Monday, June 23, 2014

Fake Reality? ABC Rising Star Talent Competition's "Surprise" Instagram Contestant Macy Kate Came to the Show Already Repped By a Major Talent Agency and Worked with Ludacris Producers

So, tonight I watched the premiere of ABC's new talent show, Rising Star...

And I'm crying "Foul!!!"

So foul, in fact, that I'm writing this post directly into Blogger instead of writing a draft first like I usually do.

Did the producers think no one would notice that the "surprise" Instagram contestant from the audience (Macy Kate) looked considerably more polished and put together for TV than the other audience members?

That was the first thing I noticed: unlike the audience members around her, Macy Kate had obviously been brushed and currycombed like a prized show pony.

"I wonder if she's insurance in case the amateur contestants fall apart..." I thought to myself. 

Then later in the show, we're shown her obviously expensive, pro-shot music video "Instagram Audition" entry that supposedly "won" her a place on the show. Even host Josh Groban commented on the obvious professionalism of it. Hmmm...

"I guess she could have Kickstartered it," I said aloud to my sis, trying to find some benefit of doubt left for the 16-year old contestant. (Ragging on an adult is one thing. This is a teenager, after all.)

Still, it looked a little pricey for a Kickstarter video. Maybe her parents were off the charts wealthy? Or maybe she used to be signed to a label that dropped a bunch of artists in a merger? She did look kind of familiar, and dropped artists appear on talent competitions all the time. (Rules usually state that you can't be "currently" repped).

Or, maybe she's actually a current client of Paradigm Talent Agency, a major talent agency in Beverly Hills.

If you're not familiar with Paradigm, while they're less-talked about than they once were thanks to mergers that turned William Morris into the now-behemoth WME, Paradigm is still big, and their huge roster boasts some current hotshots, as well as legends. (Ed Sheeran, Toby Keith, Solange, The Lumineers, Stevie Nicks, and Aerosmith all come to mind.)

Paradigm also has on its roster at least one American Idol alum: Taylor Hicks. As it happens, Rising Star Executive Producer Ken Warwick also executive produces Idol.

Did the show not stop to think that while we have our devices in our hands ready to vote with the Rising Star app, we're also Googling the contestants--especially the ones we suspect are seasoned pros?

Did the show not realize that before we'd even finished wondering aloud about the pro-shot video, we already knew Macy Kate is on the Paradigm roster, repped by a fairly well-known booking agent, has recorded with Sean Kingston, has a You Tube partnership with Sony/ATV,  and has endorsements for Uber,  Samsung, Jewel Mint, and others? 

(While we're at it, is she 16 or 17? Rising Star and Macy Kate's talent agency can't quite seem to agree.)

And wait a minute...What's this?

According to her agency website Macy Kate "is currently working with" Rock City, the songwriting /production duo, who's worked with a host former Idol winners, and major artists...

...including--ta da--Rising Star judge Ludacris.

Wow. Just wow.

At least judge Brad Paisley said he and contestant Sarah Darling have mutual friends...

That, I'd actually expect and would be OK with: Sarah Darling's been kicking around Nashville since moving there straight out of high school. She's now 31 and was signed to a label at one point but got dropped. Nashville's a pretty tight clique, but if you've been around long enough and have been working your butt off all that time, you're probably going to be just a couple of degrees of separation from most people in the industry there. If you do it right, that's how the business works.

So, that didn't bother me enough to Google.

Besides, by then, there was already enough to make me question the validity of this "reality" competition that I didn't need to. A currently repped contestant was more than enough for me to cry foul. 

Anybody got a copy of the rules for this thing?

And is it just me, or are "reality" shows starting to get really sloppy about details?

Edited to Add: I Googled Sarah Darling, and she had a single that went to #34 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart two years ago. She's also a regular performer at the Grand Ole Opry.

P.S. Macy Kate is a apparently a veteran of other shows on the "Reality" Competition Show circuit. None of this is her fault, by the way. She's very talented. But whomever's advising her seems to have a lack of foresight and creativity. If they're trying to work a publicity angle, it's the wrong one. She's a teenager, people. [Shaking My Head...]

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