News Article

Past Imperfect

How a scandal-sniffing site keeps reality TV smokin' -- Networks now see The Smoking Gun, which has unearthed the unsavory pasts of several contestants, as additional publicity

RED HOT For some reality shows, there's no place like Smoking's homepage for publicity
RED HOT For some reality shows, there's no place like Smoking's homepage for publicity

Fox reality guru Mike Darnell feared his genre was dead after the scandal diggers at The Smoking Gun posted a report in 2000 exposing the unsavory past of ''Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?'''s Rick Rockwell. But the website that should have extinguished the genre only fanned its fires. A record 1.5 million people visited thesmokinggun.com recently to read how ''Joe Millionaire's'' Sarah Kozer had appeared in fetish films; meanwhile, Fox enjoyed its best-ever ratings on the show.

''You cringe whenever the site calls,'' says CBS rep Chris Ender -- who had a lot of 'splaining to do last year when The Smoking Gun revealed ''Survivor: Thailand'''s Brian Heidik was a porn star. However, ''they really serve as another PR vehicle.... It's not always publicity you want, but you get attention.'' As does the site, says editor William Bastone -- so it's only a matter of time before his staff takes on the ''Survivor: The Amazon'' crew. ''It's almost like we have to now,'' says a resigned Bastone. ''Everybody has something dirty in their background.'' (Additional reporting by Dan Snierson)

Originally posted Feb 26, 2003 Published in issue #698 Feb 28, 2003 Order article reprints
Advertisement

Today's Most Popular

  1. Photo Gallery: 'Twilight Saga' 'Twilight Saga': Thank it for...

From Our Partners