Why Do They Do It? The Truth Behind 'Celebreality'

"You're not the average television viewer who's watching television, you're a news man. It's a huge difference. First of all, you're a cynic. First of all, you're hard-boiled -- that's your profession, that's why you're in this business."

Surviving the Stigma

"I can imagine you sitting around the newsroom and kicking around story ideas [such as] 'Let's go and beat the hell out of celebreality business,'" he concluded. "It's ideal to take potshots at me."

Despite Leach's protests, Cronin and Abrego acknowledge there is a certain stigma around their empire. "There's no doubt that every single person who's done 'The Surreal Life' said, 'No,' uh, initially," said Cronin. "They don't want to even get the phone call."

So what makes them cave?

"Everybody does it for a different reason," Cronin said.

"I'll tell you, nobody does it for the money," he said. "Some people are doing it because they want the world to see that they're not [the] headline in The Enquirer."

"One of our greatest credits is Christopher Knight. Do you know who that is?" Abrego asked. "Peter Brady. … For the longest time, even when he came onto 'The Surreal Life,' he was known as Peter Brady. Even we couldn't stop calling him Peter. But now, he's referred to as Christopher Knight."

Cronin and Abrego do almost everything with a wink and a grin. Their end product may be crazy, but they do not seem cruel. They are going for smiles over substance and succeeding.

"These are real people," said Cronin. "These are funny people. Some of 'em likable, some of 'em more likable than others. Some of them more insecure than others. They're really just people, and they deserve the respect."

Even Leach whether he is fond of us or not.

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