Producer Rob Lee has spearheaded more than 500 hours of scripted and unscripted programming over the course of his career, including standouts like "Millionaire Matchmaker," "America's Best Dance Crew," "Euros of Hollywood" and "Blowout," so he knows a thing or two about what makes for successful reality TV.
Reality TV is here to stay:
"Despite the rise of scripted drama in particular, reality and unscripted television is not going away. The economics alone, plus the fact that there is a great demand for it across demographics, makes it a staple of our television viewing spectrum," Lee cautions. "It ain't going away, but it's going to morph in a lot of different ways. And at the end of the day it's most prolific in the places that can finance it most effectively and simply, but that model is fluid and changing all the time."
The future is in mobile:
"Anybody who's starting off in reality TV has to focus on mobile," Lee says. "That's the touchstone to everything because the younger generation still is weaned on and used to watching so much if not all of their programming on their smartphone device. Everything's going to collapse into one another in terms of the digital spectrum anyway in how we're going to be viewing television."
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Why he's been resisting digital himself:
"The fact of the matter is, because the economics haven't really made a lot of sense yet for me, I am still not pitching to the digital marketplace to a large degree," Lee says. "If I'm looking at producing in that world, I'm still looking at something shorter than a half-hour show. Because the financial models are not generous or abundant enough, that is not as prolific as the short-form comedy or instructional take-away or plain information."
What makes a great reality star:
"It's that unpredictable, big, somewhat crazy personality, but mixed with brilliance and great professionalism and talent," Lee explains. "Years ago, Bravo wanted to do something with an interior designer. He was immensely talented and successful, but he was just kind of a straightforward guy, not that exciting to talk to and was really protective of all his clients, and I left the interview saying, 'I'd have him — if I could ever afford him — design my house, but he's not a TV star.' He wasn't what it took. ['Millionaire Matchmaker' star] Patti Stanger is a very outspoken, volatile, extreme personality, but she is smart as hell, the ultimate truth-teller and she really is a matchmaker and she knows her stuff. Sure, the smart reality TV person knows how turn the craziness up or down, but if it's still not who they are authentically, the audience smells it and they will not accept it."
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