The Makeup of Reality TV

05/22/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Somewhere along the line, the distinction between reality shows, reality television and news has become incredibly blurred. I work with news figures each and every day, and in the makeup room I frequently have on a television that scans across the various networks. Honestly, I'm in the business and sometimes can't make sense of it all. Today there are over 40 reality television shows, and that does not even include one single cable news show.

I think reality television probably started with shows like Cops, where we got a behind the scenes look at the life of law enforcement officers and the craziness they contend with everyday-and from there, it went down hill. We went to The Peoples Court and then Judge Judy and all of the "Judge" shows that still haunt our airwaves, although with considerable success.

Today we have shows about who loses the most weight, whose house needs to be redecorated, who gets lost, who survives, who should be the next model, who should be the next makeup artist, who should no longer be a bachelor, and the list is never ending. I don't want to come across as a reality show snob because I'm not. Some of it is pretty entertaining. I like The Undercover Boss. And there is nothing like watching Gordon Ramsay go psychotic in the kitchen. Donald Trump basically calling Rod Blagojevich a liar on The Celebrity Apprentice is classic Donald and was absolutely priceless. Besides, at least Trump's show benefits numerous charities from the spectacle of other reality stars and or judges participating in another reality show. (I do have do disclose some personal bias here: my friend Kelly Perdew was the winner of The Apprentice in Season Two. For you Apprentice fans who may not know, Kelly and his wife Dawn just had beautiful twins in December!). But then again, a former disgraced Governor on a reality television show? How bizarre is that? (Yes, I have seen former Governor Jesse Ventura's show which takes reality television to an almost extraterrestrial dimension.)

Then came the entertainment reality shows like Star Search and everything that they spawned including today's blockbusters American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. These shows in particular show the power, both pro and con of HDTV when it comes to contestants. It is amazing to watch how the contestants transform or almost morph during the course of these shows. With Dancing with the Stars, the metamorphous is the result of the extensive physical workouts of the contestants. But the hairstylists and makeup artists have a huge impact on both the men and the women, not only on their faces, but on their, arms, hands, legs and abdomens. Yes, all of those parts get make up too. Especially with HDTV. In American Idol, the makeup artists are trying to define different looks and moods for each performer based upon their wardrobe and the songs that they will be performing.

Of course, the real reality television has been the emergence of cable news. This year, CNN will be celebrating thirty years on air (I was there from the beginning), and it cannot be disputed that Ted Turner changed the way we live. This week we have seen intense coverage regarding the vote on the health care bill. All of the cable news outlets have been reporting, some performing, their own version of today's real reality tv: Cable News.

And believe it or not makeup artists actually impact the cable news you hear. Crazy? Well, no. Guests appearing on cable news shows can either be made to feel comfortable or uncomfortable immediately before they go on air, and there is no one who gets closer to the newsmakers and pundits then the makeup artists. Politicians, pundits, world leaders and entertainers whom you would think would be fully secure before airtime sometimes display a tremendous amount of anxiety before their segment begins. Without intending to toot my own horn, many have told me what a difference it makes to them to have a good makeup artist in helping get across their message by making them feel more relaxed. Adding to the pressure is the fact that that live television makeup artists only have a few minutes to prepare individuals for air, as opposed to the endless hours available for the participants in other reality tv programming-and sometimes, the canvas you are given to work with can be somewhat challenging.

P.S. Variety is now reporting that one of the Tiger Woods mistresses will be doing a reality show. Are there no really no limits to reality tv? I also just saw reported that Sarah Palin is negotiating for a deal of $1 million per week for a reality show on A & E. Did I mention earlier in this blog how bizarre it is that a former Governor is on a reality show?? Déjà vu.