This past weekend, LA played host to the “Reality Rocks Expo,” a two-day celebration of “reality, unscripted, factual, and lifestyle” television at the LA Convention Center. We contemplated going, but decided to pass on the probing, deep discussion of Big Brother and Pitbulls & Parolees panels and music performances from a procession of American Idol rejects. Okay, reality is an easy target. But c'mon, if you live in LA it's particularly difficult not to be disgusted by the machine that spews out this never-ending procession of pseudo dramatic, self-important drivel. More than any other medium, reality shows have perpetuated clichés about our city and the people who live here, hence, manifesting them (forget about acting- now, more hopefuls than ever move to LA with the dream of living fabulously phony “real” lives in front of cameras ala The Kardashians and Real Housewives). Still, some have been more real than others (usually music-themed).
Read on for our report from Svedka Vodka's “Night of A Billion Reality Stars” kick-off party and Nightranger's personal faves list of Top 10 Most Rockin' Reality Shows.
At Svedka's bash, (also celebrating Funny or Die's new reality spoof), everybody seemed to be in on the famous-for-being-famous joke, at least. The brand new, yet-to-open club venue Lexington Social House (formerly Forbidden City) was cluttered with cardboard cutouts of Kim Kardashian, Kate Gosling and Holly Madison (a statement on their personalities?) and partiers seemed to have a quite a blast posing and dancing with 'em. DJ Solange Knowles provided the sounds and Joan Rivers even took to the DJ booth at one point. Watch out Pauly D!
It was a fete full of faces we couldn't quite place and apparently every one there seemed to be having the same problem. Even for a Hollywood club this was a stare-fest. Which season of The Bachelor was she on? Hey look, it's that guy from the Real World Las Vegas, or was that New York? No, we are NOT the redhead from The Bad Girls Club. And so on…
Inspired by the party (more pics in this week's Nightranger slideshow) and in honor of Reality Expo Weekend, here's “Nightranger's Top 10 Most Rockin' Reality TV Shows,” a list with some expected choices, some surprises and long-gone faves they should really bring back. Until somebody decides to do a show about intrepid (cough-cough) music/nightlife reporters, these top the slop. Did we miss any? What are yours?
10. Gene Simmons Family Jewels- The situations seem pretty set-up, but one thing that's not faked: The Demons' mega-size ego and business savvy behind the KISS branding empire.
9. Rockstar Supernova– Might have been hokey in presentation but this one not only featured real rockers (Tommy Lee, Gilby Clarke, and Jason Newsted), it also offered opportunity for edgier unknowns an alternative to American Idol.
8. Rock of Love- Aka Stripper of Love. Would have been completely unwatchable if not for Bret Michels' genuinely nice guy appeal.
7. Supergroup– The concept: Seabastian Bach, Scott Ian, Evan Seinfeld, Ted Nugent and Jason Bonham form an all-star band. This many personalities is a win… or lose… but either way, fun to watch.
6. Bands on the Run– A band competition that had groups out in the trenches playing clubs, fliering, promoting. Would love to see this back and playing out in the social networking milieu. Wonder whatever happened to Harlow?
5. Bands Reunited– This defunct VH1 show was actually quite brilliant and brought real drama. The host ambushed estranged band mates (mostly from the '80s) and talked them into getting back together with about 50% success rate. Fun fact: They tried to do The Smiths but Morrissey wasn't having it.
4. The Surreal Life– Musical alumni over six seasons included MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Jordan Knight, Pepa, Jane Wieldlin, Da Brat, CC Deville, and of course spin-off star Flavor Flav. We'll admit, if this came back, we'd watch it.
3. How Do I Look/What Not To Wear– Nothing musical about these two, but rocker fashion always seems to the look of choice for guests in need of making over. Obviously, most punky participants are just looking for a way to promote their band and get free clothes.
2. Celebrity Rehab– Because the sex and especially the drugs were often more riveting than the rock and roll on Behind The Music.
1. The Osbournes– There's only one Ozzy (sorry Gene) and watching him and wife Sharon, you never felt like it was bullshit. We now know the Prince of Darkness' demeanor was affected by meds, but his wit and personality always shone thru. Meshing rock debauchery and quirky family life has never been done so amusingly and probably never will again… unless maybe it's inside Steven Tyler's house.
Follow Nightranger aka Lina Lecaro on Twitter at @L_in_A