TCA 2014: “I just don't want to bullshit the viewer anymore,” the former Ford spokesman said on the current state of reality TV
Mike Rowe has another TV show where he temporarily does weird, gross or undesirable jobs — but he wants you to know that it's nothing like his decade-long gig on “Dirty Jobs.”
“We did 300 of them, we went to every state — it nearly killed me,” Rowe told reporters at Thursday's Television Critics Association panel, speaking of his former Discovery show. “I loved it. It was fundamentally about dirt, and work.
“We focused a lot on process, how the thing got done, what it was,” Rowe continued. “‘Somebody's Gotta Do It’ is more biographical, really … we're looking for people who wake up everyday a little afflicted because the world is not exactly what they want it to be. They're on a mission.
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“‘Somebody's Gotta Do It’ is about people who simply do what they do because of a weird mix of love, compulsion, obsession, dedication — whatever it is,” Rowe added.
The former Ford spokesman, who dedicated “Dirty Jobs” to his grandfather, said he's seeking more hobbyists than professionals with odd jobs in the new show: more “avocation” than “vocation,” as he put it.
Ironically — or perhaps not — “Dirty Jobs” began in 2001 with a small San Francisco-based segment he named “Somebody's Gotta Do It,” bringing the concept and title full circle, becoming the program that Rowe said he always wanted to do.
Rowe's new gig with that title — this time on CNN — finds its quirky subjects on Facebook. Thus far they've received thousands of inquiries and have been shooting for several months in half a dozen states.
Rowe sees “Somebody's Gotta Do It” as “really transparent, organic and … ‘non-fiction’ show. The quotes around “non-fiction” are Rowe's, because as he said several times during the Beverly Hills Hotel press event, he's really not sure what that genre means anymore.
He wants to help draw more clear lines between reality and fiction on TV, Rowe said.
“It's not so much about breaking the fourth wall — which everyone loves to talk about — it's ignoring the fourth wall,” Rowe said. “I just don't want to bullshit the viewer anymore into thinking a thing is bigger than it is or smaller than it is or any more dangerous than it is.”
One “dirty” job that Rowe joked he'd like to try once — but never again — is TV critic, which the ballroom was full of.
“Some jobs are just too hideous to contemplate,” Rowe joked.
The room filled with laughter, but time — and “Somebody's Gotta Do It” reviews from the giggling critics — will tell how the quip was received.