To a crowd of television critics in Los Angeles, ReelzChannel CEO Stan Hubbard said the young network is evolving from studio-based productions to working with big producers in the business. And he’s pleased with the outcome this far. He cited “Beverly Hills Pawn” from Asylum Entertainment, its first reality show, as tripling the network’s demo audience. The show will go for a second season, he announced.
Two more reality shows were on display at the press tour. “The Capones” follows a family related to the notorious gangster Al Capone. They have at a pizza restaurant in Chicago and create all sorts of family drama with little instigation required—if their performance on the panel was any indication. They sported names like Meatball, Sausage and Cherry Lips, and fought with each other on stage, as they likely will on the show. Dirty laundry on display, indeed. “We do it for free anyways. Might as well get paid for it,” said head of the family Dominic Capone, adding that “we argue anyways. We argue at the restaurant. We argue at the house. We argue in front of people. It’s just, things blow up.” Fireworks to start in November.
The other reality series, “Hollywood Hillbillies” (airs early January), features a YouTube sensation of a family from rural Georgia whose sound bite-happy hillbilly observations (“We put the fun in dysfunctional”) call to mind something of “Honey Boo Boo”—except there’s a sense of earnestness to this family, particularly from grandma (“Mema”) and Michael Kittrell (The Angry Ginger). Asked by critics whether they were prepared for the inevitable onslaught of judgment the show will surely trigger, the heated redhead replied (nearly losing it on stage), “all the people can make fun of us, and that’s fine, okay? Because it only matters that we love each other, and we’re proud to be who we are.” You go! Also, he requested that someone find him a pretty blonde to date.
Following the reality fare, Reelz showcased a show of a very different kind of show: a forensic investigation into JFK’s assassination. “JFK: The Smoking Gun” (premieres November 3) boldly names who investigators believe to be JFK’s second shooter: a secret service agent by the name of George Hickey, who accidentally shot the president from a car trailing behind him. The research is based on the work of Australian police detective Colin McLaren and a book written by Bonar Menninger called “Mortal Error.” Naturally, critics were skeptical. So despite a lengthy demonstration on stage displaying the direction of the bullets on that fateful day, critics rightly posed the question, how could it possibly be kept secret for 50 years, and covered up by the US government no less? “It wasn’t in their best interest to talk about it,” Menninger replied. “This is an enormous failure of their mission as Secret Service agents to protect the President…There’s no benefit to any of those people to telling that story.”