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Barry Levinson Headshot

Reality Congress -- Future Ratings Hit

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It came to me like a bolt of lightning. A eureka moment. I was watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and reading about sequestration at the same time when this amazing idea came into my head. How to fix a broken Congress, solve our debt issues, and have some interesting new TV.

I was euphoric! Here is the pitch. That's what they say in the TV world.

TV Producer: "We take the reality TV concept, the Housewives shows, Honey Boo Boo, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Duck Dynasty, and you know so many more... and we set it in the world of Congress! Forget C-Span. Old-fashioned. Boring. And they don't even have commercials for god's sake. They have cameras, but no one is in the Chamber. Senators and Congressmen haven't been there since Mr. Smith went to Washington. We set the show not in the Chamber, but the back hallways, the offices, restaurants, bars, in their cars...Think the new Netflix show House of Cards, but even more real and raw. Our democracy spinning out of control. Dysfunctional. Broken."

TV Exec: "Kevin Spacey. He was perfect for that."

TV Producer: "But this is a reality show...with a little dramatic help from us."

TV Exec: "But what about hope? We need hope."

TV Producer: "Plenty of hope. Absolutely. We pray the country survives and these men and women work to destroy and save it 24/7."

TV Exec: "Heroes and villains."

TV Producer: "Yes! And sometimes the heroes can be villains and vice versa. Keeps it fresh. Rand Paul at home, having dinner, the phone rings. His wife: 'Rand, how odd. No one calls during dinner.' Rand Paul goes to the phone. He hears bad news. He gets an inside tip...That Congress is close to passing a bill that will cost the country great sums of money. 'Hold on, I am having dinner with my family, lets meet in five minutes.' In the car he angrily screams on his cell phone 'I will kill any opposition bill, whatever it is, unless THIS spending bill is killed.'

"He is so angry he runs a traffic light. Almost hits a car. He slams on the breaks, breathes heavily. Commercial break."

TV Exec: "I get the picture. Tension, patriotic beliefs, and renegade behavior, but what about a little humor?"

TV Producer: "The humor is built in. They say funny things all the time, and they don't know it. That's what makes it really funny. And here is the bonus! Not only are we making money off the show, Congress gets a cut as well. It will reduce the deficit! It's a win win. Any member of Congress who doesn't want to participate in the show is branded as being in opposition to paying down the debt. They will be begging to be part of the show."

TV Exec: "Brilliant. It makes us look good. It's not all about profits."

TV Producer: "And think about the merchandising aspects. John Boehner has his own tanning products, and we get a cut. Nancy Pelosi skin creams and hair products...and we get a cut. Mitch McConnell's old man tie line... probably won't be a big seller but: we get a cut."

TV Exec: "A cut is always good."

TV Producer: "The possibilities are endless. Now here is the big plus. We actually help Congress, help our democracy!"

TV Exec. "How?"

The Producer: "Democrats and Republicans don't meet much anymore. Very little interaction. Because of this show, they have to meet. It will give us the conflicts..."

TV Exec: "I don't follow, why do they have to meet?"

TV Producer: "Because if they don't, they don't get the TV time. They become bit players. No one wants to be a bit player. How do they explain that to their constituency back home? Everyone wants to be a star. They'll be breaking down doors to get into these meetings. Camera time, everyone wants camera time! And the bigger they get, they go on a Andy Cohen-like thing. He's on Bravo. Does a great job. Great with the questions of 'why did you do that?' It is never harsh. It's done in fun, and the audience calls in... it's just so entertaining. It sort of doesn't condemn bad behavior. Everyone has a good time."

TV Exec: "It sounds very interesting. Let me get my ducks in a row..."

TV Producer: "Don't think too long. Bravo is already interested. It could work with Vanderpump Rules. And even NBC is thinking about jumping in. The past year was a disaster for them. It could be a perfect fit right after The Voice. In fact they are thinking of stripping it, five nights a week. Reality Congress. It's the next big thing."