I saw a repeat of the first episode last night of MTV’s new reality show I’m From Rolling Stone and all I could think was “I want that 1/2 hour of my life back” and “I missed a re-run of Sanford and Son for this?” The premise is that six young writer wanna-be’s will go to bootcamp at the magazine, doing assignments, interviews and such. As with most reality shows, the reality ain’t all real.
The first episode had Jann Wenner calling all the hopefuls to tell them the good news and then prep them for the move to NYC and their first assignment. They’re psyched to be doing this and say their tearful goodbye to friends and arrive in Gotham to have editor Joe Levy tear apart each of their first pieces. I’m pretty sure things will pick up once they send the greenhorns out on the road. You already know the drunk guy ain’t gonna make it though and that the ex-con already has a good leg up and that the perky blond was chosen for reasons other than her writing skills.
While the glamor of being a part of a best-selling magazine (not to mention an MTV star) is surely fab, it ain’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Start with this Star-Telegram article about someone else’s experience as a Stone intern. Once the camera crews leave, there’s other harsh realities that will set in. Wenner is a stickler for not just clean desks but also for running his ship his way. Then there’s the back-biting, jealousy and favoritism that’s part and parcel for this biz, not to mention the constant threat of down-sizing, buy-outs and such. Oh, and then there’s the deadlines, work-counts and arguments with editors that were glimpsed only painfully briefly in the first episode…
I can’t help but wonder what a similar reality show like that would be for other publications. Would have been hilarious to see it done for Spin during the Bob Guccione Jr. years (“Where’s my blow?”) or maybe having Dr. Hunter S. Thompson as their ‘mentor’ at Rolling Stone back in the day (“today, we’ll learn about the proper use of firearms…”). You know, the days when rock mags were run like rock bands.
Gotta hand it to Wenner though- it’s good promo for his mag though I wouldn’t expect journo schools’ enrollment to spike now. And you can hate him all you like but he’s savvy enough to do something like this- after all, the real point of the show ain’t to find a great writer per se but to extend the RS brand name.