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Unlike much of America, D.C. filmmaker Jon Gann watched the Fox reality show On the Lot Tuesday night. As chronicled previously on City Desk, Gann spent a fair amount of time and effort trying to land a spot on the program, which pits hopeful moviemakers against each other for a chance at a million-dollar “development deal.” After seeing, again, how reality TV manipulates reality to contestants’ detriment, one might be happy for Gann that he didn’t make the cut.
But Gann is more sanguine. He knew several of the contestants, having met them at festivals. (Gann runs the D.C. Shorts Festival, which City Paper is a sponsor of.) “I figured out the ringers right away,” he says. “People I know who are going to make it to the next level.”
But Gann’s complaint is less personal than provincial. “I find it amazing that out of 50 semifinalists, there’s not one person between Richmond and Baltimore. That there’s not one person representative of the D.C. area—-and this is the third largest film town in the country. It’s really kinda disgusting.”
Perhaps D.C. filmmakers are too busy with actual work to bother with tiresome reality show trickery. Or just didn’t want to be that close to Brett Ratner.
Gann believes the show was “pre-cast. They went for specific characters,” he says. Indeed, most of the hopefuls fall narrowly into the 25-35 age range. Also, Gann notes that the producers culled from “specific areas of the country,” that is, mostly midwesterners. That’s a ploy for ratings, he contends.
“In case you’re starting a reality show and you want support from people, people who call in, I’m sure [the producers] know that statistically more people call in from the midwest than from the coasts.” Overnight ratings for the show, however, reveal that On the Lot lost more than half the audience from the show it followed, American Idol.
Still Gann found On the Lot “relatively fascinating,” and says he’ll continue watching. “Now it’s a trainwreck.”