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June 11, 2012

'The Glass House': get a look at the new reality show coming to ABC, June 18th


ABC's newest reality competition show "The Glass House" is nothing like any other show on television if ABC has anything to say about it. The executive producer of the show, Kenny Rosen, offered reporters a tour of the all glass house built on a sound-stage exclusively for the show. Fourteen contestants, from all different backgrounds and ranging in age from 25 to 48, will live in front of cameras while the audience directs them in challenges to help determine who is eliminated each week. The conclusion of the competition is one contestant walking off with the $250,000 prize.

Through Facebook and ABC.com, viewers will be able to interact with the contestants and follow their journey on the show and vote to keep them on. Each week someone will be voted off and the process will start off over again. The camera surveillance-like reality competition show will have their contestants living together in a multi-room house with the cameraman and producers (dressed in black as not to reflect light off the two way mirrors) documenting their actions from the secret passages all around the house. There are the traditional common living and dining areas, the bedrooms for two or three roommates and there are even "penalty" bedrooms where contestants who might not see eye to eye are be forced to spend time together. There is even a "reward" room  where friends can hang out.

The contestants are in the "fishbowl or “inside a snow globe” as Kenny calls it, but unlike other games shows, they will have significant periods of downtime time to themselves without the cameras. Also, the show has no on-camera host. There will be a "voice behind the mirror" that the contestants will get direction and instruction from. The competition goes on 24 hours a day, 5 days a week (the contestants get a 2 day reprieve from competition, spending their down time in a hotel near the house).
Leading outside the house is a massive backyard where all the physical challenges will take place. So who are the contestants? They are, as previously announced by ABC:
 Alex, bail bondsman (age 25) – Dallas, TX, Andrea, bookkeeper (age 31) – Valencia, CA, Apollo, poet/author (age 28) – Phoenix, AZ, Ashley, paralegal (age 30) – New Orleans, LA, Erica, cocktail waitress (age 27) – Denver, CO, Gene, stuntman (age 28) – Chicago, IL, Jacob, cook (age 28) – Coos Bay, OR, Jeffrey, receptionist (age 35) – Brooklyn, NY, Joy, nurse (age 27) – Fredericksburg, VA, Kevin, police sergeant (age 33) – Toledo, OH, Melissa, freelance journalist (age 31) – Chicago, IL, Mike, bar mitzvah DJ (age 48) – Pembroke, MA, Robin, blogger (age 43) – Washington, DC and Stephanie, scientist (age 32) – Boston, MA.
So how exactly will this game work and is it really so much like CBS's "Big Brother" that the rival network couldn't help but sue to stop the show from airing?

 "We are keeping calm and carrying on," Kenny said when asked if they we worried about the current legal battle with CBS. "I don't know that worried is the right word, we've been distracted a bit but we're moving forward and are going to have a great show on June 18th."
He also believes that they have a very different show than what's out there and also a fun game.
"We have a new game, a brand new format,” he said. "We think the game is really cool and the truth of the matter is that long running reality shows on air have games that work. That's the key to any great challenge show withstanding the test of time. I think we have a really good game and I think America is going to dig the control that we are giving them, that going to be immediate and it’s going to be significant. We're having them make every decision. They're trimming the player pool. it's their top of the gene pool of who they like and dislike. We can't the show a lot different than any other reality show."

But unlike the "American Idols" and "America's Got Talent" type shows, the contestants' back stories are there but are not the main focus of the show.
"Back story doesn't mean too much to us," Kenny said. "People are obviously going to come in with their background and I'm sure they're going to talk about who they are. Obviously we are going to have extroverts on the show otherwise they wouldn't enjoy living under camera surveillance like they are. For the most part their back stories will be told in the house and they'll get their cues, clues from viewers as it whether they’re doing something that [the audience] likes or not and they'll need to either change their behavior or continue with the behavior they've been exhibiting. Like with any reality show you can't hide; at a certain point, you're bound to show your true colors.”
The contestants will have situations thrown at them in a moments notice and have to respond. What those challenges will be and how the audience responds to it will be key to the success of the show and crucial to helping a contestant win the big prize.
“There's seven hours of live internet time available where the audience can personally interact with the people in the house, “Kenny said. “The audience will decide who's looking to entertain me or impress me. I'd like to think that our contestants are going to end up leaving here as better people than they were when they arrived which is rare for any reality show. “

The show’s producers feel they have the right formula to keep the show fresh. "We have thousands and thousands of ideas and this is the first season so we're testing ideas this rehearsal week. We’re going to be doing some new concepts and new ideas to see what works. We'll learn our lessons just like whenever you do something new, It’ll be a big learning curve for us. For the live one hour shows, we'll switch it up. We'll see."
The quality of contestants the show has chosen, Kenny feels, is a lot different than some of the other reality shows that have aired. "Our contestants," he insists, "have redeeming qualities about them in life. We're not just casting hard young people or hard bodies who are there to fight with each other and pull each other’s hair out sand talk smack about each other. We have people here who have real redeeming qualities which is really important for this game to work. People that the viewer can get behind and support. They can root for them and try to help carry their favorite players to the end, our contestant are coming at it from a completely different perspective that the ‘Survivors’ and ‘Amazing Races’ of the world.”

Still the veteran producer of such reality shows as “Hell’s Kitchen” has no pre-conceived notions about who will win.
"I’ve done a lot of reality shows and I can never predict who's going to win," Kenny said. "Some people surprise you in a really good way and some people surprise you in a really bad way and I’m sure that going to be the way it goes this time too. You just never know...people when casting for reality shows are a lot different...where willing to say and do anything. Casting, once they get here they can’t help but show their true colors, we'll see."

The contestants are moving into the house Monday, June 11th. "The Glass House" premieres June 18th on ABC. For more info on the show, visit ABC.com
(photo credit: Nicole Wilder/American Broadcasting Companies)

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