A new reality dawns in Canada today, or Reality Channel at least. Canada Day brings the launch of the Global Reality Channel (channel 67 on Rogers in Toronto).
The channel does not show a bunch of creditors lining up and getting 30 cents on the dollar from Jim Shaw. That's another Global reality channel.
This one features reruns of tons of Mark Burnett product--all 20 editions of Survivor, The Apprentice, both celebrity and civilian editions (and even the original Martha Stewart version) and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader. There's also second looks at past editions of Big Brother, Fear Factor, Hell's Kitchen and Project Runway on the menu. Season 1 of Survivor, from 2000 (the Richard Hatch win) is playing all day today, with Season 1 of The Apprentice (Omarosa!) all day tomorrow.
I'm not convinced people watch reruns of reality shows. Even Fox failed at this, ditching their five-year-old U.S. reality channel this spring. Reality happens now or it's no longer reality, it's history.
Murtz Jaffer (above) begs to differ. The self-styled "World's Foremost Reality TV Expert" (he's had that phrase trademarked, and if I knew where the trademark key was I'd hit it) tells me that "people like to see other people suffer." I think they like to see new people suffer but, then again, how many million click to see the same guy fall off his bike onto his nuts on the Internet?
Jaffer says the reason the Fox reality channel failed is that it was a joke. "I was at the Fox reality awards last year," he says. "They had Hugh Hefner and Jerry Springer there--I'm not kidding you."
Jaffer is now in L.A. shooting season three of his TVTropolis series Reality Obsessed. That's the series where Jaffer, the armchair reality show expert, tries to sing, dance, survive or generally just do what the actual contestants have to do on these shows. He's just been hired as a "resident expert" for the new GRC which makes perfect sense. The 28-year-old Toronto resident is always jetting south and hanging with these reality dudes and dudettes. It would goose the new channel to drag these kids back in front of the cameras with Murtz now and then to refresh their old game operas.
I still think the key to the success of GRC is creating some original tent pole shows to draw viewers. The biggest coup would be a Canadian edition of Survivor, long overdue. I spoke with executive producer Mark Burnett about it a few weeks ago and he is more than open to the idea, although he's a tad busy right now tailing Sarah Palin around Alaska (he's producing the 8-episode series Sarah Palin's Alaska for TLC). Still, you can see Canada as well as Russia from Palin's house and Burnett could easily hop the border and light a few tiki torches.
You can read more on Burnett's musings about a Canadian Survivor here at this story I wrote recently for The Toronto Star.