'You Screwed Me!'
July 12, 2006 7:32 PM
Reality show participants often accuse program producers of manipulating footage and inaccurately portraying events. But usually not on the producers’ own TCA panel. In a moment of terrific TCA drama, a participant in an episode of FX’s “30 Days” panel accused producers Morgan Spurlock, R.J. Cutler and Ben Silverman of manufacturing a transformational conclusion to the upcoming second-season premiere. The episode, about illegal immigration, features a member of the anti-immigration Minutemen militia that “guards” the U.S.-Mexico border. Minuteman Frank George lived with a family of illegal immigrants for a month and was adamant that any misty-eyed heart-softening captured on camera was wildly unfair to include in the episode.
“You guys screwed me,” George said. “It was out of context. They were able to shape the story in the manner they wanted to. I thought [the portrayal] was grossly unfair to the American people.”
George admitted that the vast majority of the hour-long episode was accurate, but took issue with the last five minutes, when he seemed to shift from his hardliner views. Producers calmly defended the episode.
“Things are not out of context,” Cutler said.
“Yes they are out of context!” shouted George.
“There’s a [title card inserted] at the end about his continued involvement in …” Cutler said.
“Because I made them do it!”
Producers said they were aware of George’s opinion before the panel. And as George continued his complaints, it seemed his expectations might have been a little out of whack.
After the session, Cutler took the conflict in stride.
“One problem with [the reality] genre is that there are producers out there who do anything they want,” Cutler said. “But the reason George can talk about the show is we showed him the tape beforehand, because we wanted his feedback. What happens is people go back to their other lives, to their wives, to their community, and they start to feel differently about things. But everything on the show happened.”