How Tabloids Became a Preview for Reality TVS

TV cameras on one side, paparazzi on the other, reality stars' lives are broadcast twice: once in the tabloids and once on TV, the former a preview for the latter. Is this the death of gossip, or a renaissance?

In the stone age of celebrity—before celebreality existed, when Hugh Hefner's main occupation was "editor" and the glint in Paris Hilton's eye had yet to be captured on night-vision camcorder—tell-all memoirs and Oprah Winfrey's couch were the authoritative voices on celebrity scandal. But as Kendra Wilkinson weathers the release of a sex tape and Real Housewife of New Jersey Teresa Giudice claws her way out from $11 million of debt, the question isn't "Will she speak out?" or "To whom?" but "When can we watch it in real time, on her TV show?" (Now and in the near future, Kendra and Teresa reply.)

Or, in the case of Heidi Montag's daily soap operatic pantomimes for the paparazzi, "Is the tabloid coverage compelling enough to convince a network to pick up her show?"

The proliferation of reality TV pilots raises the stakes on those who stumble into a tabloid trap. For instance, Pretty Wild star and then-non-famous Alexis Neiers just happened to be filming a reality TV pilot when she was arrested and convicted for her role in Hollywood "Bling Ring," robbing the homes of stars. (There's a pretty good metaphor there, if anyone cares to dig it out.) What luck, to be arrested while the cameras are on you! Why not die in front of your reality cameras—someone did that once, too.

Reality television changed the way stars think of paparazzi. Before she had her own TV show, stylist Rachel Zoe made a name for herself treating the tabloid press like fashion magazines—a stroll past the paparazzi was just as important as a trip down the red carpet, for her celebrity clients and for the designer labels they wore. It was inevitable that reality stars would learn this trick, too—but instead of looking chic in the latest trends, all they have to do is go about their daily business, loudly and openly. Since living one's life loudly and openly is the sum total of a reality star's job, she (and, let's be honest, most of the time it's a she) can kill two birds with one stone by inviting the tabloid press to film her filming her TV show. When Heidi debuted her new face, boobs, and bod in the tabloid press, she winked (or tried to wink, through the Botox) and told the world to tune into the The Hills to see her family and friends' reaction to the cosmetic mutilation of a loved one, recorded live and on MTV. And with a face like that, who could say no?

Soon, all of reality will be an ad for reality TV.

See Also:

The Real Story Behind Heidi and Spencer's Probably Fake Divorce [Jezebel]
Pretty Wild Might Be the Worst Television Show Ever Made [Gawker]
The Infinite Paradox of Kendra Wilkinson's Sex Tape [Gawker]
The Kardashian Bikini Paradox: Famously Large Asses Perpetually Losing Weight [Gawker]