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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview with Ben Pappas

Aired June 10, 2003 - 19:52   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Now reality TV. The programming format that audiences especially preferred demographics hate to love. But the click of the remote, watch real people using their charms and sex appeal to outwit each other or outdoing each other. Wit is not always apparent. We're supposed to believe just seeing people just like us enjoying a moment of fame. Just like that us, that is, if we have skeletons in the closet. Maybe some of us do. CNN's Jason Carroll has more.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's billed as the ideal single guy that young ladies compete to catch on NBC's reality dating show, "For Love or Money." Rob Campos, is an attorney and former marine with matinee idol looks. But looks aren't everything. The reality is, Campos' past caught up with him. Four years ago, he was expelled from the Marine Corps lawyer training program after allegedly groping a female officer at this naval station.

Campos wasn't talking but he apologized to NBC brass for not disclosing the incident saying, I had believed that it was a "private matter that had been resolved. And did not believe that the incident was relevant to my potential participation in the show. In connection with the incident, I have acknowledged that I have behaved inappropriately."

DANIEL GREEN, WWW.THESMOKINGGUN.COM: He presented as a hunky, handsome, lawyer, Marine, and it turns out he's not exactly that, yes, I think that's a story.

CARROLL: Daniel Green is editor of thesmokinggun.com. He says networks aren't screening reality players like they should.

GREEN: I think they'd need to do a more thorough review. Almost everything we have ever found on people who are on reality TV shows has been part of the public record.

CARROLL: NBC did a background check but says it was not found in the public record searches conducted by the investigator hired by the show.

Fox had some explaining to do when records show "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire" groom, Rick Rockwell, had an ex-girlfriend who had a restraining order against him for allegedly threatening her. And then "American Idol" contestant, Corey Clark, kicked off the show after producers learned he's accused of assaulting his sister, a claim he denies.

So are all these scandals bad for reality TV shows?

JAMES PONIEWOZIK, "TIME MAGAZINE": In general, the scandals one more thing people get a kick out of. I think we have yet to see a reality show that's really been damaged by scandal like this.

CARROLL: The reality is, America just keeps watching.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: For more on the reality TV trend and the backgrounds of the stars, joined by senior writer of "US Weekly Magazine," senior writer, Ben Pappas.

Ben, good to see you.

Let's talk about the latest controversy, is much to do about nothing?

BEN PAPPAS, SENIOR WRITER "US WEEKLY": No. It's something to do about something. This guy, Rob, on NBC's "For Love or Money," was involved an incident while in the Marine Corps.

COOPER: And NBC had no idea?

PAPPAS: I mean, they did a background check but apparently...

They did but it was a military matter, didn't come up in the routine background check. But he allegedly groped a fellow officer at the time and was...

COOPER: Certainly would not have been picked -- most likely not picked for this show if that was known.

PAPPAS: Yes. He would not have been picked. (AUDIO GAP) would not go on the show.

COOPER: In the break, you were saying you know, the producers should higher the people that run thesmokinggun website to do their background security checks for them, because there have been a lot of these kind of cases.

PAPPAS: It's true. Thesmokinggun made a career out of exposing the reality TV stars and one had to wonder why they're not catching up on these -- the people that they catch.

COOPER: Do you think it's just the kind of people who are attracted to being on the shows?

PAPPAS: Absolutely. If we think back to the high school days, that's the type of person going out for reality show. The extrovert, that loves attention. That's might...

COOPER: We are talking about reality show host. I just want to point out.

PAPPAS: No, no, no. Those are just straight by the book kinds of people. But for the people that like to be on the shows, love the attention.

COOPER: Frenchie on "American Idol," who it turned out had done some...

PAPPAS: She had posed to help pay her bills on a pornographic website. She was booted from the show. But, as bounced back with a career on Broadway.

COOPER: Right. It certainly hasn't hurt her. Then there was also Sarah Kozer. What was here deal?

(CROSSTALK)

PAPPAS: She was a star from "Joe Millionaire," the Fox show. And yes she was in bondage flicks.

COOPER: Non nude bondage flicks I believe.

PAPPAS: It's suspicious to me, Anderson, that those images of her non nude bondage flicks surfaced just that week when she became a very important character on that show.

COOPER: And they don't really hurt the show, more people want to watch it.

PAPPAS: You know, the highest rated show for the first round of "Temptation Island" was not the finally, but actually the time when people booted off the show. Some controversial characters there.

COOPER: All right, Ben Pappas, thanks for joining us.

PAPPAS: Thanks, Anderson.

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