If you haven’t heard by now, “Megan Wants A Millionaire” contestant Ryan Jenkins has committed suicide in a motel room in Canada. The murder of his wife, model Jasmine Fiore, really shook the reality show and brought an air of tragedy and controversy into the world.
It’s not the first time in the history of television, that controversy and tragedy comes from reality TV. I give you the Top Ten Reality TV Tragedies and Controversies.
1. Ralf Panitz was convicted of murdering his ex-wife after they clashed in a typically tempestuous episode of “The Jerry Springer Show” which aired in 2000. During the show, titled “Secret Mistresses”, Panitz and his new partner accused Nancy Campbell-Panitz of stalking them. She agreed to appear because she believed her husband wanted a reconciliation, but was booed and mocked by the studio audience.
2. Lie detectors are a staple of many chat shows, but the producers of Australian radio’s “Kyle and Jackie O Show” pushed the boundaries by strapping a vulnerable 14-year-old to a polygraph and quizzing the girl about her love life. Her revelation that she was raped at the age of 12, and disc jockey Kyle Sandilands’s indelicate handling of the news, sparked a public outcry. The breakfast show was suspended but returned to air on August 18th.
3. Jonathan Schmitz agreed to an appearance on “The Jenny Jones Show” to meet a secret admirer. He went into a rage when he found out his admirer was a male friend, Scott Amedure. Schmitz shot Amedure with a gun he just purchased, claiming that the man wouldn’t “leave him alone day and night.” The Amedure family sued Warner Brothers and was awarded a $25 million settlement. It was said by Schmitz that show producers made it sound like his crush was actually a woman.
4. Former guests on “The Jeremy Kyle Show” have featured in a number of court cases. In 2007, a judge condemned Britain’s most popular daytime talk show as “a human form of bear baiting” after fining David Staniforth for headbutting his love rival Larry Mahoney on set. The judge added, “The people responsible for this â€“ namely the producers â€“ should in my opinion be in the dock with you.”
5. The alleged sexual assault of a young female contestant was broadcast live on the web by Australian Big Brother in 2006. The incident, which was never shown on television, provoked outrage from women’s groups and John Howard, who was then prime minister, called for the show to be taken off the air. Michael Cox, 20, and Michael Bric, 21, were thrown out of the house and questioned by police, but no charges were brought.
6. Producers of Spanish show “Patricia’s Diary” were not aware of Ricardo Antonio Navarro’s record of domestic violence when they invited him to propose to his former girlfriend live on air in 2007. Svetlana Orlova turned down the marriage request; five days later he stabbed her to death, apparently unable to deal with the humiliation. It later emerged that she had been beaten by Navarro for years, and even had a court order requiring him to stay away from her.
7. Sree Dasari, a contestant in this year’s Big Brother 10, slashed his wrists after being evicted from the house to a chorus of boos. The University of Hertfordshire student, who was ridiculed for his attempts to seduce fellow contestant Noirin Kelly, was watching an episode of the show when he became upset. Channel 4 was criticized for letting him appear on sister show “Big Brother’s Big Mouth” â€“ wearing a long-sleeved shirt â€“ just days after his “cry for help”.
8. Police officers in San Diego, California, were forced to obtain a search warrant to raid the set of a 2003 series MTV show The Real World to gather evidence of an alleged rape, after producers tried to limit their access. A 22-year-old woman claimed she had been date-raped in the bathroom of the reality show’s house, although none of the show’s contestants were suspects. After an eight-month investigation, the case was dropped.
9. Big Brother 8 contestant Chanelle Hayes took an overdose of painkillers earlier this month after relationship problems with her footballer boyfriend Matt Bates, who plays for Championship side Middlesbrough. She had achieved a degree of fame though her on-screen romance with fellow contestant Ziggy Lichman.
10. Kelli McGee was encouraged by the producers of Extreme Makeover, ABC’s cosmetic surgery show, to say unflattering things about her sister Deleese Williams’s appearance. They planned to contrast the remarks with her post-surgery praise, but when Williams was ditched from the show and found out about her sister’s criticisms, it sparked a family feud that resulted in McGee committing suicide in 2005.
source: Ryan Jenkins found dead: ten other reality TV tragedies and controversies – [telegraph]
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