Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Keepin It 'Real'

A Death for the Nielsens
Najai Turpin, a contestant in "The Contender" a new NBC reality series about boxing scheduled to start next month, committed suicide Monday in Philadelphia. NBC executives claimed -- no doubt under the advice of their lawyers -- that the suicide was unrelated to the show, which they would air as planned, starting March 7.

Turpin who was raised in Philadelphia's tough inner-city is survived by a girlfriend and their young daughter Anje. According to "The Contender" website, Turpin saw the show as "a real shot to get out of the ghetto and says they will have to kill him to beat him." [emphasis added]

This suicide recalled an incident that almost derailed "Survivor" before the wildly popular series could air in America. Sinisa Savija, a contestant in an early version of the show made for Swedish television, committed suicide after he was the first person voted off the island. A Swedish court subsequently found that the producers of the program were not responsible for Savija's death.

I'm guessing that Turpin was voted off "The Contender" as well. He and his next of kin are locked into a network contract that has them sworn to silence about the results of the reality show competition, in an effort not to spoil the broadcast finale. They needn't worry about Turpin talking, now.

Mark Burnett, the show's executive producer, said Turpin's death changes nothing as far as the program is concerned. "I'm not even going to make any edits because it's real."

Real? It seems "reality" mogul Burnett could use a lesson in the meaning of the word.

BoxingScene.com’s Rick Reeno takes Burnett's remorse one further, “should Turpin win [in the episodes to be aired] and keep winning, the suspense could generate heavy ratings for the show.” Anything to keep the Nielsens happy.

I hope that Anje and her mother know a good lawyer.


Percy said...

Your post brought to light one of the questions that I always had about reality shows. What happens to people who are disappointed or humiliated or lose a pot-load of money ? What about their trauma?

I'm sure that you have to sign lengthy disclaimers when you sign up for these shows. And people do. Some are greedy, some are just desperate. Does anyone care? The reality television juggernaut rolls on. Hey, it's all good entertainment right?

Anonymous said...

Ok, so you call yourself a writer, but during the article, you wrote his name differently in every paragraph. Did you even edit this?? Furthermore, he committed suicide on Valentine's Day in a car with his girlfriend. Do you think that maybe there were some issues there?? Maybe a break-up or he was worried about losing his daughter? I don't think the show made him kill himself. Maybe the loss pushed him further but that's it. Lots of people kill themselves who aren't on TV. Why don't we just feel sad and leave it at that. T

Anonymous said...

If he wants to be a boxer, he would probably have to deal with defeat at some point. I think you are missing the bigger picture, that boxing takes a terrible toll on the human body.

Reality shows have real people and real things like suicide can happen to them. People sign up for this stuff and try like hell to get on, it's not like anyone is forcing them to do it.

Anonymous said...

Man..Whatever the reason maybe, I thought Najai was a Cool Boxer--Enuff Respect To him!

Anonymous said...

That Just Sad--Whatever the reason Maybe!