October 15, 2010 in Economics
(Originally Posted on MySpace Channel’s TV Blog)
Last season, MTV’s ‘Teen Mom,’ gave viewers a glimpse into the lives of four teenage girls who became mothers at an age when they should’ve been more worried about getting a date to prom. Well, Maci, Amber, Catelynn, and Farrah are back for season 2 of ‘Teen Mom,’ as they adjust to new realities of motherhood, love, life, and moving on.
I had a chance to speak with Farrah, a single mom as she faces the new reality of work, motherhood, trying to make ends meet, and trying to find love. This season, she seems to have matured quite a bit. Check out the interview.
Kat Ahn: Great to speak with you. So tell us, this is season 2 of “Teen Mom,” are you used to the cameras following you around now?
Farrah: I’m very used to the cameras. I mean, its been 2 years now, but some of my friends aren’t used to it. I’m actually friends with the crew and they don’t get in too much of my space.
Kat Ahn: Cool. So, what do you think it is about ‘Teen Mom’ that is resonating with viewers?
Farrah: I think ‘Teen Mom’ has more truth and responsibility to it. You know I don’t really follow the shows that encourage, getting drunk and having sex with more than one partner. There is a responsibility that does go on when you do have sexual intercourse. Young people/old people all watch our show because its for every type of group and everyone can relate.
Kat Ahn: Well said. Last season, you dealt with being a young mom and living with your parents. But after a recent incident with your Mom, you moved out. How are things now between you and your Mom?
Farrah: Right now…um..my Mom and my relationship is better than ever. We’re in family counseling now. I recommend that to every mom because it will help the relationship between mom and child. Kid and Mom. You have to in order to have great relationships.
Kat Ahn: Tell us about Sophia. How is she doing?
Farrah: Sophia is 17 months and she’s wonderful. She’s getting cuter as she gets older. I love her walking around, trying to help me, and learning different words very quickly. She’s having a growth spurt on learning vocabulary because my parents and grandparents help to learn words. They want her to learn 200 words by the time she’s 2.
Kat Ahn: So cute. So, what do you think this whole experience is teaching you? What can we look forward to seeing from you this season?
Farrah: I can’t speak for the other girls because we have unique situations. For me, this has gotten me through the barrier with my parents. We can be honest and not get frustrated. We will never have bad communication again. It has helped me, I would say..you know, being portrayed as going out all the time, now I make sure I’m not out all the time. I’m a teenager, going to school, and being responsible for my daughter. I’m the only parent for hero so it matters more to me that I’m more responsible. I can’t always be depressed. The show has helped me move on.
Kat Ahn: That’s good to hear. So, do you think this show glamorizes teen pregnancy?
Farrah: I don’t know how this show does that. The context needs to be looked at. I mean, I work hard, go to class and I don’t get glamorous things. I don’t think it is at all. I don’t get people who say that. We all have issues and problems.
Kat Ahn: There are viewers who love your show, but aren’t so kind about their views on your parenting style. What would you say to them?
Farrah: You know..I used to look at what they did say. Going to counseling has helped me get my priorities straight and looking at those don’t matter anymore. I understand that you have an opinion, but I don’t get why you’re saying that to me. I do have respect for my parents but I know that my parents aren’t right all the time. They have to look at both sides.
Kat Ahn: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Farrah: Getting my Associates degree iin culinary management, opening a restaurant. I also want to get a Bachelor’s for law degree. I want to be there for Sophia, save money for her to go to college.
Kat Ahn: Again, awesome to hear. So are we ever going to meet Sophia’s Dad?
Farrah: When you watch this season, you will see what happens with me and Sophia’s Dad. That’s all I can say.
Kat Ahn: If you could talk to your 14 year old self, what would you say?
Farrah: You know I recently did a panel discussion with Bristol Palin and I kinda touched on how before I met Sophia’s dad, I wanted to go to college and focused on expectations in guys when I was 14. I knew I wanted to wait and like many girls, they need to fill a void of wanting to fall in love. That got in the way of expectations of myself. Shortly after I turned 15, I got off track. Now, though, I’m back to normal. I’m back to who I was before I met Sophia’s Dad.
Thanks for your time, Farrah. And check out the Season 2 premiere of MTV’s ‘Teen Mom,’ tonight at 10 PM ET/PT.
Getting a call-back is always cool. Especially if its for a guest-starring/recurring role on an MTV scripted pilot called “That Girl,” created by Lauren Iungerich, who also wrote/produced/directed the web series “My Two Fans,” as well as written for “10 Things I Hate About You.” Unfortunately, I didn’t book the role, but I will say that this script (what I’ve read of it) is really smart and funny. Can’t wait to see when it airs.
Check out her interview about “My Two Fans” below!
MTV’s “True Life,” has been around since 1998 and it is still one of the most compelling docu-series on TV with topics ranging from drug use, sexual addiction, body image issues, and social behaviors such as visiting the Jersey Shore or getting married. Considering the fickle nature of the MTV audience, it is almost unheard of for an MTV show to be on the air for 12 years and still be thriving. Oh, and did I mention that “True Life,” has won numerous awards including a 2008 Emmy Award for Best Special Class Series and the 2005 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary?
I had a chance to speak with Betsy Forhan, Executive producer of MTV’s “True Life,” about what makes the show so relevant to today’s audience, how she knew she wanted to be a producer, and of course, the scoop on this season’s upcoming episodes.
Betsy, really cool to speak with you as I know you’re super busy. I’ve been watching “True Life,” since it aired in 1998 and it still remains as relevant and compelling as ever. Are you surprised that “True Life,” is still as popular then as it is in 2010?
Well, I mean yes and no. In the TV world, its rare that for anything to last this long on because the medium is so fickle. You gotta keep moving with the times and things change so fast.
Seriously. I mean, I grew up with the show.
You touched upon something that was interesting which is that you were able to grow up with the show. We have a constantly evolving audience and as the older people phase out, we have a brand new audience that is just being introduced to our show. MTV, in general, always has a changing audience but knows how to stay relevant with shows like “I Have Digital Drama.” We could not have done that show a few years ago because it wouldn’t have been as relevant. And you know what, in 3 years, it could be a different landscape. I’m not surprised.
I watched “I Have Digital Drama,” about 4 times already. I myself am addicted to social networking sites like FB, Myspace, Twitter. Its so strange to see all the relationship problems that the Internet causes. Well, it must be exciting to be an EP for a show like “True Life,” that has won numerous awards including a 2008 Emmy Award for Best Special Class Series and the 2005 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary. How do you keep it fresh for the younger audiences?
Well, we have a bunch of people who work on the show. In our office, it’s a range of ages from our executives in their early 40′s to the young people who are just out of college. You know, PA’s interns, brothers and sisters of the interns, and so we have a whole pool of people who are like “What about this?” What about that? Over the course of 200 shows and 12 years, we’ve considered thousands of ideas for shows since we have so many people thinking about it. We’re doing like 30 a year now. We’re always on the lookout for what’s new and what’s happening, new issues, social issues, what’s fun. And certain topics we’ll do repeat shows because people are reall interested in them. Topics like Body image/Relationship/OCD/Tourettes Syndrom, I mean, we sort of zoned in on those types of psychological disorders. We have certain veins to tap into and we think about what would be something that might be of interest to our audience. We’ve repeated a few ones…”I Want a Perfect Body,” and “I’m Getting Married.” The ratings for those shows did really well.
As a former New Yorker, I really just LOVED “True Life: I’m Going to Fashion Week,” because it shows the world of being a lowly assistant in the Big City, and also a glimpse into the exclusive world of fashion. Did you come up with that idea for the show? How did that come about?
That was Cheryl Sirulnick who was really behind that show. She’s a NY girl, lives in Tribeca and had been pitching it for years and finally, one of those years, our boss said yes. Sometimes it can be capricious. I mean, we live in NYC and think Fashion week is really interesting, but we have to be aware of what the rest of America is interested in watching. Luckily, it worked out. Oh, and Kelly Cutrone (in “True Life: I’m Going to Fashion Week) is absolutely hilarious in real life.
She keeps it real. So, when you choose willing participants to be on these shows, what do you look for? How do you know if they’ll make interesting stories?
We look for people who POP, meaning when I’m watching audition tapes, I need to be captivated by them or I’m slightly bored. If my mind is bored, that’s bad. For example, the combination of Nicole/George on “True Life: I Have Digital Drama,” they POP. Also, people need to have forward moving stories in order to be on the show. You can find a million people with OCD and other disorders, but we need people with a forward moving arc. We need to see them go somewhere with their forward moving stories or we don’t have a show. We’ve had to kill shows because we couldn’t cast it. For example, in “True Life: I’m Supporting My Family,” we were lucky enough to find UNIQUE…she’s awesome. She was among the all-time top 5 characters because she’s beautiful, smart and dealing with serious stuff. Yet, she has this cheerful, plucky spirit. Sometimes we cast off our website and other times, we plant seeds, reach out to to doctors if we’re doing a show about a particular disorder. But, you know casting relationship shows are the hardest because you need to have this forward moving arc, and sometimes you don’t know what you’re gonna get.
Very true, and I LOVED Unique in that “True Life: I Support My Family.” She’s got a real positive spirit and didn’t let life bring her down. So, let’s talk about”Jersey Shore,” which was apparently started after the popularity of one of the True Life shows that took place at the Jersey shore for a summer share. How do you feel about starting a Jersey Shore revolution and introducing the world to “The Situation,” Snookie and DJ Pauly D? (Laughs)
How could it be anything but an honor? People can be like oh they’re over the top and say bad things, but they’re so lovable. I’m not close to GTL, but I think they’re (the cast of Jersey Shore) hilarious. I love eccentric people who are just being who they are. We did a teen pregnancy show and it repeated really well, getting decent ratings. This is a topic for our viewers really seemed to connect with and when MTV took a chance for “16 and Pregnant” it did really well.
I’ve literally had “True Life”-a thons with friends where we’ll watch these shows for hours on end. What are some of your favorite episodes?
Wow. Well, I only started in 2005, but I loved “True Life: I’m Supporting my family,OCD, Tourettes, and some of the quieter ones like True Life: I have Schizophrenia. In that episode, Josh wasn’t taking his meds and I just felt for him so deeply. I connected with his story and there have been so many. Its hard to ask me about my favorites because if I went through hell to put it together, well then I don’t like the show… because it wasn’t easy for me. (laughs) If it took me a long time to do it. I’m biased in a normal way. Well, let’s see…in the next season, I hope you’ll like “I Hate My Face,” its about people who have body dysmorphic disorder who obsess over their faces. One of the girls’ realizes she has it and the other one doesn’t realize until the end. It’s fascinating to see them grapple with the issue and as a viewer, you like to see a turnaround by the end. I hope that seeing the show will help them take a step. I hope it pushes them to get help.
Definitely. We definitely want to feel like things will get better for the people in the shows. Well, I actually interned at MTV News and Docs as an NYU sophomore and remember logging footage and working with a lot of the AP’s on “True Life: I”m a Cheerleader.” It was a TON of interesting footage and I remember thinking, “How do the producers pare down all this footage into an hour long show?”
Think of it like a sculpture. We have a tentpole theme, a crazy theme so you think about 2-3 killer scenes that have to do with the topic. Then you figure out A to B to C. Beginning to Middle to End. Paring it down is hard, but you have to start somewhere with an outline, cutting in Edit and asking, is it making me feel something? Make a giant through-line and carve it down. Unfortunately, there are many cool funny moments that fall on the cutting room floor.
Give us a taste of this new season’s episodes. Well, let’s see, there’s “I Hate My Face… I’m Hustling in the Hamptons.” This was an interesting show and we follow 2 characters during a summer at the Hamptons where there’s this ritzy part and Hampton Bay, the working-class part. So we follow Johnny who is from Hampton Bays and Brittany, an African-American gossip blogger who is trying to infiltrate their scene, but knows she’ll be the only black girl on the list. And on May 24th, we’re doing a “True Life: Presents,” a show about what it’s like to be like young in Saudi Arabia. Its very interesting. We acquired it from an outside producer, Loki Films. They pitched it to us because it was youth-oriented and it just fit with us. It was really beautifully shot.
Wow. Can’t wait to see that one. So tell us, how did you get started as a producer? What advice would you give to the young folks out there who are trying to figure out their path?
You know, I wanted to be a news reporter and liked to tell stories, but wasn’t finding jobs that I wanted. I was waitressing after college, but I wasn’t starting my career. I thought “I can’t do this forever.” Finally I saw Tabitha Soren, our first MTV news correspondent in 1992 and said to myself, “That’s where I want to work. MTV News.” I studied Poly Sci, social thought and political economy and would hide People magazine in my bag. It was the whole People magazine side of me. I saw Tabitha and thought that she’s mixing Entertainment and Politics. Soon, I applied for an internship and it was a way to get my foot in the door. I was an intern at MTV News and was like…”This is what I want to do.”
I hustled at MTV because its all freelance here and I kept getting hired, but trust me, no one was footing my bill. I had to work 3 days a week and waitress for 2 days, lived in a crappy East village apt. But you know, I was called to do this. My advice is that internships are the way to get your foot in the door in a competitive career. At the end of your college career is the best time to get an internship…WHERE YOU WANT TO WORK. I worked at “Crossfire,” at CNN, and it wasn’t my thing. I was glad that I didn’t get hired there. Do your internships where you’d love to get a job and WOW them. First to get there, last to leave, work like a dog, and understand that you’re just there to do whatever they need. If you work hard, they’ll want to hire you. What gets you hired is innate intelligence, good ideas, then that attitude that you’re willing to do anything/everything for them. The PA who will do everything and never complain…that’s who will get hired.
Words of wisdom from someone who knows. Betsy, Thank you for your time. And keep those interesting and relevant “True Life” shows coming! Check out “True Life” on Mondays at 10/9 c on MTV.
And check out an episode of True Life: I’m Supporting My Family below.
MTV’s stepping up their scripted slate with the original movie, “Turn the Beat Around,” premiering Feb 26th at 10 PM which is the story of Zoe, (Romina D’Ugo) a struggling dancer who is looking to make it big in the competitive City of Angels. This dance drenched original feature also stars newcomer Jason Derulo (of “Whatcha Say,” fame) as well as Brooklyn Sudano who most recently starred in ABC’s “My Wife and Kids,” and portrays the manipulative choreographer Malika in “Turn the Beat Around.” Did I mention the soundtrack also boasts tracks from Cobra Starship and Sing It Loud?
I had a chance to chat with the uber-intelligent (The girl was a valedictorian!) Brooklyn Sudano about how she stays grounded in Hollywood, our mutual love of Kid Cudi, and her advice to anyone out there with a dream.
Brooklyn, great to have you with us. BTW, I loved “My Wife and Kids.” It was one of my favorite sitcoms in recent years. Do you think that working on a sitcom at a young age really helped hone your comedic acting chops?
Definitely. It was a fun show to be a part of. You know, “My Wife and Kids,” was my big break and I was just thrown into it. The Wayans family and Tisha Campbell-Martin were comedians who live and breathe comedy. It was a great learning experience and you had to be on your A game on set. Tisha is such a professional and she really was a great example. She always came prepared to work and is amazing at what she does. Working with Damon, Tisha, and everyone…I learned a lot.
Very cool. So, what was it like growing up as the daughter of an icon like Donna Summers? You don’t seem so affected by Hollywood’s bad side.
I mean, obviously growing up in a family with parents in the spotlight, people will focus on the negative aspects. They think we should all be on drugs, write tell all books. I was really lucky because my parents were really great and were supportive of me and my sisters. I think they really imparted to myself and my sisters that it is to really important to learn your craft and be an artist. Not just singing, acting, writing, painting, exploring all those sides of creativity. They gave us the environment to experiment with those things which was cool for being a creative person…they supported you. Not a 9 to 5. They completely understood that I wanted to go to this field and I actually grew up on a farm in Thousand Oaks so I had a fairly normal upbringing. We did fun stuff with traveling, glamorous stuff with my mom, but I know what celebrity/fame means. I act because I love it.
Love how grounded you are. And the choreographed sequences in “Turn the Beat Around,” are fun to watch. How long have you been dancing for?
I danced on and off my whole life. I’m an actor who dances and moves well. I had an amazing support system with Trey Armstrong, the choreographer on the film. A lot of the other dancers have been on “So You think You Can Dance Canada,” so I was dealing with pros and had some catch-up to do. The best part was probably that I got to play the choreographer so I got to boss people around which was definitely fun.
Haha. You also got to work with Jason DeRulo on the film and its his first professional acting gig. What was that like? Were you giving him pointers and letting him know if he did something wrong? BTW, that “Whatcha Say,” song is still in my head.
I had that song in my head for a month. We were on set when the song was really just breaking, I mean, really just about to super duper launch. He was really deserves all the success. I mean he’s talented, writing, dancing for a really long time. He’s only 19, but a super professional and fun! As for me giving him pointers, no, from actor to actor, you respect each other’s space and just be available. I leave all directions to the producers and pay attention to what I need to be doing. It was Jason’s film/acting debut, but he was really good. He was a pro.
Let’s talk about your character Malika who is an overly ambitious choreographer. How did you prepare for the role?
Malika was definitely playing a different side of myself. The villain…how fun is that! Ultimate mean girl. Malika is a real person. A lot of times when people are mean, condescending, arrogant, they’re just masking insecurity. A little bit misunderstood. I tried to make a reason for why she was that way. Sometimes when you’re at the top, you’re lonely. Its lonely at the stop and sometimes you don’t know how to connect with people anymore. I tried to approach it from an personal level and make her real.
So, what’s next for you? Any current/future projects that you’re working on?
Yeah, its pilot season right now so that’s always crazy. I finished a couple indie films including “Five Star Day,” which is actually starring Julianna Guill who was in the other MTV original movie, “My Super Psycho Sweet 16.” It also stars Cam Gigandet, Jena Malone and hopefully that hits theatres soon. Also “Five hours South,” a dance movie that’s set in Italy which combines all different styles of dance and sort of brings the world together through dance. We’re wrapping filming now.
Nice. So Brooklyn, what are the top 5 songs in your ipod right now?
- Lady Gaga “Bad romance”
- Kid Cudi
- Kanye West (808 Heartbreak)
- Adele (Hometown Glory)
- Johnny Swim I’ve been listening to their EP. “Away I Go,” is my favorite track.
Guilty pleasure food?
French fries..every single day! In an ideal setting, I’d get French fries from Mcdonald’s with sweet and sour sauce. If I don’t have the sauce..it ruins my experience.
You can’t go wrong with eyelash curlers/mascara and just Kiehls lip balm.
Dream actors/directors that you’d like to work with?
Love Cate Blanchett! She plays cool, interesting characters, strong women and makes them real. Even when doing the Malika character, I wanted her to be multi-layered, not just a strong mean girl. For different reasons, I’d love to work with the JJ Abrams of the world, who do crazy fun star trek movies, TV series. I would love to be on Mad men…writing is amazing. I think it’s just really well done, writing, character, set, clothing. I’d like to guest star on that show!
Maybe one of the producers will read this article. So, we’re an online women’s magazine… any words of inspiration of empowerment you’d like to give to any of those who are reading this interview?
I think ultimately, you have to find what brings you joy. I’m lucky that I get to do what I love for work and that pays my bills. Sometimes the process is hard, lots of disappointment, rejection in the process. I like to paint and have to paint a little bit each day. Its about finding the joy and you have to feed your soul. Women, we’re nurturers and multi-taskers. My 2 best friends are young moms, they work, they need two incomes. Women really give a lot but at the same time, in order to give well, you have to feed your soul. Give yourself joy. I’d just say that. Pray, draw, find the things that feed your soul, even if you do it for 10-15 minutes, it’ll give you that extra oomph to get through the day!!
Brooklyn, thank you for your time. Can’t wait to see what you do next!
Check out Brooklyn in “Turn the Beat Around,” on Friday Feb 26th at 10 PM on MTV.
Season 5 of MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew,” kicked off last Thursday night with four crews from the South representing their own dance styles and teamwork as they vied for a spot in the next round of competition.
Twirlit stopped by the Warner Bros. soundstage where filming for this highly anticipated dance reality show takes place, and we saw the Southern moves from Xtreme Motion, Swagger Crew, Royal Flush, and Jungle Boogie.
I talked to the Atlanta crew “Royal Flush” about how they persevered after failing four times to make it to the Hollywood auditions for the show. And I have to say, I loved their enthusiasm and positive energy. Check out the video, and to catch more of these amazing dance moves, watch the show on Thursdays at 10pm ET/PT on MTV.
MTV’s “My Life as Liz” starts off with the voice-over of angst-ridden Texas teenager Liz Lee saying “MTV made me do this.” Well, I’m sure that they didn’t force her to have her own show, but the concept of this show is refreshingly interesting. Granted, I graduated high school a while ago, but those pesky feelings of being an unpopular outsider haven’t exactly left me. I got a chance to speak with Liz Lee about our mutual distaste for Abercrombie &Fitch, the joy of not caring what people think and is this Cory Cooper person really a mean b*&*h?
How did this show come about? It’s an interesting hybrid of scripted and reality. What’s it like to star in “My Life as Liz”?
It started off in my broadcast journalism class. MTV was looking for a cast to do a spin-off of “The Paper,” so they had a posting up to answer questions on video. I just decided to do this, answer questions, and sent my tape in thinking nothing was going to happen. Then MTV came down, did an extended casting and then everything changed completely. That’s how the show got started.
So the concept of the show is that you used to be a popular girl and then senior year, everything changed? Why leave the hot clique? Most kids wait their whole lives to be popular.
So did I. I felt like I was on cloud nine to sit at the table with these popular girls. Um … I didn’t really have fun with them. I couldn’t be myself around them. One day Cory Cooper (the most popular girl in school) turned on me and she openly admits to wanting to destroy my life and be mean to me. It all started in 9th grade and me and Cory never got along. She doesn’t put it on for the cameras, she’s really that mean. She sort of just dethroned me. I just didn’t want to deal with it, and I made friends with the nerds. I decided I didn’t have to be popular and decided to just be me.
Is this really a reality show? How active are the producers in getting this show together?
The show is based on real events and relationships. Me, Troy and Miles, we are close. Me and Cory really do hate each other. People have said that we were actors. One lady said we were all actors and that the kids were always really nice. I was an outcast and it wasn’t like MTV came in and treated me differently. They didn’t try to be famous.
Interesting. So, is there diversity in your town? I mean, I watched a couple episodes and I don’t see any at all.
It’s a white-bread town in Texas. There are rednecks, hillbillies and there are like five African-American students that graduated. I just never saw them around. There are some Mexicans and its not a really diverse town. In a bubble — it’s so weird to live in Manhattan now. We have BBQ, we have fried chicken, and then to come here … restaurants and stuff.
There was a recent report that young people spend 7.5 hours per day online or using their phone, etc., how many hours are you online? Facebook? Twitter? Do you and your friends watch TV and movies online or on TV?
Umm, we’re pretty active online. We all have internet phones. Most of the time I think we twitter a lot because of the show! We can reach a bunch of people at once. Its a really awesome tool to keep in contact with the fans.
I love your character’s openness. Is it strange to be so open? Do you think that being a teenage girl is harder than ever with Facebook and every random blog where people can anonymously post rude things?
I try not to read too much of it. You know, it’s pretty crazy what people can say about you online. They can say some hurtful things. Me and Sully always say…haters gonna hate. We just live by that and accept it.
You’re pretty self-aware for a teenage girl. Any plans to pursue acting or the world of entertainment in the future?
I don’t know about acting. It’s not really a goal of mine. I don’t know how to play anyone else. If there are roles for nerdy chicks with Star Wars and sneakers though, I’d be good at that.
This show is really angsty. Are you the new Angela from “My So-Called Life”? Do you like being the poster-child for that angry outsider girl?
I love Juno and Daria and almost feel honored. It’s the weirdest thing ever. Crazy, not sure if I’ll ever be used to that.
Tell us something no one knows about you. A weird quirk? Style? Abercrombie to Urban Outfitters?
Pretty much all out there. A&F, I bought it because it was cool. Just a bunch of tans, grays and it was boring. After I dropped out of the popular crowd, there was no reason to keep buying from there. Everyone dresses like that at my high school.
Abercrombie sucks. So, Hills or Jersey Shore?
Jersey Shore. Snookie is the most entertaining!
Got any advice for any outcast, angsty teenager out there who doesn’t fit in at school?
Stick it through. Nerds get the last laugh because I feel, like my parents always said, “Don’t be mean to the nerds because they’ll be the boss one day.” We’re the silent majority. Once you get out of high school, it’s such a big world. High school is such a small fishbowl. They have so much to look forward to!
Ain’t that the truth. Thanks for talking to us, Liz. And if you’d like to channel your inner geek girl, check out “My Life as Liz,” on MTV every Monday night or at MTV.com.
From the same network that brings you the lives of the rich and frivolous in “The Hills” and, of course, the tanned antics of “Jersey Shore,” comes a new show about four guys who are not only trying to achieve things off their “What Do You Want to Do Before You Die” list, but are also spreading goodwill along the way.
You may have seen the commercials, ads, or billboards for MTV’s “The Buried Life,” where Duncan, Ben, Jonnie, and Dave created a concept of not only trying to find purpose for themselves by playing basketball with President Obama, visiting the Playboy mansion, kissing Megan Fox, participating in a Krump competition, but also helping to deliver a baby and helping strangers achieve something from their lists.
These four guys made a promise to themselves that for every goal they achieve on their list, they would help a stranger do something on theirs. I talked to Duncan and Ben about what it took to really unearth “The Buried Life.”
Duncan and Ben, great to talk to you guys. Tell us about yourselves and how did this idea of “The Buried Life” begin?
BEN: Duncan and I are 25, Jonnie and Dave are 23, and we’re all from Victoria, Canada. We started this project in 2006 and we were going through what a lot of kids our age go through. You get to a point when you graduate college and you have no idea what’s next. We were searching for purpose and came up with this question, “What do you want to do before you die?”
DUNCAN: So, we bought a camera, worked random jobs and called companies to get sponsors to fund this project. And then it all started happening from there.
I read the NY Times article that mentioned “The Buried Life,” saying that this show represents the changing tide of MTV’s viewers in the age of Obama. What did you guys first think when you found yourselves on the front page of one of the most respected news sites in the world?
BEN: Very humbled, surprised, excited. We waited a long time to find a partner that would let us have creative control. We didn’t want to give that up. I mean, we directed, produced, edited, and chose the music for “The Buried Life.”
DUNCAN: When we saw ourselves on the NY Times, it was very cool because we felt like everyone would ask themselves that question just because of that article. That’s what we wanted to do, get everyone thinking about it.
Between the current dire situation in Haiti and our nation’s current unemployment rate, it seems as though we’re all searching for inspiration and hope more than ever. Do you think your show taps into that? How can the average person be inspired by “The Buried Life.”
BEN: Great question. Hopefully it’ll be easy to inspire anyone who watches because we’re just four regular guys and we had no ambition to start a TV show. It was just something to cross off our list, but it was never the original intent.
DUNCAN: I think that people will see that we do everything on our own and that anybody can do these things. We ended up doing lots of crazy things that people told us that we could never do because we just went for it. Hopefully they’ll see a lot of themselves in us.
Going back to that, young people are in the worst shape when it comes to the unemployment rate because companies seem to be focusing on keeping their current employees who already have experience. Yet you guys have done something really different by going against the grain. What words of advice would you give to a young person out there who doesn’t want to work a nine to five and has a dream/goal that seems impossible?
BEN: I think one of the biggest things to do to move forward is to share your ambitions or dreams, whatever they may be. Don’t keep your goals inside because that was really helpful for us. We thought about doing this and kept asking ourselves, well, why don’t we do them? We started telling people about it and people started helping us. They came through and helped us all the way, whatever. That was really surprising to us because we didn’t expect that people would just reach out and help so much. Also, persistence. Just don’t give up because a lot of people give up just before they break through so I’d say never give up on what you want.
DUNCAN: That’s reflected in all these items on our list because a lot of people will say, that’s impossible. Sometimes you don’t know. You fail the first, second time, and we just kept going. It was our third try to try to get into someone’s wedding and give a toast.
So, what are some of the craziest things that you crossed off your list of “Things I want to do before I die?” What are you STILL looking to cross off? And seriously, you guys got to play basketball with President Obama? What was that like, and did you get past him to score a basket?
DUNCAN: The craziest was probably Playboy mansion and just the audacity of our plan to get in. The probability of disaster was so high, so that was the craziest one. Delivering a baby was crazier than we thought it was. As for playing basketball with Obama, you have to stay tuned for that one. We can’t give anything away, but people will be really surprised.
BEN: The one we’re still looking to do is number 100, “go to space.” We also want to tell a judge, “You can’t handle the truth.”
Haha. You guys are CRAZY. So, does it get really stinky on that bus with four guys? And, do you have girlfriends? If so, what do they think about your efforts?
DUNCAN: It gets dirtier rather than stinkier because our costumes and stuff go everywhere with us. As for the girls question, this is the first time that we’re all single at the same time. By the way, do you know where the name of “Buried Life” came from?
NOPE. Tell us.
BEN: We tried to figure out a name for the concept of this show. Jonnie read this poem in English class by Matthew Arnold called “The Buried Life,” and it resonated with us. It speaks to the same feeling we had about how our daily lives can become so cumbersome. We all have this longing to live this buried life of purpose.
I’m inspired. So, did you ever in a million years think that you’d be where you are right now? How does it feel to stick to your guns about your show and not compromise?
DUNCAN: We never really started out with this desire. #53 — we were supposed to make a show in 2007. Then they told us that they wanted all the control, but we had a vision for it. Like Ben said earlier, we wanted it a certain way and when we partnered with MTV, they liked that it was real. That we’re just four regular guys. So in our partnership, we edit, choose music, are co-exec producers on the show — we’re part of it, and that’s really important for us.
Any last words, and what projects are you currently working on?
BEN: We have this goal to help build soccer fields in Africa and we partnered with a company that says that if we get 75,000 members on MTV’s “Buried Life” Facebook, they’re gonna fund a soccer field. We’d love it if you could help us out by joining to help these kids.
Serious? In that case, HERE’S A LINK TO MTV’S BURIED LIFE FACEBOOK. And check out the series premiere of MTV’s “Buried Life,” January 18 at 10PM ET/PT.
January 21, 2010 in hollywood
MTV is not exactly known for their musical rotation anymore. No, this cable network is more likely to be airing the drama between Kristin Cavallari and Audrina Patridge from “The Hills,” or, of course, the tanned, juiced-up antics of “Jersey Shore,” which has caused much uproar and simultaneous love from viewers. But this network does air a few shows that I continue to watch, one of which is the “True Life” series, where you can take a peek into the lives of young people facing anything from eating disorders to addiction to those struggling with financial issues.
And, of course, the more recent “16 and Pregnant,” docu-series which took us into the lives of Catelynn, Farrah, Amber, and Maci, teenage girls who let us see the hardships that go along with being super-young and pregnant. “Teen Mom” continues the story of these girls as they deal with adoption, school, parents and relationship issues, and it definitely doesn’t glamorize the realities and responsibilities of being a young mother.
I recently spoke with Catelynn, who spent her Junior year pregnant with her daughter, Carly. She and her boyfriend Tyler chose a semi-open adoption where they are able to communicate regularly with Carly’s adoptive parents, Brandon and Teresa. Though their parents disapprove of their decision, Catelynn and Tyler are dealing with the everyday reality of their decision.
Catelynn, really great to speak with you. So where are you from? And tell us a little bit about you, your favorite movies, TV shows, music — are you on Facebook obsessively?
I’m from Michigan and I love Pink. Instead of Facebook, I’m on MySpace, and I’m a normal teenager. I hang out with friends, love movies, go to school, go to bonfires.
Cool. So, how did you get involved with being on the show “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom”?
Well, MTV contacted my adoption agency and they were looking for girls who were 16, pregnant, and in their 3rd trimester. Then I made a video, got chosen by the producers, did the show “16 and pregnant” and decided to do “Teen Mom.”
Did you ever think that you’d be a young mother, and how difficult was it to decide to give Carly up for adoption? Has it gotten easier for you and Tyler over time?
I never thought I’d become pregnant. I really thought, “It would never happen to me.” It was definitely really hard going through the process of putting my daughter up for adoption. Me and Tyler have days when we miss her a ton, but we’ve been doing really good. It gets easier. We do have a semi-open adoption so we can get updates on her.
You’ve gone through pregnancy, and giving up your baby for adoption, all on national TV — is it weird to see your personal life displayed on TV and the Internet?
It’s weird at first, after seeing the commercials, but mostly it’s a cool experience because it let me put my story out there. I’m used to it now.
Do you think that you’re setting a good example out there for girls younger than you?
I do, because in my situation, I had to do what was best for my child. I can make something good come out of it. There are other options out there — its a good option. You have to think about what is best for your kid.
Very true. The USA had the highest rate of teen pregnancy and teen birth in the developed world. Why do you think that is?
I don’t think parents are talking to their kids about sex. I mean, we were never taught about birth control and prevention. Girls won’t have sex with condoms because the guys don’t like it, and that’s the truth. You’re taking a risk every time you have sex. I think there needs to be more education about this in school. Sex-Ed is sort of glossed over because they don’t talk about other options.
Do you think that the popular movie “Juno” glamorized teen pregnancy? What do you want to tell the young girls about what it’s really like to be a teen mom?
I mean, some things were the same — telling your parents, the awkwardness, but some of it wasn’t. They didn’t go into detail about the bad stuff. How you feel alone, stressful, parents freak out at you, and they made it more funny than serious.
Do you keep in contact with the other girls on the show? Maci, Amber or Farrah?
I talk to Maci sometimes, but not the other girls.
You’re a high school senior now, any plans for college? What do you ultimately want to do with your life?
Personally, after I graduate, I want to go to Community College and want to be a nurse in a maternity ward. I want to work with children. I definitely want to work while I’m in college.
For more on Catelynn and to watch clips from MTV’s “Teen Mom,” go to MTV.com or watch the show on MTV every Tuesday night at 10 PM PT/ET.
I re-watched this video because of this wonderful thing called Online video viewing. I seriously don’t think I’ve watched TV in a month because I’m all about watching TV’s and movies online. And the theater of course
Anyway, this episode of MTV’s “Made,”I Want to Be a Rapper,” shows Colin, a slightly geeky history-lover who loves words but can’t flow. He wants to be a rapper…and perform at his semi-formal dance. OMG…love this episode!!!
(LOVE THE PARENTS RESPONSE…”Colin, I’m skeptical.” “His chances of becoming a ballerina are probably higher.”)