m roush

ANP Judges’ Diary Blog: Episode #6

This is the episode I had dreaded watching and reliving. When I’ve followed reality-competition shows in the past (such as Project Runway and Top Chef, from the same Magical Elves production company as America’s Next Producer), I tend to hate it when everyone fails. I actually like to see the contestants produce impressive work, whether it’s fashion or food or even TV. The drama of failure can be memorable, but boy, is it painful to observe. And it’s even worse in person.The looks on our faces as we screen the late-night dating show “Click” (or as I retitled it: “Ick!”) aren’t made up for the camera. It’s genuine horror and dismay at realizing how the team was unable to keep this project, and themselves, from crashing and burning. Despite what you may have heard about professional critics, we take no joy in watching bad TV, even if ripping it can give cathartic pleasure to author and reader alike. We want what we see to be good. I ce... read more

ANP Judges’ Diary Blog: Episode # 5

Who says reality TV can’t be good for you? This is without doubt our timeliest and most pro-social episode yet. America’s Next Producer goes green, and after meeting this episode’s guest judge, Daniel Hinerfeld of the Natural Resources Defense Council, I find myself wishing I’d considered riding a bike to the stage today instead of my rental car.We’re shooting this episode on the afternoon of Mother’s Day, 24 hours before network TV’s upfront week is to begin on my home turf of New York. Everyone I know is obsessed with what new shows are being ordered and which shows on the ropes might get canceled, so it’s actually refreshing to take my head out of show biz for a few hours and think about more important matters facing the planet at large.Overall, we’re impressed by the public service announcements the teams have produced. Most have done remarkably well considering the ridiculous time pressures: two hours to research, three hours to shoo... read more

ANP Judge’s Diary Blog: Episode # 4

The first thing I hear from one of the staff as I arrive at the stage on a Friday afternoon in May (exactly one week after the first elimination panel): “They behaved themselves in front of the children.”Well, that’s a relief. After the first few judging panels, in which many of the contestants acted like petulant children, sniping and fighting among each other like schoolyard brats, a little civility would be welcome. (Although as it turns out, taking too high a road would turn out to be one contestant’s downfall.)I get a sense today isn’t an ordinary one when I’m told the kids are upstairs “in school,” and they’re not talking about the wannabe producers for once. They’re talking actual kids, child performers, who took part in executing the latest challenge. (I don’t get to meet them, but that’s not a surprise, as the show’s producers tend to keep us away from the actual process.)As we get ready for the taping of the ... read more

Judges' Diary: Episode 3

The motto of this week's episode: Comedy is hard, but watching people make comedy can be even harder. Or not, depending.I can feel this round is going to be different when I arrive at the stage, three days after the last elimination (the longest time between challenges yet), and find a laptop on a table in the judges' green room. David Hill and I meet our guest judge, Regency Television's classy president Robin Schwartz (whose company produced such comedy hits as Malcolm in the Middle and The Bernie Mac Show), and we're instructed to play a DVD with video performances of two very different stand-up acts. (We see what the contestants saw on their field trip to the M Bar comedy club.)Major kudos, by the way, to Robin Schwartz for taking time away from one of the most intense periods of any TV year — the week before the network upfronts and schedule announcements in May — to help us out. In between camera set-ups, she's checking her Blackberry and returning calls, because she... read more

Judges' Diary: Episode 2

To quote myself, as I’ve been known to do: “Reality television creates celebrities out of almost anyone.” That line, spoken during the judging panel, pretty much sums up the theme of this episode.It also applies to this week’s guest judge, Chris Moore, who became famous as the no-holds-barred taskmaster of HBO’s pioneering docu-reality series Project Greenlight. Chris is a larger-than-life personality, as anyone knows who's watched Greenlight. He’s funny and bawdy, yet as I get to know him during the long course of a shoot on a balmy Sunday night, he still seems genuinely surprised that he became a recognizable TV personality by being on a reality show.He’s the perfect choice to guide us through this challenge, which took on an unexpectedly wacky dimension when one of the guest celebs “backed out” — as in threw out his back. As we arrive at the stage, we’re told of the unusual circumstances: Lorenzo Lamas had dropped out at the ... read more

Judge's Diary: Episode 1

Being on the inside of a reality-competition show, as a judge for TV Guide Network’s America’s Next Producer, has one major disadvantage: As it’s happening, I’m only seeing half the show. When watching at home and seeing what went into the execution of each of these challenges, you may well come up with a different decision some weeks on who should stay and who should go. We on the judges’ panel only are able to see the final result and have to use that, as well as whatever info we glean from the Q&A on the stage, to make the tough call on who to send home.First elimination taping, and it’s a warm Friday afternoon in early May. The judges convene in a spartan green room. The regulars are myself and David Hill, the wonderfully outspoken CEO of Fox Sports. The guest judge is David Friedman, the boyish executive producer of NBC’s Last Call with Carson Daly. (The name seems familiar, and I soon discover his father is renowned news executive Paul Fr... read more

Judge's Diary: When Reality Worlds Collide

Matt Roush, David Hill and Ananda Lewis courtesy TV Guide Network

As a professional TV critic, I’ve been judging reality shows for years, especially since Survivor first exploded on the scene seven summers ago. But becoming a judge on a reality show? Didn’t see that one coming. Here’s how it happened: This spring I was invited to participate in a new series being produced by the Magical Elves company (Project Runway, Top Chef) for the newly rechristened TV Guide Network. America’s Next Producer would be designed on the classic model of Runway and Chef, subjecting an eclectic group of contestants to a fast-paced series of grueling challenges to test their mettle in the competitive field of TV production. My initial reaction: reluctance. “I’m a TV critic, and now I’m playing one on TV?” How surreal. But figuring that TV Guide was more or less going to be a character in this show, it seemed an appropriate fit to be the magazine’s representative. Why not? It’s certainly a new experience. So off I fly ... read more

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