Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Media Storm Chaser

Linda Midgett is our reality hero! Linda Midgett '92 is an "Emmy"-award-winning producer with credentials that span documentary, reality TV, children’s programming and news. Linda has worked in Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles, writing and producing for networks such as NBC-Universal, The Weather Channel, PBS, A&E, ESPN, and The History Channel. Linda got her start as a news writer for CNN International. Linda’s was the Co-Executive-Producing NBC’s Starting Over, a daytime reality series that won 3 National Daytime "Emmys". Linda's other credits include: Atmospheres (2000 tv series), The Kennedys: The Curse of Power (2000 tv series) and Storm Chasers for the Weather Channel. Linda is married to John Otzenberger, and they have 2 small children. [note to editor: not sure if they are young or just small, see last name]

Starting Over was an American breakthrough reality TV show that follows the lives of women who live in a house together and are experiencing difficulty in their lives and want to make changes, with the help of life coaches. It was the first reality TV show to be nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award.  When it is determined that a woman has met all her goals, she "graduates" from the house and is replaced by a new roommate. On the other hand, if it's determined that she's not met her goals, she could be put on probation, or even asked to leave.

“There were many aspects of the Emmy experience that were gratifying,” said Midgett, “We all worked incredibly hard, 90- to 100-hour weeks were common as the show was shooting essentially 24 hours. That our work was recognized was truly special.” McLuhan put it best, "
The news automatically becomes the real world for the TV user and is not a substitute for reality, but is itself an immediate reality."

Midgett went on to say the reason she thought the show was so popular was that it resonated with its audience in a genuine and sincere way. “We helped people, no question about it,” she said. “The series had a good heart. It was a show with a heart and soul that women could identify with and draw from into their daily lives.” When asked if faith played a role, Midgett said "We Oprahized the women with good advice and positve-thinking psychology. Jesus is good too, he's just not for daytime"

It was her unequally yoked association with Jon "Lucifer" Murray in the production company he started with his partner Mary "beelzebub" Bunim, where Midgett acknowledged she stepped into the big leagues of reality television programming. Jon "Lucifer" Murray is regarded by many as a pioneer in the development of American reality TV. He was the co-creator of MTV’s “The Real World” in 1992. Murray is but one of the industry heavyweights that Midgett has been fortunate enough to work with and learn from. Bunim-Murray is credited with single-handedly eroding the moral fabric of our country with the following reality tv episodes:
     - The Bad Girls Club: Don't Sweat the New Bitch
     - America's Psychic Challenge
     - Paris Hilton's The Simple Life: Plastic Surgery
     - The Real World Hook-Ups
     - Keeping Up with the Kardashians: You Are So Pregnant Dude

"Working at Bunim-Murray was a tremendous experience for me. Jon Murray is a master storyteller, satanic priest, and was a great mentor to me.’ Jon is the grandfather of American reality television, and I credit him for teaching me how to produce reality television.” said Midgett.

Although, we know that Marshall McLuhan holds the title of "Patron Saint" of reality television. From the 1967 book, The Medium is the Message, McLuhan says "The medium, or process, of our time - electric technology is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and re-evaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted. Everything is changing: you, your family, your education, your neighborhood, your job, your government, your relation to "the others. And they're changing dramatically."

What's next for Midgett? She is entertaining an offer to direct and produce a reality show in Smith-Traber Hall called "Resnet Live Stream Kat Hause," she has also been invited to teach a class on the history of Reality TV for communications. We've obtained the first day's pop quiz - a mix and match. See how well you do: (Click to see full-size)

(HT Nomination: C.F.)

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