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Is Reality TV Scripted? ‘Wipeout’ Host John Henson Says No, It’s Magic


We all remember the television writers strike of 2007-2008 that gave us months of reruns. It was caused by the Writers Guild of America protesting studios for making reality television without writers. Studios got around paying writers their union-demanded wage by calling them “editors” and “producers.” Does that still happen to today? John Henson, famous for “Talk Soup” and “Wipeout,” said it does not. There are no writers in reality television, the script is improvised with magic.

98.3 The Key host Big Jim, a big fan of “Wipeout,” asked, “Is it scripted at all… or is it just all off the cuff as you guys are talking about those contestants?” Henson replied:

Well, ha ha, well, I think the union might have something to say about this, and I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, but if you watch the show, you’ll realize that almost non-stop punchlines for 60 minutes… the action moves so fast we don’t even really have time for a set up. It’s kind of just punchline, punchline, punchline, and that didn’t happen by accident. But the Writer’s Guild maintains that, uh, that reality shows don’t have writers, we have producers. I’ll let you guys do the math on that and just say, ‘Maybe John Anderson and I just magically improvise seamless wall-to-wall comedy for 60 minutes each week.’

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