The phenomenon of reality television… we are amazed by its allure and longevity. As viewers, we cringe with embarrassment as people stumble through their lives in public… but we don’t look away. Why do so many tune in? And why do some reality shows thrive on their stars’ sometimes toxic behavior? The report airs on “20/20,” Friday, March 11 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. Reports include:
Famous for Being Famous: Richard Hatch, Kate Gosselin, the Kardashian sisters, all those real housewives… a litany of names famous for just about one reason only — reality TV, people famous for being famous. But viewers gobble it up. Why? John Berman set out to find out. Are we all just trying to find our “inner Snooki?” Berman speaks to Richard Hatch — arguably the king of reality TV characters, who imprinted himself on our consciousness more than 10 years ago as the first winner of “Survivor” – to find out.
Real Housewives: Deborah Roberts takes a look Bravo’s breakout hit “Real Housewives” and examines why things often turn so nasty on the show. “20/20″ talks to Kyle Richards of the Beverley Hills show about the ugly showdown with her sister, Kim, and to Michaele and Tareq Salahis (best known for gate crashing the White House), who talk about why they believe the other DC Housewives turned against them.
Cashing in: From Bethenny Frankel’s “Skinny Girl” margarita to Kim Kardashian’s perfume to Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino’s protein-infused vodka to Nicole “Snooki” Pollizzi’s novel, Chris Connelly reports on how some reality stars are using their 15-minutes or more in the spotlight to set up earning opportunities apart from their shows.
Winners: As Deborah Roberts reports, from runway divas to cake bosses, some reality shows do require talent to win, and then succeed.
Bret Michaels: How did a rock superstar from the ’80s become a reality TV superstar, capturing the country’s imagination and turning himself into a brand? Bret Michaels tells “20/20:” “Nothing has ever come easy. I’m a junkyard dog that has been kicked a bunch of times. And so it’s kept me with a bit of an edge. I’ve got this fire in my gut and this passion. And my whole life is about fighting to — to make that passion somehow — try to make it succeed.” Chris Connelly reports.
Charlie Sheen: Is the next big reality star Charlie Sheen? Chris Connelly reports.
“20/20″ is anchored by Elizabeth Vargas and Chris Cuomo. David Sloan is executive producer.
“I realized there was really no alternative, if I wanted to live, I had to do this,” President Bill Clinton
“I would find myself busting into tears and sobbing uncontrollably,” David Letterman
“…Stop the heart, work on it, restart it… good luck,” Robin Williams
“They’re going to put him on a gurney, roll him into the OR room and bust him open like a lobster!,” Regis Philbin
“It was hell,” Charlie Rose
“I probably would have had a heart attack and may very well have died,” Barbara Walters
What do Barbara Walters, President Bill Clinton, David Letterman, Regis Philbin, Robin Williams and Charlie Rose all have in common? They all went from being in the spotlight to being in the operating room for life-and-death open heart surgery. Now in a groundbreaking report, the “brotherhood of the cracked chest club” (as Robin Williams describes them) all open their hearts to Walters and reveal their emotional stories of how they triumphed over heart disease. Each account is an intimate portrait of these most public figures, infused with laughter and tears. Walters also takes viewers on an unprecedented behind-the-scenes journey of her own battle from discovery of a faulty heart valve to the operating table and recovery. In addition, she talks to doctors, including her own, about what viewers, especially women, need to know to save themselves and their loved ones. “A Barbara Walters Special: A Matter of Life and Death” airs Friday, February 4 at 10 pm ET/PT on ABC.
Even though a half a million Americans annually will have their chests cracked open and their hearts literally stopped and repaired, open heart surgery remains shrouded in fear and mystery. As Walters says, “It’s no big deal… just a matter of life and death.”
Many Americans are ticking time bombs and they don’t even know it. Heart disease is America’s No. 1 killer – half of us will die from it, and it doesn’t discriminate. “It’s astounding that people think that heart disease is a disease of men, when in fact, it kills more women,” says Dr. Kathy Magliato, one of the few female heart surgeons in the world. But women do not have the same symptoms as men, and this report describes the difference.
“Take advantage of the technology and the care that’s available. There’s no reason why a man or woman in this day and age should unexpectedly drop dead of a heart attack,” says Letterman.
In his first interview since the tragic shootings at the Safeway in Tucson, Arizona, Capt. Mark Kelly sits down one-on-one with Diane Sawyer to offer an intimate portrait of a modern American love story, and to talk about a great national tragedy and finding the strength to heal. Their emotional conversation took place one week after the tragic shooting.
She is the political centrist who likes to ride motorcycles. He is the NASA astronaut set to command space shuttle Endeavour’s final mission this April. The two met in China, and their first date was not a typical one – a trip to an Arizona State Prison; she was working on legislation about capital punishment. Now, their relationship has captured the hearts of America. For the first time, Capt. Mark Kelly opens up to Diane Sawyer about the moment he heard the tragic news, the emotional bed-side vigil he has kept since, and how the nation’s outpouring of support has impacted them. In addition, Sawyer gets insight into the dynamics of the couple from friends and loved ones who know them best.
The exclusive interview will air during a special edition of “20/20″ with Diane Sawyer, “The Congresswoman and the Astronaut: An American Story of Love and Strength,” Tuesday, January 18 from 10:01-11:00 p.m., ET on the ABC Television Network. Portions of the interview will first air Tuesday on “Good Morning America,” “World News with Diane Sawyer,” and will continue later that evening on “Nightline,” with additional coverage from ABCNews.com, ABC News Radio, ABC News NOW and ABC NewsOne, the network’s affiliate news service.
ABC News’ “Good Morning America” Co-Anchor Robin Roberts travels to Alaska for an interview with Sarah Palin to air on Friday, December 17 on “Good Morning America.” Roberts will spend a day-in-the-life with the former governor and mother of five at her home in Wasilla.
In a wide-ranging interview, Roberts will talk to Palin about her new book, “America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag,” plus all the major political news of the day, from taxes to health care and foreign policy.
A portion of the interview will also air on “Nightline” on Friday night (11:35 p.m., ET).
Ben Sherwood, an award-winning journalist, bestselling author and digital media entrepreneur, has been named as the new president of ABC News, it was announced today by Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, to whom he will report. In this position, Mr. Sherwood will be responsible for all editorial, programming and digital aspects of our global news business encompassing all ABC News programs on the ABC Television Network, ABC News Radio, ABC News.com and ABC News NOW.
In making the announcement, Ms. Sweeney stated, “Ben’s proven success in the news business, along with his entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, and keen intellect, make him the ideal choice to lead ABC News into the future. His previous tenure at ABC led to the most successful seasons in GMA’s history, and his success as a bestselling author and digital entrepreneur demonstrate a unique skill set that is as valuable as it is diverse.”
Mr. Sherwood said, “It’s a great honor and privilege to be asked to lead this amazing news organization, and I am humbled by the opportunity. For more than 20 years, I’ve known firsthand of the passion, excellence and integrity of the people who work for ABC News. I am thrilled to be coming back home, and look forward to harnessing our innovation and creativity to build on our great history of success.”
Mr. Sherwood began to explore a career in journalism with student internships at KCET public television in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times Washington Bureau, and the CBS Evening News in New York. In 1984-1985, during a year off from college, he worked for The News and Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina; the Los Angeles Times Paris bureau and the United Nations Border Relief Operation in Aranyaprathet, Thailand.
He launched his career in earnest when he joined ABC News in 1989, serving as an investigative associate producer and producer for ABC News’ PrimeTime Live with hosts Diane Sawyer and Sam Donaldson. During that time his investigative reports explored flaws in the secretive B-2 stealth bomber program, the dangers of unlicensed mental health practitioners, and the unheralded risks of an overprescribed heart medication.
“I’m literally just rotting… there’s nothing I can think of that’s good in my life right now,” Ashley, a 21-year-old who smokes as many as 100 hits of heroin a day, tells “20/20″ in a rare look at a largely unknown and growing problem for American families — heroin addiction. The number of addicts in America has nearly doubled since 2007, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. ABC News Anchor Chris Cuomo reports that heroin addiction is not to be dismissed as an inner-city scourge — kids from suburban families are falling victim like never before. Chris Cuomo’s report airs on”20/20,” Friday, October 29 (10:00 – 11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
For eight months, “20/20″ follows young addicts Ashley, Dylan and Justin, caught in the grip of heroin. These teens represent the new face of the problem, and also serve as examples to dispel preconceived notions about “who is likely to become an addict”. “20/20″ delves deep inside the lives of their suburban families. Justin struggles on his own, thousands of miles away from home; Ashley braves treatment for the first time as her parents struggle, walking the line between enabling addiction and losing their child; and Dylan, a rehab veteran, faces his loving family, including three younger brothers, who worry that he will die if he doesn’t get help. Sobriety is an everyday fight for each of them, one where life is on the line.
“20/20″ is anchored by Elizabeth Vargas and Chris Cuomo. David Sloan is executive producer.
The popular ABC News series “Primetime: What Would You Do?” returns with a full season order of all new scenarios, beginning Friday, October 29 at 9:00 pm ET. The show, which was called “a Candid Camera of Ethics” by The Columbia Journalism Review, ranked No. 1 in its 9:00 pm time period among the broadcast networks in Adults 18-49 and Adults 25-54 during its run this summer. The show more than doubled the performance of ABC in time period, increasing by 110% in Total Viewers and by 133% in Adults 18-49 from the Net’s performance in the hour in the comparable weeks last summer.
Using hidden cameras, “What Would You Do?” establishes everyday scenarios and then captures people’s reactions. Whether people are compelled to act or mind their own business, John Qui–ones reports on their split-second and often surprising decision-making process. “What Would You Do?” will air on Fridays from 9:00 – 10:00 pm ET on the ABC Television Network.
Scenarios for Friday, October 29 Include:
Cougar Tutor: It is exam season, and with college admissions on the line, more and more high-school students are turning to tutors for help. But what do you do when you are at a coffee shop and you see a sexy, 30-something tutor being way too affectionate with a teenaged student? What if she is stroking his hair, or rubbing his back and what if she is dressed so provocatively that the science tables don’t stand a chance?
- Anti-Military Protest: A “WWYD” scenario ripped from the headlines… on a sidewalk near a military recruiting center, ‘protesters’ against the Afghanistan War heckle a young man who is on his way to volunteer for duty – chanting “no more war!” and “baby killer!” Will passersby defend the protesters right to free speech, or will they protect the recruit and get in their faces? And what will happen when the protesters start taunting an elderly veteran who happens by?
- Gay Bullying: They are tragedies that have become heartbreakingly familiar in recent weeks: gay teens being bullied by their peers. It is an experience so painful that some victims have been driven to take their own lives. What will witnesses do when they see a teenager being taunted mercilessly by his friends simply because he is gay?
- The Mom who had too much: It’s understandable that a new mom might need to blow off a little steam and have a glass of wine every now and then, but what happens when a mom brings her young child to a bar? What will the other patrons do when the tipsy mom has more than a few too many while her child just wants to go home?
“What Would You Do?” has won awards from the Chicago International Television Festival, and the Avon Foundation’s 2006 Voice of Change award for exposing “injustice and wrongdoing against women and bringing the message of domestic violence to the mainstream.”
David Sloan and Chris Whipple are co-executive producers and Danielle Baum Rossen is the senior producer of “What Would You Do?”
It’s a story so unbelievable, it has everyone wondering what really happened. The documentary film “Catfish” bills itself as “a reality thriller that is a shocking product of our times… a riveting story of love, deception and grace within a labyrinth of online intrigue.” But the media and moviegoers alike have questioned the validity and truthfulness of this Sundance Film Festival favorite. The film follows Nev Schulman, a 24-year-old New York City photographer who becomes entangled in an internet relationship with a Michigan family that includes an eight-year-old art prodigy, her beautiful older sister, Megan, and her mother, Angela. Nev’s filmmaker brother, Ariel, and friend Henry Joost document the budding virtual love affair between Nev and Megan and embark on a road trip to discover the shocking truth about the family.
“20/20″ examines the unraveling of a romance and the mysterious source of the online deception. Jay Schadler’s report includes an exclusive interview with Angela, the woman at the center of the story, as well as the real “Megan” – both of whom speak for the very first time. “20/20″ airs on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 8 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
What happens to a family when a child’s birth becomes a medical mystery? Barbara Walters reports on Kaylee Halko and Lindsay Ratcliffe, two vibrant young girls who suffer from a rapid aging disease called progeria, a fatal condition that currently affects 68 known children in the world. The disease causes children to age at 10 times the normal rate. It’s extremely rare – occurring in only one in four to eight million births – and always fatal. On average, children die at the age of 13.
Walters also interviews one of the oldest surviving children with progeria and explores the secrets of aging that her body may reveal.
“20/20: A Barbara Walters Special” airs FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 10 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. The hour also includes footage from Discovery FootageSource.
ABC News launches a new primetime series, “Nightlineprime,” with four installments of “Secrets of Your Mind — Why We Do What We Do.” This marks “Nightline’s” first foray into primetime series. “Secrets of Your Mind” premieres THURSDAY, AUGUST 19 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) and continues for three successive Thursdays, concluding September 9.
In this series, “Nightline” anchors and producers explore the mystery and the science of the brain through a range of extraordinary case studies. The series also features the work of world renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Julian Bailes, of West Virginia University Health Sciences Center, and his patients. Each installment of “Secrets of Your Mind” will focus on a different research area, including love’s impact on the brain, medical emergencies involving the brain, violence and the brain, and food and the brain.
Thursday, August 19: “Nightline” co-anchor Cynthia McFadden explores the brain in love. She follows a remarkable story of love lost and found again after a traumatic brain injury. McFadden also talks to a man who is literally paralyzed by love-a peculiar brain condition that causes his body to shut down when he experiences feelings of love for his wife.
Thursday, August 26: Martin Bashir takes a journey inside the mind of a psychopath. Bashir examines evil’s origin in the brain, whether people are born with a tendency for evil or violent behavior, and whether that can be detected in childhood. In his reporting, Bashir visits death row for a close-up look at two of the country’s most notorious serial killers. He also speaks exclusively to the distraught father of Chris Benoit, the pro-wrestler who murdered his family then himself.
Thursday, September 2: “Nightline” co-anchor Terry Moran embeds with Dr. Bailes for a first-hand look at life-and-death drama inside the operating room. It’s a race against time as cameras capture an aneurism bursting on the operating table and Dr. Bailes and his team have only seconds to react.
Thursday, September 9: Food on the brain and its impact on America’s obesity epidemic is the topic of the fourth and final installment. Martin Bashir reports on a story of an obese woman who has tried everything to lose weight, and now is embarking on the most revolutionary weight loss procedure ever attempted-brain surgery. Bashir also peers into the mind of a woman who eats out of control while she sleeps. The brain’s mysterious relationship with food closes out the series.
James Goldston is the executive producer of “Nightlineprime.”