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Bad behavior on reality TV is tested path to fame

By Cristina Silva

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, June 4 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

This Monday, June 3, 2013 photo shows Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale, Ariz., with the menu displayed outside the restaurant. The restaurant temporarily closed after their “Kitchen Nightmares” episode aired. The episode of “Kitchen Nightmares” drew more than a million viewers on YouTube, and restaurateur Amy Bouzaglo's vitriolic rants became popular fodder on Twitter and Facebook. Bouzaglo announced she is shopping around her own reality TV show.

Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press

PHOENIX — Arizona restaurateur Amy Bouzaglo became an instant Internet celebrity last month after demonstrating an impressively short temper on a reality TV show that helps reform struggling businesses.

The episode of "Kitchen Nightmares" drew more than a million viewers on YouTube, and Bouzaglo's vitriolic rants became popular fodder on Twitter and Facebook.

So it should surprise no one that her next step was to announce she was shopping around her own reality TV show.

These days, head butting, table flipping, belly slapping, hair pulling, smack talking and other behavior generally considered impolite have become a tested strategy for reality TV fame, as seen in the proliferation of such shows as "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," ''Basketball Wives" and the "Real Housewives" franchise.

Some reality "stars" have become brands of their own after churning out self-help books, hair products, cocktail lines and flavored water. And the next generation of more shocking, immoral and declassee reality celebrities always seems just one face-slap away.

"That's the easiest kind of reality show to make and to sell," said Jason Carbone, a veteran reality TV producer behind shows such as "Road Rules," ''The Bachelor" and "Run's House."

"It's something where there are loud characters doing stupid, obnoxious things and you are either laughing with them or at them," he said.

Richard Hatch became America's favorite villain when he won the first season of the CBS reality series "Survivor" in 2000 by forming alliances and otherwise acting strategically. His behavior likely would be considered tame compared to the current crop of bad boys and girls, said Max Dawson, a reality TV show consultant in Los Angeles.

"He didn't pull weaves out and attack the other contestants on social media while the show was airing," Dawson said.

While cast members once had an entire season to build a character arc, social media now incentivizes villains to immediately act outrageous.

"Any moment is not only going to be discussed ad nauseam on Twitter, it's going to be uploaded on YouTube, it will be turned into an image meme, it will instantly, in most cases, go viral," Dawson said.

Modern television has become so predictably vulgar that a PBS station in New York recently launched a series of subway ads lampooning reality shows. The posters promote fake shows including "Bad Bad Bag Boys" and "Knitting Wars," alongside the slogan: "The fact you thought this was a real show says a lot about the state of TV."

Bouzaglo, who has repeatedly ignored requests for comment, was expected to discuss her proposed reality show on the television newsmagazine "Inside Edition" late Tuesday. She and her husband, Samy Bouzaglo, said they went on the show to disprove bad online reviews of their business, Amy's Baking Co., in Scottsdale, Ariz. But their story went viral after host and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay ended up walking away when they grew incensed over his constructive criticism.

It's not hard to imagine the foul-mouthed, defensive couple launching a TV series and creating a line of, say, Amy's Angry Kitchen products if only because so many others have already blazed that path.

On Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," Teresa Giudice launched a line of cookbooks and hair products after flipping over a table at a dinner party. Beauty pageant participant Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson became a household name after the TLC network created a show capitalizing on her family's redneck stereotypes.

On MTV, the nastiest "Real World" contestants are often the ones invited back each year for an athletic competition show that can sometimes feel like the cast is reliving their cruelest high school memories.

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