Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Inside Scoop on "the Simple Life"

It sounds like such an easy thing to do: take two pampered, spoiled, beautiful young women to rural America and film them living "The Simple Life." However, as Fox and Bunim-Murray Productions are learning, there is nothing simple about it ... and keeping it a secret isn't simple either. RealityTVWorld.com has been told some exclusive details of events during filming of the upcoming Fox reality TV show The Simple Life, starring the socialite team of 22-year-old hotel heiress Paris Hilton and 21-year-old music heiress Nicole RIchie.

to make sure that a local family would welcome them, Fox built an addition onto the house of the people with whom they were staying, at Fox's expense. No mobile homes for Paris and Nicole!

Paris and Nicole's skimpy attire has certainly drawn attention ... and criticism, although mostly behind their backs. One local referred to them as the "nearly naked models." Apparently, many of the locals are giving them a wide berth -- but at least their looks impress the teenage boys (and their underlying wealth doesn't hurt any, either). Needless to say, the teenage girls are jealous.

Paris and Nicole have been stuck with an old blue truck for use when they are being filmed. The truck is a piece of junk and has broken down several times. However, when they aren't being filmed, the two vixens apparently have use of an SUV. Not exactly the simple life, after all. In fact, another local referred to the entire venture as "bogus bullsh--."

Fox's The Simple Life, starring Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie -- a show which may have pushed the boundaries of reality TV too far. Under closer examination, some of the sequences on The Simple Life seem to be nothing more than improvisational comedy, no different from a Whose Line Is It Anyway? set in the Ozarks with two amateur comediennes.

Take, for instance, the scene in the show's second episode where Paris and Nicole, while working at a dairy, fill glass milk bottles with a hose, while Danny Council, the dairy farmer who owns "Danny's Dairy Farm," pushes them to get more bottles completed for a rapidly-approaching shipment on a delivery truck. Ultimately, according to the sequence as aired, Paris and Nicole were pouring water from a bucket into the bottles to deceive Danny and fill their quota.

Our summary of the episode notes that Paris and Nicole were told by Danny that the milk was unpasteurized and asks whether it's legal to sell unpasteurized milk in Arkansas. The answer? No.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, all cow's milk sold in the state must be pasteurized. A dairy can sell up to 100 gallons of unpasteurized goat's milk in a month, but customers for that milk must come to the farm to buy it. Thus, there is no way that unpasteurized milk could be bottled for delivery ... and, anyway, this dairy farm just had cows, so all of its milk would have to be pasteurized before sale. Under state law, either Danny should be in jail, or the only thing "real" about this scene was that it "really" aired on TV.

One of our favorite writers, Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Sun-Times, noted that People magazine talked to dairyman Danny Council. Should Danny be in jail? No, because the scene was completely staged. Said Danny, "None of that [milk] meets health department standards. It was totally for the show." In fact, even the presence of the glass bottles that Paris and Nicole filled was fake -- the show supplied them, apparently because glass bottles are more in keeping with the "look" that the producers wanted for rural Arkansas.

So ... the bottle-filling, the delivery deadline, the devious filling of the bottles with water ... every bit of the scene ... was all play-acting by Paris, Nicole and Danny. We fail to see how this is different from improvisational acting.

Although most of the show's participants are bound by confidentiality agreements and aren't talking, we find it difficult to believe that many of the other events portrayed in the show so far are any more "real" than this scene was. In fact, although The Simple Life was billed as a reality-sitcom, it more closely resembles scripted comedy, since even such choices about what activities to perform and what type of props to use seem to be made by the producers ... and, perhaps, the writers.

Now we know why the local teenage girls were jealous of Paris Hilton during her stay in Altus, Arkansas to film Fox's The Simple Life.

The New York Post reports that, during filming, 22-year-old Paris had a "fling" with 18-year-old Trae Lindley, at the time a high-school senior. Only problem: Trae, who ranked third in his high-school class and had been named homecoming king, had a long-time steady girlfriend: Carolyn Cains, the homecoming queen. However, to Trae, the choice between the two was easy; he wanted to see Paris in the springtime.

Paris met Trae during one of her early "day jobs" for the show (which was largely filmed in May 2003): working in the Lakeside Food Mart. She picked him out of a crowd of kids in the store and asked him to "'stay here and talk awhile,'" he said. "I was too nervous at the time to remember what I was talking about. I couldn't even remember what was said after I was done talking to her." But Paris had enough wits about her to ask for his phone number before he left.

Almost immediately thereafter, Trae and Paris were having two-hour phone conversations, and, in his words, "people knew she had the hots for me and I had the hots for her." Exit Carolyn, enter Paris.

During filming, Trae took Paris to the movies, the mall and the bowling alley ... ending up with plenty of camera time while locking lips with the hotel heiress. Paris came to his high school graduation, sparking a near-brawl with Carolyn and her friends, and went out with him to local restaurants.

A manager of Fat Tuesday's decribed Trae and Paris as "really cute," calling their relationship "more of an innocent, teenage-type relationship." In other words, except for the fight with the "other woman," it had little in common with Paris' much more public relationship with Rick Salomon, the married owner of "Beverly Hills Pimps & Hos" and Paris' sexual partner on the infamous sex tape on the Internet.

While this characterization may be hard to believe, even Trae's parents have nice things to say about Paris and her co-star Nicole Richie, whom they entertained for dinner. Trae's father George, who owns a real-estate company in nearby Ozark, said that "they were very well-mannered. Paris was very nice, very sweet and not like she is portrayed in magazines." Trae's mother Tammy added that "they were very normal when they came to dinner. They thanked us." Nice to know that Paris and Nicole still retain a semblance of good manners when not on videotape or drugs.

Ultimately, Trae had to make a choice. When Paris returned to L.A., she offered to take Trae with her and to find him work as a model. But Trae, who would have been giving up a full scholarship to the University of Arkansas and doesn't have a multi-million dollar trust fund to fall back on, showed that his parents raised him with good sense by turning her down and heading for college instead.

Trae has remained in contact with Paris, although contact has become harder since the sex-tape scandal broke. Says Trae, "When I did speak to her, she was really stressed out and said she can't leave the house anymore, she can't have fun. I feel embarrassed for her. I feel like she got a lot of crap from it and I feel sorry for a lot of what she's going through."

Shooting on Fox's controversial The Simple Life reality show, starring LA socialites-dilletantes Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, in Altus, Arkansas wrapped up a week early, apparently due to troubles between the "stars" and the crew, according to a RealityTVWorld.com poster from the area. According to this poster, Paris and Nicole threatened to quit the show after being reprimanded for spending four hours on the phone. Although the show still had planned to shoot for two more weeks, Paris and Nicole spent little time with the locals during the next week, and the production came to an unscheduled end that Friday.

, the producers and the crew clearly seem to have been "loathed" by the locals, for their apparent intent to portray the Ozarks and Arkansas as one step regressed from the Clampett family in The Beverly Hillbillies. The Fort Smith (AR) Times Record reports that the producers, for example, set up a phony "grape-stomping" booth at the Altus Spring Gala for Paris and Nicole (who wisely declined to take part) and filmed unkempt areas around town whenever possible.

Even an 11-year-old girl watching the filming got the point, stating that the producers "are making fun of us. ... They were saying, ‘They’re so totally poor,'" Only the mayor of Altus, who still hoped (forlornly?) that the show would portray Altus in a positive light, seemed comfortable with the filming.

As for Paris and Nicole, yes, they may be beautiful and spoiled, but they at least seemed to be open to trying new things and avoiding rural stereotypes ... certainly more so than the producers and crew were

In The Simple Life, the only thing "real" appears to be the slender, tanned, silicone-free bodies of Paris and Nicole. Will that be enough to compensate for the most unreal "reality" show to ever hit the U.S. airwaves?

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