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Crushed Planet takes reality TV to next level

By Daily Bruin Staff

Feb. 13, 2001 9:00 p.m.

  View Films Joe and Harry
show off the logo of their Web site,, which offers online reality shows for a fee.

By Amy Shen
Daily Bruin Contributor

When all the not-so-realistic “reality TV” shows on
the networks become a bore, it’s time to trade in the remote
for a mouse and take a trip to

Following in the voyeuristic footsteps of HBO’s
“Taxicab Confessions,” in which taxicab passengers
reveal the sometimes funny, often dark, and always shocking
realities of their private lives to hidden cameras, the
show’s producers, Joe and Harry Gantz, are now offering
viewers their daily dose of reality on

The site contains reality shows that are nothing like what Web
surfers may have seen before on the Internet, or even television
for that matter.

According to Maryam Henein, a cast member from the site’s
show “First Apartment,” the difference between Crushed
Planet and network or cable TV is that programs like MTV’s
“The Real World” are sensationalized.

“They’re constantly provoking the people on
it,” she said. “It’s very glitzy and

In contrast, Crushed Planet offers visitors a choice of five
uniquely entertaining reality shows, that can be viewed at any hour
of the day for a charge of $5.95 a month.

“We attempted to capture real life in progress in a very
authentic way, usually around people’s most emotional and
personal issues,” Harry Gantz said in a recent interview.

One show, “Eavesdropping,” offers the same sort of
glimpse into the human experience as “Taxicab
Confessions,” capturing people at their most unguarded and
intimate moments. Hidden cameras catch the featured people in the
act of conversation at dating services, wedding chapels, hair
salons, county jails and even sex toy parties.

“We try to put (people) in a situation where they can
forget about the camera and go about living their lives so we can
capture it and create these very compelling stories,” Gantz

“24/7,” on the other hand, is a documentary-style
portrayal of a group of twenty-something friends struggling to find
themselves amid a confusing and turbulent world.

They open themselves to the camera ““ which follows them
around for an entire week, observing their lives, activities and
interactions ““ as they strive to find independence, grapple
with friendships, and fall in and out of love.

To produce “Couples Arguing,” another featured
program, camera crews were on call 24 hours a day attempting to
catch couples in their rawest and most explosive moments, according
to Gantz

Here, five participating couples reveal to the world their most
suppressed feelings of anger, discontent and sadness. Sometimes
viewers see the couples’ problems resolved in love and
understanding; other times, arguments only build into greater

“Arguments are critical to the success or breakdown of a
relationship,” the site explains.
“This series examines the dynamic link between arguing and
intimacy by showing how indispensable and inevitable arguments

“The War on Comedy” is slightly different from the
other shows on Crushed Planet. The urban stand-up act, coming
straight to the Web from M&M Soul Food Kitchen in South Central
Los Angeles, goes beyond typical cable television, bringing viewers
extreme and unedited comedy about sex, racism and drugs that would
never make it to network TV.

Finally, in “First Apartment,” one of Crushed
Planets’ more popular series, one young couple has absolutely
every aspect of their lives documented 24 hours a day by four
full-motion cameras in every corner of their apartment.

“(Other shows) have producers and directors behind the
scenes initiating conversation a lot of the times, and then all of
it is edited,” said Antonio Aguilar, Henein’s boyfriend
and fellow cast member on “First Apartment.” “The
difference between that and our show is that it’s raw, live
““ it’s very real.”

The sensitive, and often steamy, trials and tribulations of the
uninhibited couples are sent via unedited streaming video straight
to the World Wide Web, providing viewers with an in-depth
perspective into the truly private lives of two people ““
their sweetest and most sexual moments, their most heated
arguments, their greatest fears and disappointments and their hopes
and dreams for the future.

“One woman found (“˜First Apartment’)
refreshing because we were a real couple with real problems,”
Henein said.

“It helped her in understanding her situation, which was
much worse than even ours,” Aguilar furthered.

What makes Crushed Planet so different from all the other
network reality programming is that each of its shows is,
essentially, uncensored and presented to the viewer. The fact that
there are no regulations on the Internet allows viewers a truly
in-depth look into the lives of others, however shocking or

“I think people are refreshed to see something that calls
itself reality TV in which the name is not a misnomer, because most
of the reality TV is so far from reality,” Gantz said.
“I think what sets most of our programming apart is that
“¦ we’re trying to get deeply into someone’s real

Rita Scott, a driver for “Taxicab Confessions” in
Las Vegas, agrees that Gantz’s form of reality programming is
truly superior to others.

“(Viewers) connect with the shows,” she said.
“One of the stories on the show may relate to something
that’s going on in their life.”

Essentially, this is the Gantz brothers’ ultimate goal
““ relatability. They want to create reality programming that
opens viewers’ eyes to the broad spectrum of humanity and

“It is a crazy world out there,” Gantz said.
“It’s amazing the type of experiences people go

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