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Dc: With the completion of the Survivor series and the upcoming sequel in Australia's outback scheduled for broadcast in January, the inevitable copycat rush has started in Hollywood. In fact, when I visited her office recently, Suzanne Perriwinkle, creative projects developer for Chutzpah Studios, told me she doesn't want to see anything cross her desk that doesn't have a "survivor" component.
Perriwinkle: We're doing Polka Survivor in Western Minnesota next summer.
That's going to be Fantastic. It's got music, dancing, tradition, food.
Wonderful. And I love the "couple" element. Betraying a stranger
has been done to death! Selling out your dance partner who you've known
for years and are maybe even married to
brings in a whole different
Dc: And this show uses "real people?"
Perriwinkle: All the shows use REAL people. I don't want to see any
Dc: But I've seen some of these "real people" try to do commercials, and they can't pull it off.
Perriwinkle: No, real people can't act. They can only be themselves.
Dc: I thought the most true thing on TV was the news.
Perriwinkle: The news departments are there to promote our reality programs. And we've got some great ones coming up.
(sfx: moving around heavy papers)
Here's one I like. It's called "Get Off the Bus!"
Dc: A movie contract?
Perriwinkle: For a major motion picture!
Dc: So the people on the bus are actors?
Perriwinkle: No! No more actors! These are real people.
Dc: But you said real people can't act.
Perriwinkle: They don't have to. The movie will be based on our program, and they'll be playing themselves. If they manage to stay on the bus.
Dc: What happens on the bus?
Perriwinkle: The trip takes six days. Every day, three people are booted off one at breakfast, one at lunch and one at dinner.
Dc: How does that work?
Perriwinkle: We stop for a meal and one of them is left behind. Maybe it will happen in a small town café, or in a greasy spoon in a troubled big city neighborhood, or at a picnic table in Death Valley or wherever!
Dc: You abandon them?
Perriwinkle: No! Not completely.
Dc: You fly them home?
Perriwinkle: NO. They are moved to another show!
Dc: So if they lose the first show they still have a chance to get home on the second.
Perriwinkle: Or they could wind up in the hospital, or prison. But not in a threatening way. Then after they've healed or served their time, we put them on a third show called "Comeback." They're grouped with people who have been on other reality shows but have lost.
Dc: And this is also a competition?
Perriwinkle: Yes, it's a contest between pathetic losers.
Dc: And there's one winner? What happens to the other fifteen?
Perriwinkle: They become three time losers!
Dc: And then they move on to another show?
Perriwinkle: No, the viewing public gives up on you after three times.
Dc: Still, after this string of humiliations the network must feel some responsibility.
Perriwinkle: Yes, we will hire them here at the network as lackeys and underlings. That way, if our ratings tank, we've got people to shoulder that and take the fall.
Dc: Making them four time losers.
Perriwinkle: If something works for you, there's no shame in doing it over and over. As long as you get paid.
Dc: Suzanne Perriwinkle, creative projects director for Chutzpah Studios.