Tag Archives: reality show

Trump was lewd, sexist, say ‘Apprentice’ cast and crew

Donald Trump repeatedly demeaned women with sexist language in his years as a reality TV boss, according to The Apprentice insiders who said he rated female contestants by the size of their breasts and talked about which ones he’d like to have sex with.

The Associated Press interviewed more than 20 people — former crew members, editors and contestants — who described crass behavior by Trump behind the scenes of the long-running hit show, in which aspiring capitalists were given tasks to perform as they competed for jobs working for him.

The staffers and contestants agreed to recount their experiences as Trump’s behavior toward women has become a core issue in the presidential campaign. Interviewed separately, they gave concurring accounts of inappropriate conduct on the set.

Eight former crew members recalled that he repeatedly made lewd comments about a camerawoman he said had a nice rear, comparing her beauty to that of his daughter, Ivanka.

During one season, Trump called for female contestants to wear shorter dresses that also showed more cleavage, according to contestant Gene Folkes.

Several cast members said Trump had one female contestant twirl before him so he could ogle her figure.

Randal Pinkett, who won the program in December 2005 and who has recently criticized Trump during his run for president, said he remembered the real estate mogul talking about which female contestants he wanted to sleep with, even though Trump had married former model Melania Knauss earlier that year:   “He was like ‘Isn’t she hot, check her out,’ kind of gawking, something to the effect of ‘I’d like to hit that.’”

The Trump campaign issued a general denial. “These outlandish, unsubstantiated, and totally false claims fabricated by publicity hungry, opportunistic, disgruntled former employees, have no merit whatsoever,” said Hope Hicks, Trump’s campaign spokeswoman. “The Apprentice was one of the most successful prime-time television shows of all time and employed hundreds of people over many years, many of whom support Mr. Trump’s candidacy.” She declined to answer specific questions that were emailed and declined an interview request.

Former producer Katherine Walker said Trump frequently talked about women’s bodies during the five seasons she worked with him and said he speculated about which female contestant would be “a tiger in bed.”

A former crew member who signed a non-disclosure agreement and asked not to be identified, recalled that Trump asked male contestants whether they would sleep with a particular female contestant, then expressed his own interest.

“We were in the boardroom one time figuring out who to blame for the task, and he just stopped in the middle and pointed to someone and said, ‘You’d f… her, wouldn’t you? I’d f… her. C’mon, wouldn’t you?’”

The person continued: “Everyone is trying to make him stop talking, and the woman is shrinking in her seat.”

Other cast and crew interviewed said they had positive, professional experiences with Trump, and added that they had never heard comments that made them uncomfortable.

“He was extremely supportive. You could tell there was so much respect there on all sides, especially with the female athletes,” said contestant and U.S. softball star Jennie Finch, a two-time Olympian. “Obviously, he was complimentary, but never in an inappropriate way.”

Contestant Poppy Carlig, who performed the twirl, said she considered Trump’s request “playful banter.” She added: “I don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that people are having bad intentions with what they are saying. He said I reminded him of his daughter and I thought that was really touching because I know how much he values his family.”

Twelve former contestants or members of the crew spoke on the record about what they described as Trump’s inappropriate behavior. Another nine spoke to the AP about their concerns regarding Trump’s treatment of female colleagues but said they did not want to be identified because they signed non-disclosure agreements, or were concerned about wrecking their careers or retaliation from Trump.

Most offered no opinion on the November election in the course of their interviews, but the majority of those who did said only that they were not supporting Trump.

Trump points to his record of hiring women, but he has often been accused of sexist behavior; at the first Republican debate, in August 2015, Fox anchor Megyn Kelly asked whether a man who has called women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals” has the temperament to be president. After that debate, Trump attacked Kelly and her questioning, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”

The remarks of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, who said Trump called her “Miss Piggy” because she’d gained weight during her reign, became campaign fodder last week following the first presidential debate. Trump used to own the pageant.

NBC, which broadcast the hit series, referred questions to executive producer Mark Burnett, whose studio referred calls to a public relations firm. The public relations firm did not respond to multiple voicemails and emails seeking comment. AP previously asked Burnett to provide original footage for review, but those calls were not returned.

Debuting in 2004, The Apprentice and a spinoff, Celebrity Apprentice, propelled Trump to national stardom following a string of bankruptcies and bad business deals in the 1990s that had splintered his New York-based real estate empire. The series, meant to showcase Trump’s business acumen, became a major hit and Trump’s name became a global brand that helped launch his political career.

But on the set, usually inside Trump Tower, the former cast and crew members say, the businessman’s treatment of women was sometimes far from professional.

Walker, who said she was the only high-level female producer during the first season, said Trump turned to her during a break outside of the control room to ask who he should fire. Walker demurred, she said, but noted that team members had told her one contestant had caused her team to lose their business task. Trump raised his hands and cupped them to his chest to ask whether it was a contestant with large breasts, she said.

“He said, ‘You mean the one with the’ _ and he puts his hands out in a gesture to signal the girl with the giant boobs. He didn’t even know her name,” Walker said, adding that the contestant, Kristi Frank, was fired at the end of the episode.

“I thought he noticed my hard work, but I guess he didn’t,” said Frank, a former restaurant owner who studied industrial engineering.

She said that after Trump delivered his punch line “You’re fired!” he told her fiance that “of all the girls,” she was the contestant he would have chosen to marry.

“It makes me a little sick,” Frank said. “It’s kind of sweet, but it makes me feel like ‘OK, he’s checking me out again.””

In portions of boardroom sessions never broadcast, Trump frequently would ask male contestants to rate the attractiveness of their female competitors, former crew members and contestants said.

“If there was a break in the conversation, he would then look at one of the female cast members, saying ‘you’re looking kind of hot today, I love that dress on you,’ then he would turn to one of the male cast members and say ‘wouldn’t you sleep with her?’ and then everyone would laugh,” said a former crew member who spoke on condition of anonymity because of a non-disclosure agreement. “There would be about 10 or 12 cameras rolling and getting that footage, which is why everybody was like, this guy just doesn’t care.”

Trump would carry on with the questions even if all involved were married, said Gene Folkes, who appeared on the program in 2010.

“If you didn’t answer, he would dig in and say, ‘Do you think so and so is attractive? Would you sleep with her? Well, what about if you really had to, would you?’” Folkes said. “It was so bizarre, because he (otherwise) seemed so professional.”

Folkes said he also remembered that Trump “asked one of the women their breast size at one point, or said, ‘are those real or natural?””

Jim Dowd, who did public relations for Trump, NBC and The Apprentice shows between 2003 and 2009, said Trump was a “lover of women” and a “guy’s guy.”

“Was he complimenting the women? Of course. Was he behind closed doors with just the guys rating the women, who were the hotter ones on the show? Yes, he certainly was prone to that,” Dowd said.

“I never heard him say anything about women’s bodies, but he was definitely unscripted,” said former producer Michael Dietz.

Eight former crew members said Trump took a fancy to a particular female camera operator, and frequently gave her attention that made many on the set feel uncomfortable. Two former crew members said the woman made it clear to them privately that she did not like Trump’s comments.

Walker, the former producer, said it was clear Trump was attracted to the camera operator as far back as 2003.

“He said something like she was cute and she had a nice ass, and it was brought to my attention by someone else that he had a crush on her,” Walker said. “We all knew, so that’s uncomfortable in and of itself. I remember it being too much, that he made it obvious.”

Rebecca Arndt, a camera assistant who worked on the show following Trump’s 2005 marriage, said Trump would stop production to make comments about the camera operator’s looks in front of the crew.

“I remember being in the foyer once with eight or 10 cameras set up and he said something about her being so pretty,” Arndt said. “He would make it about his line of sight, like ‘There is a beautiful woman behind that camera, so I only want to look at that.’ It was supposed to be considered a compliment, but of course it was inappropriate.”

German Abarca, another former camera operator, said most of the camera crew knew that Trump was attracted to their colleague.

Abarca said the woman was the frequent subject of ribbing by others in the crew, almost all of whom were much younger than Trump. “I think she mostly tried to ignore it.”

Arndt said that Trump would publicly discuss the woman’s beauty and how her blue eyes and blonde hair compared to his daughter Ivanka’s looks.

“He would just mention it all the time. I remember him comparing Ivanka to her and saying that only Ivanka was prettier,” she said.

The woman did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment. The AP spoke in person twice with her husband, who said his wife did not wish to be interviewed, “doesn’t have a problem with Donald Trump” and denied she had been subjected to repeated, unwanted attention from Trump.

One former contestant, Tyana Alvarado, said she wasn’t offended when Trump told her she was attractive — but noted that he played by his own rules.

“Most men have to behave because they are in a workplace, but he could do what he wanted,” Alvarado said. “In all jobs, people have to sign sexual harassment paperwork, but Mr. Trump was putting on a TV show so he got to do it.”

‘Ghost Hunters’ will haunt Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater

When Steve Gonsalves first saw Ghostbusters, the 1984 Bill Murray comedy about four hapless souls who chase paranormal specters and save New York City from the powers of darkness and a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, his life’s course became clear.

“I needed to be one of those guys!” Gonsalves says.

Last year Gonsalves celebrated the 10th anniversary of Ghost Hunters, Syfy’s wildly popular reality TV show in which he, lead investigator Jason Hawes and a full team of enthusiasts explore, document and try to explain paranormal activity in homes, hotels and other locations across the United States.

The full team has yet to visit in Wisconsin, but Gonsalves and Hawes will haunt Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater on Jan. 23 with “Ghost Hunters LIVE,” an evening of inside glimpses and video outtakes of their collective paranormal experiences — which Gonsalves says are as funny as they are frightening.

Gonsalves says he’s never met a ghost he didn’t like. In fact, he says, he’s never met a ghost at all.

“People think ghosts are people who lived on Earth and passed away, but I’ve never seen one ever,” says Gonsalves, who handles technology and data analysis for the Ghost Hunters team. “I trust Jason with my life and if he comes to me and says, ‘I just saw this head come out at me,’ I do think he saw it. But I don’t believe in anything until I see myself.”

What Gonsalves has experienced are unexpected lights, noises both vague and thunderous, unexplained smells and even physical contact, all of which fuel his fascination with an otherworldly realm.

“I’ve seen spontaneous fires ignite for no reason, have been touched and pushed, and have seen things that can’t be explained,” Gonsalves says. “I do believe in the paranormal and that’s what keeps me looking.”

One particular experience stands out in Gonsalves’ mind. It happened when the Ghost Hunters were investigating the remnants of Alcatraz, the former prison on an island in San Francisco Bay. The prison closed in 1963 and is now a tourist attraction managed by the National Park Service. 

One of the former prison cells and an adjoining corridor emitted a strong soapy odor that the crew could not explain. They dismissed it, only to discover later that it was the key to an apparition.

“The head tour guide told us that the cell belonged to an inmate — and he may have been the Birdman of Alcatraz, but I’m not sure — who was only allowed out of his cell to take a shower,” Gonsalves says. “He bathed many times a week for 10 years, moving from his cell to showers down that same corridor. Can we consider those smells as a sign that his energy was still hanging around?”

Gonsalves’ career path to Ghost Hunters included stints as an EMT, police officer, jewelry maker, drummer and even a Pizza Hut manager. But he also studied the paranormal wherever he could, including work with renowned parapsychologist William G. Roll. Gonsalves learned that sightings and other paranormal experiences are all about the energy that “haunts” the room.

“If you’re using the technological devices you need to know how energy works,” Gonsalves says. “Everything is covered with static electricity. When it moves it becomes electromagnetic and gauges we use read what’s left of the energy.”

That energy could be recent, or it could be years old, Gonsalves says. Reading the energy that is left behind by human activity may be the equivalent of “seeing a ghost,” and residue from the past activity — human and otherwise — can contribute to paranormal presences, he says. “Not many investigators know what to look for and how to interpret it,” Gonsalves adds.

Gonsalves’ interest in the science of paranormal studies dates back to age 20, when he formed a New England paranormal group. He met Hawes, head of what is now the Atlantic Paranormal Society, and eventually the pair joined forces.  They worked together for about eight years before being approached to film Ghost Hunters, and they and their team, a mix of police officers, professors and former plumbers, are among the few people worldwide making a living exploring paranormal activity.

For Gonsalves, the drama of his job comes in the history behind the sightings, as well as their ability to help the families of the alleged specters come to terms with deceased family members still lurking about. Video footage of a ghost haunting a zoo in Alexandria, Louisiana, for example, was clearly identified as “Les,” the former zoo proprietor, by his surviving family members, who wept in relief because they had then come to terms with his death.

Not all the video crew members believe in the paranormal, but Gonsalves says none of them are ever afraid when they are on- site investigating supposed apparitions.

“It’s very much like police work,” the ghost hunter says. “When you see that apparition moving down a dark hallway, you don’t fear it, you chase it.”

But then that’s easy for a group of modern-day Ghostbusters to say.

ON STAGE

“Ghost Hunters LIVE” appears at 8 p.m. on Jan. 23 at Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater, 144 E. Wells St. Tickets are $30, $100 for meet-and-greet seats. Call 414-286-3205 or visit pabsttheater.org for more information.

Dungy clarifies remarks about drafting Michael Sam

Former NFL coach Tony Dungy has issued a statement clarifying his remark about drafting Michael Sam to emphasize his concern was for a planned reality show featuring the player, not the player’s sexual orientation.

Dungy had been quoted as saying in a report that he would not have drafted Sam because it would have been too difficult, a distraction.

The former coach said he read that report on July 21 and felt the need to clarify. He said his concern with drafting the openly gay Sam, who was picked up by St. Louis, had to do with the media circus surrounding an announcement of a reality show about Sam and not Sam as a person or a player.

At the time Dungy was interviewed for the report, Oprah Winfrey’s network was planning a reality show about Sam’s first season. Those plans have since been scrapped.

In his statement on July 22, Dungy said, ““The best players make the team, and everyone should get the opportunity to prove whether they’re good enough to play. That’s my opinion as a coach. But those were not the questions I was asked.”

He also said he does “not believe Michael’s sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization.” 

Dungy said he was not asked whether Sam deserves a chance to play in the NFL and said if he had been asked he would have said, “He absolutely does.”

He said he also was not asked whether he would have a problem with having Sam on a team. If he had been asked that, he would have said, “I would not.”

Here is Dungy’s statement:

On Monday afternoon while on vacation with my family, I was quite surprised to read excerpts from an interview I gave several weeks ago related to this year’s NFL Draft, and I feel compelled to clarify those remarks. 

I was asked whether I would have drafted Michael Sam and I answered that would not have drafted him. I gave my honest answer, which is that I felt drafting him would bring much distraction to the team. At the time of my interview, the Oprah Winfrey reality show that was going to chronicle Michael’s first season had been announced.

I was not asked whether or not Michael Sam deserves an opportunity to play in the NFL. He absolutely does.

I was not asked whether his sexual orientation should play a part in the evaluation process. It should not.

I was not asked whether I would have a problem having Michael Sam on my team. I would not.

I have been asked all of those questions several times in the last three months and have always answered them the same way by saying that playing in the NFL is, and should be, about merit.

The best players make the team, and everyone should get the opportunity to prove whether they’re good enough to play. That’s my opinion as a coach. But those were not the questions I was asked.

What I was asked about was my philosophy of drafting, a philosophy that was developed over the years, which was to minimize distractions for my teams. 

I do not believe Michael’s sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization. 

I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction. 

Unfortunately we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction.

I wish Michael Sam nothing but the best in his quest to become a star in the NFL and I am confident he will get the opportunity to show what he can do on the field.

‘Duck Dynasty’ stars to appear at Iowa State Fair show

The Iowa State Fair’s famed butter cow will share the limelight this year with some others used to more than their fair-share of attention.

The Des Moines Register reports that the “stars” of the controversial A&E television show “Duck Dynasty” will join the fair’s grandstand lineup.

Willie, Korie and Si Robertson will speak about their family, TV series, merchandising empire and more on Aug. 10 at the fair.

Willie Robertson is the CEO of Duck Commander, Korie Robertson is his wife and Si is his uncle.

The lineup doesn’t include Duck Commander founder Phil Robertson, who was the center of controversy late last year following a series of comments that triggered protests from gays, women and blacks and prompted a suspension from the show by A&E.

People will be expected to $32 for a grandstand ticket to see the “Duck Dynasty” stars at the fair.

‘Bachelor’ star apologizes for anti-gay comments

The star of ABC’s “The Bachelor” made anti-gay comments that drew a swift rebuke from the network and an apology from the bachelor himself over the weekend.

Juan Pablo Galavis told The TV Page website that he didn’t think a gay or bisexual bachelor would set a good example for kids. Galavis also told the site that gays were more “pervert, in a sense,” adding that he could be mistaken.

Over the weekend, Galavis posted an apology on his Facebook page, saying he respects gay people, has gay friends, including one “who’s like a brother,” and regrets using the word “pervert.” Galavis blamed that latter word choice on the fact that English is his second language, after Spanish.

“What I meant to say was that gay people are more affectionate and intense and for a segment of the TV audience this would be too racy to accept. The show is very racy as it is and I don’t let my 5 year old daughter watch it,” the single dad from Miami wrote online.

In apologizing, Galavis said his remarks were taken out of context and the full interview posted online by The TV Page demonstrates his respect for gay people and their families.

In a statement, ABC called his comments “careless, thoughtless and insensitive” and not representative of those of the network, the show’s producers or the studio.

“The Bachelor” returned Jan. 6 for its 18th edition.

Galavis released a follow-up statement through GLAAD, formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

“I have heard from many gay Latinos today who are hurt because of what I said and I apologize,” he said. “I know gay parents and I support them and their families. They are good parents and loving families.”

On his Facebook page, Galavis identifies himself as a sports and music consultant who was U.S.-born and raised in Venezuela.

He said he wants gay and lesbian youth “to know that it is fine to be who you are,” adding that he plans to meet with gay and lesbian families so they “know that I’m on their side” in rejecting discrimination.

Monica Trasandes, GLAAD’s director of Spanish-language and Latino media, said the group looks forward to working with Galavis in Los Angeles this week to “help educate his fans about who gay and lesbian parents are.”

“Study after study shows that young people raised by gay parents are as happy and healthy as other young people,” Trasandes said.

He is the second reality TV star to draw recent attention over anti-gay comments. A&E briefly suspended “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson after he labeled gays as sinners in a GQ magazine interview and contended that African-Americans were happy under Jim Crow laws.

Unlike Galavis, Robertson did not publicly clarify or apologize for his comments.

“Duck Dynasty” returned for its fifth season last Wednesday, and the ratings weren’t a clear indicator of any fallout from the flap: The audience of 8.5 million viewers was slightly larger than that watching the fourth-season finale, but it was smaller than the 12 million who watched the fourth-season premiere.

The “Bachelor” debut episode drew 8.6 million viewers to rank No. 22 among prime-time series for the week, according to Nielsen company figures.