When Filming All The Crazy Stuff Leads To Harm

"Film the crazy stuff you do."

That was the alleged suggestion a TV producer made to a teenager about self-filming a segment for Warner Bros.' syndicated daytime talk show "Anderson."

Even if half- or a quarter-true, this smells of what seemingly is still wrong in syndication and reality TV: Producers all want the craziest, more dramatic, most visible stuff for their shows -- especially for reality efforts -- sometimes to the harm of participants.

If indeed that's a show's intention, all this is comes at a cost to "journalism."

The segment on "Anderson" -- which didn't air -- related to discovering all about the teenage mind. So this particular teenager did what you might expect -- take a skateboard and do some tricks. Unfortunately, a particular trick put him into a coma.



For years, there have been stories about certain syndicated shows -- weird-looking daytime efforts laden with loud arguments and near-fights with girlfriends and boyfriends involved in strange combinations -- where producers would suggest to guests: "Be yourself. Don't hold back your emotions when you go on the show."

We all know what that was about. Still, we can't imagine a producer asking anyone to put themselves into harm's way.

Sure, there are hundreds of skateboard accidents with teenagers -- some serious, some just amounting to minor scrapes. Prime-time reality shows also focus on strong visuals and audio where big disagreements, backstabbing and volatile reactions are consistent parts of the shows.

There is nothing wrong with this. The only problem comes when those off-line incidents define what a TV show is. And then it can become worse. Especially when noted TV journalists, such as Anderson Cooper, become attached to such content.

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