CBS Addresses ‘Kid Nation’ Story
July 18, 2007 11:01 AM
TelevisionWeek’s cover story “The Founding of Kid Nation” explored how CBS either smartly engineered a groundbreaking TV show that allowed 40 kids to escape the conformity of our consumer society and get a lesson in hard work and friendship that will last a lifetime, or found greedy parents willing to sacrifice their children for an exploitative and abusive new low in so-called reality programming.
You’ll find both opinions rephrased literally hundreds of different ways in the comments below the piece, including feedback purportedly from “‘Kid Nation’ parents.” (A surprising number of responders misconstrued the story’s description of CBS programming as “long considered the most conservative of the broadcast networks” as a shockingly naive liberal attack on conservative political values—the modest cost of Drudge Report flooding your site with readers.)
CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler addressed the story on the TCA stage when a critic asked about “reports” that the network took advantage of a loophole in New Mexico labor laws and used the Bonanza Creek Movie Ranch film set (which includes a couple of original structures, but was mostly built in 1983 for “Silverado”) instead of a real ghost town to re-create “Bonanza City.”
“The show absolutely did not violate any laws in New Mexico,” she said. “[The kids] were not employees of CBS. [Bonanza] was originally a ghost town … but it had been used by a couple of movie crews after that, yes.”
Not that CBS minds the controversy. Tassler repeatedly noted the network is actively courting debate as part of its strategy to create more buzz-worthy programming.
“There are aspirational elements to the show, but in order for a reality show to really get out there and change the landscape of television, you have to stir public debate,” she said. “We knew we were going to create some controversy. … I don’t want it to have a negative connotation. … The whole objective was to get out there, do something different and try and reach out to have people talk about the show.”
More to come after the “Kid Nation” panel this afternoon.