tune into any one of the entertainment channels in the evening and you find somebody begging you with folded hands for an SMS vote.
But if you are really interested to know about the guy who really started this ‘reality show’ trend and made it popular, so here is Mark Burnett.
But what you see in India is anywhere near the world’s best reality shows, feels Burnett who has produced world’s most recognised television reality shows like ‘Survivor’ and ‘The Apprentice’.
“Initially, when our reality series took to American television, many thought it was just a flash in the pan. And that it won’t last any longer.
But by the 17th season of ‘Survivors’, we knew we were a huge success. We had entered prime time and co-existed with other format shows and proved that reality television is here to stay,” says Burnett.
Burnett, who earned himself six 2001 primetime Emmy nominations with ‘Survivor’, is the household name across the world for reality television, having produced nine worldwide ‘Eco-Challenge’ races and series, eight ‘Survivor’ series on CBS.
So, what would the baap of the ‘unscripted’ format say of the alleged ‘fakery,’ that the reality shows are constantly questioned of?
“It doesn’t work no matter what you do. Most of the people involved with these reality shows are not professional actors. You give them a script and make them act in a certain manner, they are sure to falter and make mistakes and the immaturity in acting will be stark visible,” he explains.
Currently gearing up for the latest ‘The Contender Asia’ on AXN, an Asian version of Hollywood’s hit boxing reality show, Burnett claims to know more about Asia than any other American producer. Born out of 18 months of hard work, the show brings together 16 of the best Muay Thai boxers from all over the world to fight it out.
“I think I understand more of Asian stuff than any other American producer. Looking at the culture and the people, I feel it’s a great place to work, extremely easy assuming you follow the rules.
You follow the rules, keep your nose clean, don’t cut corners and you will be set. You do something otherwise and it won’t be easy. I am very Asian centric in that sorts,” he smiles.