Cindy Brady Boots Reality

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“The participants might see their mates interacting with other singles,” Cowan says. “But if they do, it will not be posed. We don’t want to manipulate them.”

Grandma’s Strapped to the Roof

Cowan already has in the can 12 episodes of another show, When Hidden Cameras Attack, an updated, friskier version of Candid Camera, and in that show, manipulation is the name of the game.

In one episode, producers called up Los Angeles taxis, posing as a guy who needs to rush to the airport to sign a big contract in New York. When the driver arrives, the man explains that his grandmother just died, “and could we just drop her off at the morgue on the way to the airport?”

The driver sees a rocking chair with a figure, resembling a corpse, wrapped in a blanket and scented with a stink bomb.

“We asked the drivers to strap grandma to the roof, just like they did in National Lampoon’s Vacation,” Cowan says. “And eight out of 10 drivers actually did it.”

Eventually, the production team pops out of its hiding spot and producers tell the unsuspecting drivers that it’s all a stunt. “Mostly, people are happy to let us air them,” Cowan says. “… Of course, there are exceptions.”

So rest assured, even if you never got boob-tube glory for marrying a multimillionaire, chowing on vermin or shacking up with a stranger, rest assured there are ever-increasing opportunities for average folks to enjoy the instant fame of public humiliation.

And while you may never reach full-blown Bradydom, there’s always syndication. Buck Wolf is a producer at The Wolf Files is a weekly feature of the U.S. Section. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.