'Reality' survivors want more of the fame
Last Updated: June 14, 2003
There ought to be a halfway house for the survivors of reality shows, a place where they can learn to live without the drug of fame before re-entering their old lives.
Alas, even if such a place existed, George Boswell, Tonya Paoni and Chadwick Pelletier probably wouldn't want to go there anyway.
When to Watch
What: "Reality People"
When: 9 p.m. Monday
"Reality People" looks in on this formerly famous trio in the aftermath of their glory days on CBS' "Big Brother," in Paoni and Boswell's cases, and MTV's "Road Rules," in Pelletier's. What the hourlong special finds is three people who have no use for their old lives, thanks just the same.
Boswell, the most familiar of the three, is the mouthy but good-natured man from Rockford, Ill., who was known as "Chicken George" on the first "Big Brother," three summers back. With a Joe Sixpack personality and the beer belly to go with it, he quickly became a poster boy for middle-aged, Midwestern regular-guy-ness.
So what does a regular guy do after a couple of months in the limelight? Well, this one quits his job as a roofer and, with his wife as manager and cheerleader, sets himself up as a full-time celebrity.
Boswell's goal is to become the host of a TV series called either "The Wild and Wacky Show" or "Wild and Wacky in America," he can't decide which. But, judging from the reception he gets for his performance as a pilgrim at the wild, wacky Turkey Testicle Festival in Byron, Ill., George may have quit his day job a little too early.
The camera picks up more than one dubious glance in the crowd. Worse, some dancers he was hoping to work refuse to perform in their turkey costumes.
Las Vegas resident Paoni, too, is eager for a show-biz career as - well, what is never clear. The owner of a megawatt smile and a killer bod, she's too short for modeling and apparently too inexperienced for anything else.
This doesn't stop her from visiting a talent agent, who asks her if she's ever sung, danced or acted. No, no and no, she replies cheerfully, but she's sure she could. Has she surfed? No, but she's positive she could do that, too.
A Playboy shoot for a "Girls of Reality TV" layout seems to hold promise, but the feature never materializes. Yet, like Boswell, Paoni, who likes to describe herself as "a sexy mom of five," remains convinced that stardom is just around the corner.
Pelletier, a Colorado native who has relocated to southern California, is a little different. A Harvard dropout who once wanted to be a doctor, he's taken acting and martial-arts classes and has had some modest success in low-budget action films.
But Pelletier complains that "Road Rules" hurt his budding career more than it helped by sneaky editing that made him look like a jerk. And, sure enough, just before he walks into an agent's office, we hear him described by the agent's assistant as "that guy who did the back flips and kept annoying everybody."
Why, then, if he was so disgusted with the way the first show came out, did Pelletier go on to appear on three other MTV reality specials? The makers of "Reality People" never ask him.
In fact, they don't bother asking Paoni or Boswell whether the quest for fame has imposed a burden on their families. Or, for that matter, whether they themselves don't get discouraged when the Playboy feature falls through or the belt on the pilgrim suit keeps falling down.
As a result, the AMC special may satisfy a little bit of your curiosity, but it won't give you much in the way of insight.
Of course, at 45 minutes, once you subtract the commercials, it does give George, Tonya and Chadwick 15 more minutes of fame apiece.