Saturday, April 19, 2008

Is MTV’s ‘The Paper’ fact or fiction?

After laughing through the premiere episode of MTV’s "The Paper" this week, a few red flags were raised while watching what seems like one of the network’s not-so-real reality shows like "Laguna Beach" and "The Hills."

Back in 2007, MTV held an open casting call looking for video submissions from students willing to give the inside scoop from their newspaper office, including their responsibilities at the paper, what interests them about the news as well as important stuff like who they’re dating.

As a former editor-in-chief from Florida, I hate to admit that I identified with Amanda Lorber’s supposed real-life caricature of a high school overachiever. When she says, "Journalists are the most important part of the world. They really are," I cracked up because, well, that could’ve been a quote pulled from my journal back in the day.

However, is this show for real? While you can find the editor’s cheeky column online here, Lorber comes across in "The Paper" more like an Andrea Zuckerman archetype from "Beverly Hills 90210" and less like a real high school editor.

After checking out the Cypress Bay High School Web site in Weston, Fla. they list The Circuit on their homepage. In fact, you can read articles from the paper’s archives here where they confirm all of the staffers featured in the MTV reality show, including Lorber.

My question: Where are the archives of The Circuit prior to Sept. 2007? According to the premiere episode, Lorber was the copy editor during the '06-'07 school year before MTV started filming but the paper's online archive doesn't reflect this backstory. (Note: After posting this blog, the old site is accessible here.)

According to an article in Broadcasting & Cable, The Circuit "won several local journalism accolades including awards from the Florida Scholastic Press Association and the Sun-Sentinel’s 'best overall' award in 2004 and 2005."

While the history of the paper checks out, it still seems a little fishy to me. The whole thing gets creepier after reading comments from the staff here where they state over and over that "The Paper" is no "Laguna Beach" and that it's 100 percent real. Um, OK.

Cypress Bay is a real high school. In fact, it’s one of the largest schools in the country. But I wouldn’t be surprised if MTV did some creative casting by shipping in a few students from across the country to manufacture some made-for-TV drama for "The Paper."

Meanwhile, get the inside scoop on the show here. "The Paper" airs 10:30 p.m. Mondays on MTV.

UPDATE: Compared to last week’s premiere, tonight's episode came across a bit more "real" except for Lorber’s disillusioned soliloquies and "Eye of the Tiger" sing-along. The editor talks about how she had a crush on Alex, the managing editor, back in Hebrew school which gives some backstory.

However, "The Paper" still comes across eerily contrived and, well, scripted.

UPDATE 2: Amanda Lorber from "The Paper" is off to NYU, but she’s not looking to capitalize on her MTV fame. Lorber tells NYU's Washington Square News, “I want to have a fresh start, and I want to be kind of a normal student, not that girl who was on an MTV reality show.” (Washington Square News)


Anonymous said...

Just a note to let you know that these kids are "real" and have been around for a while. My son has known them all since middle school and some from even preschool. Yes, I would admit that they did pick the most animated to appear as main characters but who could blame them! I think the show is a bit boring unless you know these people like we do. Thanx for the blog...

Anonymous said...

have to agree, there are times where i doubt about the realness of the show. let's see what happens, at least it;s a lot more "educational" than the hills and laguna beach. hope mtv continues to approach reality tv through shows like these, where at least kids are trying to do something productive.

Anonymous said...

I go to Cypress Bay and Im good friends with Amanda, Dan and the rest of The Paper staff. This show is real, and Amanda's personality is not fake. Just because an amazingly passionate and unique bunch of kids were chosen for this show doesn't mean it is fake.
And by the way, we are THE largest high school in America.

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, the MTV publicity whores are at it again. These ANONYMOUS self-proclaimed "real friends" of these charatcers on the show -- like those who swear The Hills, Laguna, etc. are real -- are publicists and producers (and probably some low-paid PAs) of the show itself, whose job consists partly of going to websites like this one and posting "real" testimonials. Sure the kids on the show "exist." Maybe some of them actually went to the school at some point. But they are actors all, and the show is as phony as a 3-dollar bill. Peoples are dumb.

Anonymous said...

Hello there,

My name is Andrea and I'd like to say that I am not from MTV -- I graduated from Cypress Bay High School in 2006. My class was the first class to have a "full stay" at Cypress Bay, meaning we were the first to spend all four years at "The Bay." Yes, our school is huge -- the largest in the country, as a previous poster stated. And about the archives: I don't know how often they published the paper when I was in school, but I believe they do it more often now (once a month, I think). They've probably just begun putting the papers online, but I remember the paper printing all four years, just not as often.
Is the show contrived? I'm pretty sure it's not (unfortunately). I agree that it seems like it is, but we must all understand that MTV is going to cut and paste the interesting parts of their lives and make a show out of it, making the episodes less "real" than a viewer would expect. However, what I am sure of is that these kids have all been in newspaper since their freshman year. I personally know Amanda, Alex and Adam (though I can only speak positive of the last two), and though they are represented in a very contrived way, we are, in fact, witnessing a glimpse into one aspect of their character. Adam is dramatic and always has been, though he truly is a sweetheart, and I've never seen Alex reflected in such a conflicting way; he's always been a great guy to me (I was once very close with his older sister Carly). Amanda? Well, I won't go too deep into the relationship between her and I, but from personal experience, I can tell you all that she is not the greatest of people. Don't let her fool you as she plays the friendless victim, as she is neither.
Though I truly love my high school and all the great things it did for me, I have to say I'm a bit embarrassed sometimes to see it on television portrayed in such a way. I wish I could say the show isn't real, but at Cypress Bay, we're all drama queens searching for our spotlight in the midst of more than 5,000 others.

Anonymous said...

Whoever wrote the 4th comment: you are an idiot. I suggest you come to our graduation on June 3rd to watch Alex, Amanda, Dan, Cassia, Giana AND Trevor walk across the stage before you voice your opinion on whether they actually attend The Bay. The show is not phony, everything actually happened and I witnessed it first hand. Every member of the cast has gone to Cypress for all four years of high school, and I'd be happy to e-mai lyou copies of the yearbooks.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot Adam. (^) Who could forget Adam??

Your Ad Here