Amongst allegations that Kitchen Nightmares is fake, I would like to say that it is a reality show. Let’s think about reality and ponder on how entertaining real life is? Is the average person’s life a one hour episode of drama? Reality tv is supposed to be entertaining and television networks, keen on ratings, may add a few embellishments to the tv shows. I don’t think it would be far fetched for the average viewer to believe that to a point reality TV is fake. Cracked.com made a great exposition of these hidden embellishments in their informative article entitled 5 Secrets of Making Reality TV They Don’t Want You To Know.
Fox news has a brief report on the downfall of reality tv. Reporting the accusations of reality show shams as well as quoting actual reality actors such as Kristin Cavallari and The Bachelorette winner Jesse Csincsak. (See their report Reality Bites)
I have always wondered, what does it mean to be features on Kitchen Nightmares. For one, there is a casting call, which I found goes through The Conlin Company, a premier casting and production with an impressive resume of reality tv shows past and present. You fill out an application and wait for a call back. From here we go into the magic work of reality tv. What happens behind the curtain is mere speculation and unknown to me. From the casting to the airing on television, I cannot tell you what happens, but anyone who has ever been through this experience is more than welcome to share it in the comments below. (Please note, that I am not making any accusations towards the Conlin Company, I am merely stating they put out a casting call- thereby just doing their job.) For now, all we can do is Google search “reality casting experiences” and hope to find anyone’s first hand experience.
I fear, however that people who appear on reality tv rarely talk about their experiences. Almost as if they are bound by “promise not to tell” confidentiality agreements. Without valid proof or without a wave of former reality contestants saying “we signed confidentiality agreements” we will never know.
Take for example the Kitchen Nightmares episode for Sushi Ko in Thousand Oaks, California (one of the many restaurants that could not hang unto business after being Kitchen Nightmared).
The most intriguing post comes from someone who seems to have been involved with the family featured in the tv show as shown below:
I wonder what the blank is. He said the restaurant closed partly because of the economy and partly ______? Why leave it blank. It is this blank space that troubles me. Almost as if he’s not allowed to say why exactly the restaurant closed.
But, don’t let my theory that all participants are under confidentiality dissuade you. After all, a former owner of a restaurant featured in Kitchen Nightmares did speak up and sue Gordon (who I love by the way). The UK news source, Daily Mail reported Martin Hyde of Dillons Lounge accused Ramsay of staging the show and using actors. The Times report that the case was dismissed and settled in arbitration.
The question is does Kitchen Nightmares use actors in the background and does it matter? Looking at the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) is what brought up the question in my mind. See Kitchen Nightmares Full Cast: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0983514/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast
Just looking at the full cast, there seem to be some people with recurring roles as restaurant diners, following their profiles and seeing their several appearances in the show.
Reasonably, one could assume that as aspiring and working actors, they may have all received invitations to attend filmings to dine in several restaurants of the show. Then, they went back and gave themselves credits on the IMDB. My only issue is that they have credit themselves as diners in several episodes in Season 3 (and some of Season 4) of Kitchen Nightmares, back to back. Second issue is that if you look at all these restaurants in the Season 3 list, are all over the US. From California to Florida to Philadelphia. Unless these people were going on a road trip across the entire US for a few months and just happened to be in town for every restaurant of Season 3, I am not sure how they were casually able to just be dinners of most of these restaurants.
To be sure, I am focusing on the few random names on the full cast list I posted. Obviously, some of the cast listed are crew of Kitchen Nightmares, but I mean the ones who are not chef/consultants and other crew. I mean the ones who if you click on their profiles, have many acting credits.
We see the actor’s bios and their appearances in Kitchen Nightmares:
Marc Daniels- 25 appearances, 25 different restaurants (scroll down to his credits as “self”) http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4031108/?ref_=tt_cl_t3
Another actress with a lot of film credits- but also under “self” 25 credits for Kitchen Nightmares: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0863441/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cl_t12
As we can see, this lady has a lot of film credits but also 13 credits as a “herself diner” http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1936822/?ref_=tt_cl_t5
While it’s not terribly difficult to add oneself as a cast member on IMDB, the newer seasons of Kitchen Nightmares no longer contains any background actors as the cast. In a way, I can understand how someone eager to begin an acting career or further their acting listing may want to add themselves as “cast” to gain some credits. But while all they did was sit in the background at a table eating on a realty tv show, I still don’t understand the glory nor does it help the “reality is real” aspect of a tv show. The question remains, do reality tv shows use actors? Maybe they do. Or maybe actors just show up at filming and give themselves credits.
In any event, it is admirable of these people to be willing to travel all across the US to dine at a several restaurants featured in Kitchen Nightmares from Los Angeles to New York. They must be great fans of the show to be willing to put the time and effort into this….or maybe they were just hungry and just happened to be in town.
ps: still love that show.