Written by Marketplace Communications
Published Issue: Summer 2011
The Real World was first, but Ozzy Osbourne made it crazy by allowing the camera’s unfettered view of an aging heavy metal rock star’s family as they dealt with everyday life from their mansion in Southern California.
All right, I guess anyone who watched public television eons ago could argue that the Loud family from Santa Barbara was actually the progenitor of reality television, but there was certainly an extraordinary space of years before the genre began dominating our television sets.
You can’t get away from it now, whether they are housewives from urban centers, the Kardashians, bachelors or bachelorettes, unwed teenage mothers or a pack of highly charged young people living in a modern crash pad; we still can’t get enough real life.
California Conversations believes we have the ideas for fascinating television.
We are supporting the idea of creating a Capitol Network, hosted by San Francisco Assemblywoman Fiona Ma and Central Valley Senator Tom Berryhill. These two have enough personality on their own to carry a show but their likability and differences in outlook make them a natural for introducing the shows being proposed.
This is the story of eight legislators picked to live in a house near Discovery Park in Sacramento. It would not only describe real life under the Capitol, but it would also be enlightening to watch the late night discussions over a bottle of wine between the ultra-conservative Assemblymembers Tim Donnelly and Allen Mansoor as they chat about legalized marijuana and licenses for illegal immigrants with liberal San Francisco Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and Los Angeles Assemblyman Gil Cedillo. Away from the discussion of politics, we would also have the side benefit of selling cookbooks of the appetizing meals these gentlemen make while working in the kitchen together.
The Deadliest Vote
This chronicles the fictional adventures of five moderate Republicans during the most dangerous time of the year: the budget deadline. New blood, old wounds and rivalries emerge. At stake is the willingness to risk their seat in the Legislature for a vote that separates them from their colleagues. Adding to the conflict will be commentaries by former Senate Pro Tem John Burton, the profane but clever old lion, and Jon Fleishman, the provocative and daring young voice of the Republican Party. Of course, the follow up to this particular show may be The Biggest Loser: This short program will follow the Republicans in the months after they provide the deciding votes.
This would be a cutthroat exercise as eight to ten senators and assemblymembers try to outwit, outplay, outmaneuver and outlast each other as they compete for the ultimate career-launching prize package, the Speakership of the Assembly and Pro Tem of the Senate. The weekly system of progressive elimination would allow the contestants to vote off the other candidates until the remaining two have their official portraits taken and they are shown to their new offices in the historic side of the Capitol.
Of course, Fiona and Tom can also provide the commercial oversight to this endeavor.
There is the possibility of new lines of cologne and perfumes, fishing gear and golf clubs.
An entire floor of the Capitol can be turned into the “Legislative Makeover Floor,” as legislators and staff have their hair, makeup and wardrobe professionally done; the before-and-after photos would make for an inspiring book all on its own. There can even be a “Before They Were Stars” program that shows pictures of legislators before they got into politics. And for those willing to go the extra limit, we can have “The Real Spouses of Sacramento,” the inside story of what it is like to be married to an elected official.
We don’t pretend to have all the answers on this particular project. A talk show hosted at the wooden picnic table by Governor Brown and Anne Gust Brown might even be considered as a possibility to fill the void after Oprah’s departure from network television…”Afternoons with Jerry and Anne.”