Reality intrudes yet again - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Reality intrudes yet again

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Mark J. Scarp is a contributing columnist for the Tribune. Reach him at

Posted: Saturday, June 25, 2011 6:15 am | Updated: 1:24 pm, Fri Jul 22, 2011.

If after reading the local news lately you’ve had the desire to tell some people in the East Valley to get real, well, it’s probably a good thing as we’re getting the attention of the reality-show people.

In Scottsdale, they’re taking another stab at a TV show about the look-at-me-my-parents-gave-me-money crowd that poses and squirms through the boutiques, the nightclub district and the resort bars.

And, on the opposite side of the romance globe, where the object is not being an object but is matrimony, the Web series “The Mormon Bachelorette” starts its third season Friday with Mesa’s own Ashley Chapman. Chapman, selected from 14 contestants, will date several young Mormon men from a list of 22 before making her choice.

The Scottsdale show, which is only in the casting stages, has the working title “Hot Desert Nights.” According to the casting people’s press release, the stars are to be Nik Richie, known to locals as the man who runs the gossip blog, and his actress wife, Shayne Lamas, who a few years ago was the successful contestant on ABC’s “The Bachelor,” but didn’t marry the featured bachelor.

She married Richie in 2010. The press release issued by the casting company — the same group that cast “Jersey Shore” — says they see Scottsdale as the next Las Vegas or South Beach. (Meaning someone’s going to come up with “The Scottsdale Diet.”)

What an admirable thing to which a city might aspire. The folks at Mesa City Hall have got to be happy they dodged this bullet.

Now, the last time someone in TV envisioned Scottsdale as the next Sin City was in 2008, when CBS briefly broadcast “The Tuesday Night Book Club” (it was canceled after two episodes). It was about attractive Scottsdale women who are members of a book discussion group but have, let’s just say, other interests. Scottsdale itself wasn’t that prominent in it as it focused more on indoor activities – you know, such as reading books. Yes, I know you’re kicking yourself for missing it.

And there was the 1987 comedy “Raising Arizona,” which starred Holly Hunter as a Tempe police officer who lived in a trailer in the middle of a huge tract of flat desert, something Tempe hasn’t had for decades.

At least those were fiction. Sometimes reality TV is the beginning of all-too-real problems for all-too-real people.

In 2005, the Okvath family of Gilbert was given a big, beautiful, expensive house from ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” But the costs of maintaining a 5,000-plus-square-foot home loomed quite large for the grateful parents, whose daughter’s treatment for cancer first caught the attention of the show’s producers.

A few years later the house was put on the market.

What’s often popularly portrayed by reality television as an enviable existence comes with asterisks. Surprise-benefit shows like “Home Edition” aren’t the only examples.

Commercials for casinos and lotteries featuring giddy winners swimming in money don’t tell you of the shockingly high number of lottery winners who blow through all their bonanzas and often end up worse off financially than before.

Certainly, such people approached the lottery thinking that if they won, they weren’t going to end up like that. They did anyway.

Or, money problems could strike frugal people such as the Okvaths, who couldn’t pay the upkeep on the home ABC gave them.

Ashley Chapman deserves our best wishes, even admiration. She’s looking for a husband, and is willing to go through a gauntlet of social situations to get one, all in front of an Internet audience.

Although such a prize can be as difficult to keep as a bagful of cash or a free house, a mate can be far easier to hold onto than fame and being the center of attention, which is the social high-wire act that would face participants on “Hot Desert Nights.”

As those of us who live in the East Valley know, hot desert nights are always followed by much cooler desert mornings, where the rising sun in your eyes signals your starting to remember exactly what you were doing last night.

• Mark J. Scarp ( is a Tribune contributing columnist who appears on Sundays.

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