Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Megan Wants a Millionaire" Casting Director on Larry King Live, and the Questions King Should Have Asked Her

The full transcript for the episode can be found here.

First, here's how Larry King introduced the Megan Wants a Millionaire casting director on the show:

OK. Let's discuss this incredible matter that occurred last week. Stuart Brazell is the casting director for "Megan Wants a Millionaire." She recruited Ryan Jenkins for the show.
He doesn't tell us for whom she worked. 51Minds? VH1? The "outside company" that did background checks on the contestants? This is just one reason why I think Larry King is hands down the worst interviewer on television. He doesn't ask follow-up questions, and often acts as if he's surprised to be talking to anyone at all.

I didn't watch the entire interview; it's possible at some point there was a chiron that told viewers for whom she worked, but that information isn't in the transcript.

It's vitally important, however. Remember that 51Minds, in their statement, said that they used an "outside company" to do background checks on the contestants. If Stuart Brazell works for 51Minds, an interviewer who had done a bit of research beforehand might ask her:

"How much background information did you get on him?"

"Did you take his contact information and pass it along to this outside company that does the background checks? How did you give them this information? Was it part of a list of potential candidates for the show?"

"Did you in any way rank the candidates in the order in which you hoped to cast them? In other words, did you in any way convey to this "outside company" that you very much hoped to cast Mr. Jenkins on the show? Did you have any influence over how the background checks were conducted?"

Instead, he asks her:

KING: You, Stewart, cast Ryan Jenkins for "Megan Wants a Millionaire." What was the reaction first before the story broke, before you learned about a suicide?
Can you guess her answer?

BRAZELL: Shock, disbelief. It took me 24 hours to even process that it truly happened. I could not believe what I was seeing, that it was everywhere, just complete disbelief. Then tragedy for these families.
The story is tragic. The only people who might not understand that are a few TMZ commenters. With all due respect, I am not interested in her reaction to the story.

KING: What kind of contestant was he?

BRAZELL: Ryan was the ideal contestant for these shows. You want a big personality. You want loud. You want someone that's entertaining and that's going to cause conflict in the house. That's exactly what I looked for and that's what he was.
Here, if King had done any research at all into these shows, he would have asked followups about other characters on these reality shows. For instance, what about Brittanya, who was featured on Rock of Love Bus, where she spat on past winner Ambre, and was then featured on Charm School, where she spent the entire season worrying over her sentencing for assault? Then there was Saaphyri, from Flavor of Love, Charm School, and I Love Money 2, who was on the run from the law when she appeared on ILM2 (for identity theft- she's currently in prison). Then he might have asked about Cage from Daisy of Love, a professional cage fighter who was desperate to fight Flex, and so had to be (tearfully, of course) eliminated by Daisy. And what about 51Minds' penchant for having contestants on their shows engage in physical combat? Remember that Daisy eliminated Cage the week before the big mixed martial arts challenge. Remember also that next week, on Real Chance of Love 2, the women are going to "wrestle." For that matter, on Rock of Love, they had the "mud bowl," in which the women played football in the mud, and a roller derby challenge.

He might also ask why there is so much alcohol made so freely available to the contestants, who all live together in a house.

At some point, this seems to be a pattern of casting people of questionable self-control on programs that promote physical confrontation.

Would that King have asked this casting director about these things. Instead:

KING: How did you come to cast him?

BRAZELL: The way this works is, a lot of times you travel from city to city. My first city was Las Vegas. You go in a team. It is two people. I was there with a co-worker. Literally had landed in Vegas two hours later. Was at the Venetian. Took an escalator down. First person comes over, baby, baby, baby. He hit on me.

I met him because he approached me. I said, well, I'm going to use this. Part of what I do is I recruit talent for these shows. You literally go --

KING: He's trying to date you and you say to him, you want to be on a show?

BRAZELL: He was just having fun. It's Las Vegas. He's there to have fun with his boys. There was a big porn convention. They were there to enjoy what Vegas has to offer. I happened to be a pretty face that he wanted to come and talk to.

Ms. Brazell is a pretty face. She's appeared on television herself, and has a demo reel on YouTube. But, again, she's not really telling us anything about how the casting actually works, especially in light of 51Minds' statement about the background checks being done by an "outside company."

Stuart Brazell, a pretty face.

More confusion is caused by King's next question:

KING: Did he go right away for being on the show?

BRAZELL: Right away. He talked to me -- it took a couple sentences and he was down for it immediately, and then started talking about how he always wanted to be a movie star and actor. He was the perfect candidate for the show.

So what is the procedure for doing background checks? King doesn't ask that. He gets sidetracked by another guest, who expresses some doubt about the suicide of Ryan Jenkins, because from her understanding, his feet could touch the floor. Could be a conspiracy, and people love conspiracies. Maybe he was murdered?

And with that, King goes to a commercial break. When he comes back, he asks Ms. Brazell another of those "how do you feel about this" kind of questions that give us no real information:

KING: Before we bring in Candice Delong, who is our former FBI profiler, a couple more things -- Stuart, you remain with us as well. Did you see any hint that this guy might have been violent?

BRAZELL: You know, I was completely shocked that he would have been capable of doing this. Obviously these type of people that everyone enjoys watching -- he was charismatic. He was a lady's man. People were drawn to him. He ran around talking in tons of voices.

I could see that he could be a loose cannon. No, did I think that he was capable of murdering his wife? Absolutely not.

Of course not! If she'd thought that, she wouldn't have cast him. And besides, there was a background check done on him. At some point. By some outside company. Here's a chance for King to ask about that!

He does not.

(You will also note that Ms. Brazell manages to subtly implicate the viewer in this horrible situation, in the sentence I emphasized. She had to cast this guy- he was the type that everyone enjoys watching.)

KING: Didn't he get married while he was on the show.

BRAZELL: No, the show had wrapped. He was done filming. A lot of the cast members came from Vegas, because, as I told you, that was the first city. So he kind of came to hang out with them, met Jasmine, married her three hours later.

KING: Did you know her?

BRAZELL: I did not know her.

KING: Did he text message you after he married her?

BRAZELL: He did. He text messaged me the next day and said, I met the love of my life. This is the woman of my dreams. Just how happy he was. I would also say that he was happy to marry someone from the U.S., because he was very much looking for citizenship. I think that had a big part to do with it as well.

Waaaaiiiittt a second. King knew about the text messaging? So he did research on the text message, but not on past contestants on 51Minds shows? What kind of interviewer is this?

King then shows a clip of Megan and Ryan on their solo date on "Megan Wants a Millionaire." And then he has an "FBI profiler" "profile" Ryan Jenkins. From a twenty second clip from a reality show.

KING: All right, Candice, you're a profiler. Profile him.

CANDICE DELONG, FMR FBI PROFILER: Well, from everything we've seen, in addition to this little clip, these guys are master manipulators. They can control themselves in their waking environments, their working environments. They control their angers, their tempers. It's the wives and girlfriends in private that suffer from guys like this.

What interests me is on the clip with Megan, is that he said I wanted to show her a little vulnerability. Wait a minute. Vulnerability is a spontaneous -- you either have it or you don't. It's not something you put on the vulnerability suit.
Fascinating insights. Let me ask the profiler this question: Is profiling something you just put on, like a profiling suit? How much research had she done into Ryan Jenkins's story? Seriously, I am not a "former FBI profiler," but there is nothing that she said to King that I could not have come up with myself, after reading two stories on TMZ.

KING: Also, Ryan Jenkins had a past history of violence towards women. He got 15 months' probation in 2007 on assault charge and apparently maybe a suicide try. What do you make of all that?

DELONG: Let's talk about the assault first. Probably the most reliable indicator or predictor of future interpersonal violation is past interpersonal violence. So having a history of battery against women in his past would certainly make him a bad bet for a husband or boyfriend for the future.

As for the suicide attempt; the variety of reasons why people may attempt suicide -- but without question the vast majority of people don't. Here's a man who obviously is questioning whether he wants to be on this Earth, certainly ended his life that way, and thought about it before. It's an unstable guy.
Now King is displaying that someone did some research. But I have to wonder, yet again, and this is the important question:

Why didn't Larry King ask the casting director about this? The assault- the suicide attempt (I didn't know about that)- how could these things have gone undiscovered in 51Minds's "outside company's" background check?

King has some family members of Lacy Petersen on, and they discuss Scott, her husband who was convicted of murdering her. That's a sad story, and I must say I find it tasteless that King chose to have her family members on the same program as the casting director for "Megan Wants a Millionaire." And that "former FBI profiler." Later in the episode, King asks the casting director another of those "how do you feel" questions:

KING: Let's ask each of our guests about early warnings. Stewart, did you see anything, in retrospect, that you could have said -- I should have saw something?

BRAZELL: Once this happened, I replayed this and replayed this, so devastated for Jasmine, the family. You kind of go through, was there something there? And to be honest, I would have met Ryan. He was like anyone else. For a show like this, you put hundreds of people on camera, come in and out of your lives. This was a different show, because we were looking for a fluent gentleman, so we spent more time with them. I was with him in a social environment. He just seemed like a happy, go lucky guy. I would say he could be a loose cannon, if provoked. But this? No.
Again, here's a perfect opportunity for King to ask a follow up about the background check process. The process of casting "big personalities," and 51Minds's past casting choices. He does not.

Later, he asks the casting director a question that he deems much more important:

KING: Stewart, did you like him?

BRAZELL: I would not say -- he wasn't exactly my cup of tea. But he was likable. You know, he used funny voices. Women were drawn to him. He was the life of the party. He was likable. I did not personally chose him as a friend.
She liked him, but not enough to be friends with him. After all, the man is a suicided killer. Allegedly.

King then, finally, asks a background-check question:

KING: Did he have a lot of money?

BRAZELL: He did have a lot of money. His parents had a lot of money. He was legit for what we were looking for.

KING: Father's a lawyer, right?

BRAZELL: Father's an architect, I believe a real estate investor.

KING: An architect, successful businessman?

BRAZELL: Exactly. He was given ever opportunity to succeed.
Here, King could follow with a question about the background check. The past contestants of these shows. Something. But here's his next question:

KING: But you didn't dislike him?

BRAZELL: I didn't dislike him. I kind of saw him for what he was.

KING: Which was?

BRAZELL: Which was perfect for this show: loud, obnoxious, made for great TV.
If I were a contestant on any of these shows, and I heard the casting director say, on national television, that Ryan Jenkins was perfect for one of the shows, made for great TV because he was "loud" and "obnoxious," I might consider suing for defamation.

King has another chance to ask about the background check, and the actual mechanics of becoming a contestant on a 51Minds reality show. He does not:

KING: You think he might have been picked on the show? Did you ever guess he was going to be chosen?

BRAZELL: I thought 100 percent he would get on the show.

KING: Did you think he would be winning on the show?

BRAZELL: I thought he would make it to the final, at least the top five. He's a good-looking guy.

KING: He didn't make it to the top five?

BRAZELL: He didn't win the show.

KING: We haven't seen it yet?

BRAZELL: Well, it's been pulled. He was in the finals.

KING: He was? You can say that. He was a finalist.

BRAZELL: He was in the finals.
Emphasis added.

So, although Ms. Brazell "cast Ryan Jenkins," she really didn't have any say in his being cast on the show? Again, here's a chance for King to ask her something about how these people are actually cast. He does not. The show is over.

More questions than answers.

Stuart Brazelll pic source.


shampoo said...

if it was someone other than larry king i'd think he was told not to ask those questions. but since it's larry... who knows... but it's a missed opportunity to get to the bottom of this.

have you read the email ryan sent to jasmine? I think it's on tmz. it even gave tmz commenters pause. I think he was trying to be nice.

shampoo said...

oh, I just remembered... sinister may have an assault conviction as well. remember what ashley said?

Ricky Sprague said...

That's right- I'd forgotten about Sinister. I'm sure if we hunkered down and did some real research, unlike Mr. King, we could get some scary information about even more of these characters.

shampoo said...

I wouldn't be surprised if someone does that.

what made the antics of the hotestants watchable was the (clearly false) impression that they'd been throughly checked out and this is all an act... maybe even planned out... so nothing too bad was going to happen. there are some things I just don't want to be real (on tv, for my supposed entertainment). i'm not sure I can watch vh1 any more. :(

the police have found jasmine's car in the parking lot of trader joe's on santa monica blvd.

turns out the area where ryan crossed into canada? his dad and step mother used to have a house there.

the young blonde woman might be his sister. the paper alternately called her his step and half sister. a PT cruiser was found in her condo's garage by a newspaper. canadian police are still investigating, but it doesn't sound like they're interested in the blonde or the chrysler.

A.Jaye said...

Well done on a great article. 'Bout time someone took that senile old fart to task.

Corporate media sux.

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