Celebrities including Eva Longoria, Barry Bonds, Leah Remini and Kat Von D will go head-to-head with everyday people who don't like them in a new CW reality series called H8R.
Episodes featuring Jersey Shore's Snooki and Kim Kardashian have already been shot. The Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss, Extra host Mario Lopez, and Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey executive-produce the show. Lopez said if the show has a message, it's "Hate is not cool. Celebrities, believe it or not, have feelings too."
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Speaking to reporters Thursday at the CW's fall TV preview, Fleiss also came to the defense of the rich and famous. "For celebrities, it's a chance to rehabilitate their personal image," he said. "They get dragged through the mud when anything goes wrong in their lives."
In each episode of H8R, which premieres Wed., Sept. 14 at 8/7c, will pair celebrities with their biggest "haters" in an attempt to win them over and reveal, according to Fleiss, "the real person behind the celebrity." Finding people who were openly hostile toward celebrities was not difficult in the age of Twitter, Lopez said. "Twitter provides a forum for cowards, who are probably sitting at home in the underwear." As such, the show will test whether or not the hater "has the guts to say this stuff to their face," Lopez said.
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The haters are not told about the show's actual premise when they're recruited; producers tell them a different type of documentary or show is being shot. (Lopez noted that extensive background checks are enforced to ensure the haters are not also stalkers.) Convincing celebrities to participate was also a snap. Some are Lopez's personal friends, while others "like the anti-hate, anti-bullying message," said Gregorisch-Dempsey. In some cases, they've nominated their haters, who they know from the Internet or Twitter.
In any case, a conversion from hater to fan does not always take place. "Sometimes it doesn't work," Lopez said, adding that some participants come out of their one-on-one time even more entrenched in their hatred. At one point, one celebrity-hater pairing nearly came to blows during filming. "We're just going to light a fuse and see what happens," Fleiss said.
To those that would scoff at giving celebrities this type of a vehicle to confront unsuspecting non-fans, Fleiss said you'd be surprised at how a celebrity bleeds. On the show, "you see how these rich and famous people are really wounded and hurt when they hear someone hating on them," he said. "No matter who you are, when someone is talking that way about you, it hurts."