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James Hibberd

'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.”





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Comments (4)


Yeah, heaven forbid you be portrayed like a human being understanding the complicated, shades-of-gray lives lived by other human beings. I personally would be much happier if everyone knew I had a cartoonish, 3rd-grade everything-is-black-and-white morality.

What a loser.

"...everything on the show happened..."

...just not in the order or context that we showed you.

"What happens is people go back to their other lives, to their wives, to their community ..."

...and we sit in the editing room for a week trying to deliver the formula we pitched to the network. So we lie a little - stop pretending you're shocked.


If he'd done his homework, he'd have known that this spurlock guy has a liberal agenda and would spin it to show illegal aliens as enlightening the Minuteman. Duh.

To think that any form of reality/documentary television ISN'T spun in a manner to protray the events in the light the producer(s) want is insane. Conflict is what the genre is all about. Reality TV, from its steamrolling start on 'Survivor' has always been to film someone in a 'fish out of water' scenario. This douche knew what he was getting into but apparently hasn't ever watched a single minute of television. Television is about drama and the drama here is that one group of people can change the views of another.

As for Spurlock's 'liberal agenda', he isn't exactly shy about his agenda but presents things how they play out. Whether or not they are out of context, try watching the news -- it is presented in the same manner, one word in a report can change the entire context of a story.

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