With the pleasures of solitary reading under attack by social reading websites and book clubs, Last Gasp Productions is pitching a new reality show, Meet the Readers.
Reality shows are only nominally about their subject. They are mini-dramas, each episode with something at stake and intra-group conflict that will be resolved - for the time being - by story’s end.
The premise for Meet the Readers is deceptively simple: A disparate group of book lovers is marooned in Malibu, forced to live together in a small, cozy villa overlooking the Pacific, the washer and dryer kaput. The group is a mix of two teens, two young adults, two middle-agers, and two seniors.
Watch the pages fan fast and furiously as the house-and-reading mates try to decide on a book to read in common! The Great Responsive Reading Fiasco! When 17 year-old Stan Marks and 87 year-old Selma Disckind bridge their seventy-year age difference to conspire against Marla, a 26 year old model and aspiring porn actress, and Bill, an accountant with an unrequited passion for romance novels! Stan and Selma sneaking off together for a private reading session on the beach, dos-à-dos!
Watch this book club with a reading problem transform before your very eyes into a booze club with a drinking problem. See body scans and strip-searches for hidden weapons i.e. razor-edged bookmarks, miniature books fashioned into kohga ninja throwing stars, and cat’s eye-framed reading glasses, corners sharpened to deadly points.
Each week, viewers can see for themselves that book readers, far from being passive, socially awkward geeks, are, in reality (at least, this reality) fiercely ambitious, social-climbing, active participants in this thing we call Life - as we understand it on television.
Loathe though I am to give away the ending for the first season, I must lest my head explode: A battle-royal occurs, and Denise, the lonely and dizzy real estate agent with an unquenchable thirst for self-help books, is the last reader standing - in a cozy nook, all by herself, a copy of Sun-Tzu’s The Art of War in one hand, a dirty martini in the other, and a Cheshire Cat smile on her face.
Auditions for next season are currently in progress. Aspiring TV-readers will be asked, “What would you do if you had to read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey while waiting for the anti-depressants to kick in?”
Suicide, my inside source tells me, is the optimal answer, with huge potential for dramatic jeopardy; must-see TV at its finest. Slit your wrist, you're in.