Entertainment behind the scenes
“Balloon Boy” and the drive for reality TV fame
Now that authorities say last week’s balloon boy incident was just a hoax, the public is getting re-acquainted with the underside of reality television. Richard and Mayumi Heene, parents of the 6 year-old boy thought to be trapped in a balloon before he was found in an attic, are expected to be charged this week with making up the whole scenario.
If what authorities are saying about the Heenes is true, they may have been hungering for fame, and saw the hoax as a great way to get a reality TV show. As everyone knows by know, the Heenes already starred in a past episode of the reality show “Wife Swap.”
Reality TV is littered with personalities who have cashed in on whatever public prominence they have gained to try and become a media star.
The latest is disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is making a bid to star on Donald Trump’s reality show “Celebrity Apprentice.” Following his arrest last year on corruption charges, the much mocked Blagojevich became a reviled. But lack of popularity has never been much of a liability in the reality TV world, which relies heavily on villain-type personalities such as married provocateurs Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt.
And then there are the parents who make their children the focus of a reality show, such as Jon and Kate Gosselin (“Jon & Kate Plus Eight”) and Nadya “Octomom” Suleman (“Octomom: The Incredible Unseen Footage”).
Rod Blagojevich and shows like “Jon & Kate Plus Eight” have parallels to the possible “Balloon Boy” hoax. Just as Jon and Kate Gosselin put their children in the spotlight, the Heenes did the same with their 6 year-old son Falcon Heene. And just as the “Jon & Kate” show rolled on even after the couple announced in June that they were divorcing, the Heenes may try to capitalize on their newfound fame, even as they deal with their own nightmare — namely criminal charges.
After all, being charged with a crime does not bar you from becoming a reality TV star. The governor’s wife appeared as a replacement for him on “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!,” when a judge barred him from leaving the country to star in the show, because of the corruption charges he faces. But there do not appear to be many legal impediments to Rod Blagojevich starring in “Celebrity Apprentice,” because he would not have to leave the country for the show.
Similarly, could we expect to see the Heenes pop up in another reality show, even as they face criminal charges for allegedly orchestrating a hoax that got the fame in the first place? When did reality TV get so weird?